28 December, 2008

Would you believe....?

As Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, would have said to "The Chief", "Missed it by that much!!"

I thought I could make 12000 km for the year but the planetary alignments and star signs conspired to defeat me (well that and a couple of unscheduled trips away on behalf of my employer which seriously dented my plans but Hey!! they pay me so what can I say?) and I will fall short- unless I ride about 380 km tomorrow and Tuesday. And you know what? I don't like my chances...

I renewed my racing license yesterday for 2009. First event is a time trial on 1 March- so if I start my 8 week program straight away.......well first thing in the New Year, she'll be sweet.

Today was yet another Christmas/cycling party/breakfast and I have to say that I really value the friendships we have made through our group. What started out as a few friends getting together for a coffee ride on Saturdays has grown to a group of almost 70- some social, some racers, some a bit of both but all joined by a common thread- The Bike!!

Anyway, I've got a couple of mornings of '08 left and who knows.... I might just stay on my bike for a couple of extra hours on Monday and Tuesday morning and see what happens.

Take care- ride safe

25 December, 2008

Merry Christmas to all.

Dee and I have just come back from a ride with friends to visit one of our group who recently had an unfortunate encounter with a dog while on his bike. Maurie came down hard with several other riders when a dog wandered onto the road and into the path of the group.

Sadly, Maurie has multiple fractures around the hip socket and is confined to bed for several more weeks. So about a dozen of us headed out at 5:30 this morning to pay him a visit and sing him some carols.

He was, as they say in Australia, gobsmacked. With a few gifts and some party crackers (bon-bons, whatever) he was like a six year old kid who has been waiting for Santa. It's nice to think that in these times of consumerism, a visit to a friend is worth so much more.

Ride safe

21 December, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Well if you consider large numbers of people in shorts and thongs cruising through the shopping malls on a Sunday afternoon to be typical Christmas scenery, then we're amongst it. Actually for 5 days before Chrissy, things were quite controlled- no pushing and shoving, no long queues at checkouts, and funnily enough, very little canned Christmas music.

This is in stark contrast to Thursday and Friday when there was much argy-bargy over parking spaces at the local malls (according to the local paper).

Dee and I went for a nice ride this morning along the beachfront and then back to one of the cafes in town for some brekkie and a cup of coffee. It was beautiful except for the last three minutes when it started to rain....harder and harder. I think we managed to avoid the worst of it though as the water wasn't running out of my shoes as it often does in these tropical showers.

We had our coffee and sat out the rain with friends who had made "the dam run" this morning but hadn't been so lucky avoiding the wet stuff on the way back in. 

It's hard to think of it as Christmas when the only thing white is the sand on the beach and the temps are 34C. Don't get me wrong- I'm not pining for -20 and 1/2 metre of snow. I much prefer to be able to roll out of bed at 4:30 and not have to put on enough clothes to look like the Michelin man (Bibendum is his name if you must know. Bib for short) so I can go outside. I just can't imagine going back to that and giving up year-round cycling.

To all- have a very happy and safe holiday season and enjoy all that goes with it.


20 December, 2008

The Festive Season is Upon Us

I like Christmas and the holiday season. It's that time of the year to gather family and friends around and celebrate the best the season has to offer. And the time when those people in your office who just magically appeared several months ago and have not made any conversation aside from the occasional grunt, speak to you...like their contracts are up for renewal and they better make good with everyone in the office- just in case it might influence the renewal of said contract.

Yesterday was our corporate Christmas party. Starts at 3:30, ends at 6:30- pizza, roast chicken, lots of beer, rum, bourbon........and a jukebox. The organisers hired a jukebox to provide background music I guess- nobody ever dances at one of these parties. 

But I reckon I must be getting old. I recognized most of the songs but they were all so loud you couldn't even carry on a conversation in the room. I looked outside and there were probably 15 or 20 people gathered around- either smokers or other like-minded souls who had suffered enough of the ear-numbing "entertainment". 

What ever happened to conversation? Now you have to yell at the top of your lungs just to ask the person standing next to you, "So what are you and the family doing for Christmas this year?"

45 minutes was enough. I don't care who was there to network with. My personal sanity is worth considerably more. So I came home and Dee and I had home-made pizza, a few wines and retired in front of the telly. Season's Greetings!!

And out of all the beer, wine, rum and bourbon available yesterday, I made a big switch from my usual white wine and had................................... a Coke. Thinking ahead to this morning's ride made it easy to forego the festivities and go home. And I'm much happier for it.

Cheers- ride safe

14 December, 2008

Lights, camera, lightning!!

Flash!! Rumble, rumble, flash,flash, FLASH/BANG!!!!

We have just had a cracker of a storm blow through- lasted about 40 minutes with the prelude and all and as it passes away to the east, the trailing light show is an awesome spectacle. I have been watching for about 5-10 minutes since we had the last of it and now it is just a continuous display off to the east. Probably not more than 2 or 3 seconds between flashes.

Thankfully the storm brought a much needed freshening of the air and the temperature has dropped about 10 or 12 C. It was 35.5C (at least that's what the thermometer in the car said while we were parked in the shade) earlier this afternoon when Dee and I were running a few errands. Any excuse to get out of the house and into some aircon!!

We went camping/mountain bike riding yesterday with some of our friends in our cycling group. Got up at 4:30, finished packing the car and headed off to Stone River. Beautiful spot at the bottom of the range- surrounded by tropical rainforest with a lovely creek running at the back of the property- idyllic.

We arrived around 7:30 and met up with the rest of the group who had driven up Friday afternoon. The challenge ahead of us was to ride up Mt Fox.....9 km of hill with very little opportunity for rest and recovery on the way up. I've done it the last two years and keep asking myself why I need to go back and subject myself to it all over again.

Off we went on this year's adventure but it was not to be a successful conclusion for me this year. When I woke up yesterday, I had a sore throat- very unusual for this time of year as we come into summer. I figured it was viral as I also had an accompanying sore on the inside of my nose- always a warning sign to me of a viral infection.

Anyway we headed off and all was quite good until we reached about the 5km point. I was cooked!! I couldn't cool off and had stopped sweating- definitely not a good sign. So I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it and returned to the campsite. I do recall my doctor advising me not to cycle hard when I have a viral infection- there have been instances of elite athletes (not that I fall into that category- as a matter of fact I can't even see elite from where I am) who have died from their viral infections by continuing to train hard while ill and their bodies have succumbed to the infection. "Sorry but I do this because I enjoy it, not because I have to. And I'd like to be able to do it again tomorrow- or whenever I'm healthy enough to resume."

I tried to rehydrate myself while waiting for the rest of the group to return. When we were all back, we went for a bit of a soak in the stillwater area of the creek. There is a certain amount of complacency about this swimming hole- fresh water from rainforest streams, beautiful surrounds- what could go wrong?

Fortunately in this instance, nothing. Dee had expressed concerns about crocs (estuarine/saltwater lizards- big ones with bad attitudes) and I have to confess I was a bit hesitant as well but I guess there's safety in numbers. "There's no crocs here. Too far inland, yada, yada,blah, blah..."

We didn't see any (this time) but just a few km's down the road as we were heading home this morning, on the same river system, is a warning sign saying, "Caution- estuarine crocodiles inhabit this area."

But it was all good. The food which was pretty much all cooked in camp ovens in the fire pit was outstanding, the company and conversation was great and the wine flowed freely. If there was a downside, it was the temperature. We camped out- in a tent as you do, and when you camp you expect to be cool at night. Our mates had told us that Friday night they actually had to get in their sleeping bags as opposed to just using them as extra cushioning on the camp mats.

Not last night- no way, no how!! It didn't get below 28 or 29C overnight so sleep was hard to come by. Daybreak was a flurry of activity as everyone broke camp, packed up and headed home in the air conditioned comfort of their vehicles.

The temperature now is 25C- you just gotta love natural air conditioning.

Cheers, ride safe

11 December, 2008

Just had a call from our son who has flown down to Brisbane for a training course tomorrow- "Just had to let you know that the sky is green! Looks pretty surreal."

He's in for a pretty good storm over the next little bit. When the clouds turn green, that means thunder, lightning and hail- big hail- cricket ball sized hail with strong winds that can throw those cricket balls of ice at angles through windows and into carports to put fist-sized dents in car panels.

I'd hate to be trying to cycle home from work in those conditions.

I've asked him to get some pictures.......

32 km today..........12000 is still a long way off.

Ride safe

07 December, 2008

Can he do it?

My annual kilometre total is just a shade over 11,000 at the moment- 11,074 if my memory serves me correct. I had hoped (and am still hoping) to hit 12,000 by the end of the year. That would be- let's see now, 926 km to go- today is the 7th, leaving 24 days for an average of 38.583333333333333333 per day to achieve my goal.

I'm just about to head out the door to Brisbane for 3 days so we're now down to 21 days= 44.095238 km/day. I have my doubts if I'll ride Christmas Day- and we're going camping next weekend so let's call it 18 days= 51.4444444444444444 km/day.

I'll keep you posted.


28 November, 2008

I'm almost "week" from not blogging

Excuse me! I'm being yelled at....by a fox terrier who is demanding his after-dinner treats. "I've had my meal," he says, "and since I can't have a glass of wine, I'll have some of those dried liver treats- and some dog biscuits too. Oh and don't forget my liver cookies too!!"

"Oh yeah- the big dog wants some too- he's just too polite to make demands."

Fortunately, Dee has come to the rescue and delivered the goods while I blog. If Rene Descartes had been alive today, it would have been "I blog, therefore I am" instead of "I think, therefore I am." Well actually being a Frenchman in the 17th century, it was "Je pense donc je suis,".

I have been chided for not blogging enough while I've been on leave- which I suppose is true enough but I just haven't had much to say......until today.

This morning started with a bang- literally. At 3:30 this morning, the first flash of lightning and rumble of thunder gave me an early start to the morning. It had been raining off and on for a bit and given that our yard has a propensity to flood in heavy rain, I took a look off the deck and satisfied myself that everything was OK- not that I could do anything about it anyway if it wasn't. "Hey- would you mind turning off the rain for a bit? Dee just put some new plants in the garden yesterday and we don't want them to wash away!"

So I went back to bed knowing that my early morning ride was in jeopardy. "Boy Howdy!!" About 10 minutes later, the skies opened with a vengeance and the ensuing thunderstorm that went through dumped about 130 mm of rain (that would be about 5+ inches) in just over an hour. So the yard went from having a small puddle in the far back corner to this:

That room on the left with the louvred windows had about 15cm of water through it- and a lot of the wood chip mulch that we had put on the gardens had floated free to end up on the grassy area on the other side of the house:

And as of 5:30 this afternoon, the backyard looks like this (much like it did at 3:30 this morning only in sunlight):

And the mulch has all been raked, shoveled, forked, pushed, prodded, swept and thrown back into place in the gardens or into the wheelbarrow for distribution tomorrow.

So on a positive note, I won't need to drag the water hose and sprinkler around on the weekend- Oh and our dove orchids bloomed today as well:
The forecast is for more rain and thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow- I'm hoping they hold off for our coffee ride in the morning. I need a few extra km's to make 300 for the week although I had been hoping for 400. Might make it a bit of a challenge to hit 12000 for the year.

Back to work on Monday- the last fortnight has been very restful (in a cycling, not-being-at-work kind of way). And Dee has just found some info on a ride in New Zealand in January- the Taranaki Cycle Challenge. You know, I already have some leave booked off in January.....

Cheers- ride safe

22 November, 2008

It was only a suggestion....

I came across this article in one of the Brisbane online papers yesterday about obesity and how lowering the speed limit in some urban streets to 30 km/hr might encourage more people to get out and walk or cycle if they felt safer (read- less threatened by motor vehicles) and thus lose weight.

Well it seems nothing incites the raw-nerved, red-necked responses like an issue relating to cycling. Some took issue with the researcher who proposed the idea- " How on earth do you find this drivel? Some of these academics should be forced to get a job in the real world for a change, instead of living (at public expense) in LaLa Land!!

Which might solve their obesity problems, too ..."

Posted by: deebee of Brisbane 1:24am November 21, 2008
Comment 8 of 144

Others see it as a revenue raising issue being considered by the state government-

" 30km/hr!!! Are you kidding? Surely you are!?!? The state coffers will be brimming with the cash from speeding fines. I seriously doubt this idea will work. People will still drive everywhere they go due to the comfort and quicker journey they get in a car. Posted by: Cynclic of Rockhampton 11:39pm November 20, 2008 "

And then there were the "I hate cyclists" type entries- "You wont last long on the road like that buddy. Maybe if you paid rego and insurance for your bycyle and didnt ride 10kmph holding up 2km of traffic in your rainbow coloured spandex suit , pretending you are in the tour de france,then you may be shown respect.but until then,try not to be a pest !!"

I mean people lost the plot on this really quickly- from both sides of the fence. But the vehemence with which some of these comments are written is frightening. As a cyclist I see examples of poor habits from both motorists and cyclists- everyday. Running red lights, failing to signal turns, failing to give way to traffic with the right of way. Unfortunately for those of us on the bike, it doesn't matter how right you are in law, you'll never win an argument with 850+ kilograms of steel, plastic and rubber being piloted by someone who, when they see a lycra-clad cyclist, can visualise the bullseye in the middle of their back. Most of these people wouldn't endanger their son or daughter, mother, father, brother or sister on the road- so why would they willingly do it to me?

As BGW says, "just sayin!!'"

Cheers- ride safe (please)

ps- I don't know what's going on with the fonts on this post- must have something to do with the quotes I copied and pasted.

21 November, 2008

Feels like summer to me

Dee and I got back from Canberra yesterday and I have to say it feels good to be home. I mean everyone always says, "It's good to be home" but it really feels good to be back in the tropics. Don't get me wrong- Canberra is a great city (much like Ottawa) and has some really good cycling in the capital region- both road and MTB; and the drivers are very good as well, making cycling on the city's roads a pleasure (if somewhat daunting at first). But it was cold- well cool I guess would be a better description, but when you get used to our current temps of +25C in the morning, 8C seems pretty cold and not conducive to getting an early start. And then the high for the day tops out at 22 or 23 making for a completely different experience.

And the humidity is considerably lower than here in North Queensland. Low enough to make your lips crack and nose bleed when you had to blow the pollen out of your nostrils. And yet one of the ladies attending the same conference as Dee was complaining about the heat and humidity (as in too hot and too humid- "HELLO!!") .

Getting off the plane and emerging from the airport yesterday was like stepping into a cloud of steam from a sauna- warm and moist- beautiful!!

I went for a ride this morning and when I left the house at 5:ooam, it was already 26 and the humidity was 90%. There were only 8 of us and we did a nice little circuit plus coffee for a 52km loop to start the day. No sprint, just an easy roll at about 32- 34 km/hr. It felt really good cutting through that humid air but when we came to a stop, the weather made itself very apparent. All of a sudden, that lovely cooling effect of air rushing across your arms and face comes to a complete stop and you continue to sweat buckets, but it doesn't go anywhere- it's too humid for anything to evaporate. Aah- life in the tropics!!

Ride safe

15 November, 2008

A Celebration (of sorts)

Well another week has rolled past and I seem to have managed to get about 4 weeks behind in 5 days- not a bad effort if that's your goal. In my case however, I'm going on two weeks leave and somehow I don't think that stack of work is going to magically disappear as if the IT/System elves will come out of the woodwork.

I had to travel this week to deliver training and so lost three days productive work and even worse- three days of riding. The plus side was coming home on Friday night for a bit of a celebration. Dee and I were married 27 years ago and every day just seems to be better than the day before.

Last night was somewhat soured though as Dee was struck down by a serious bout of food poisoning. Her school at the uni had a bit of a conference this week which was catered. About 90% of students and staff were violently ill on Friday and Dee thought she had escaped the ravages of what appears to have been a bacterial episode.

We had a lovely curry in the evening and a couple glasses of bubbly (as you do on anniversaries) and retired - looking forward to our regular Saturday ride. That was thrown asunder around midnight when the bugs got the better of Dee and she unfortunately spent most of the night suffering from severe nausea and vomiting.

She is resting this evening although I wouldn't say fully recovered. And it has put a bit of a dent in our plans for this week. We are off to Canberra bright and early tomorrow morning for a conference (don't tell anyone but Dee is nominated for a national award in the Spatial Sciences Institute) and the intention was to take the bikes and ride a few of the circuits around the national capital. It looks like I'll be riding alone while Dee takes it easy to ensure she's fit for next week when we're both back home with another week to ride to our hearts' content.

If she does feel up to it, we'll hire a bike and do one of the easier circuits.

Ride safe

09 November, 2008

It just might not get any better

If you're a cycling enthusiast, or just a fan of the sport, this weekend was probably as good as it gets in our neck of the woods.

The local cycling club held its annual track carnival starting Friday night and winding up Sunday night. Now the Townsville Cup on Wheels is a pretty good event on its own- but this year had an extra bit of zip in the program.

Nick Gates, who has been riding with Silence Lotto, decided he was going to start a foundation to assist young talented riders from our region. It can cost a lot of money to get the riders off to take part in races across the state and country- so as a means of helping the parents, Nick has kicked off his program here in Townsville and he got things going with the help of some of his SL team mates and other cyclists/friends from his years on the circuit.

On Friday night at the track, Nick and some of his mates came along to offer support, sign autographs and even act as track side handlers for some of the racers. Some of his mates included Matt Lloyd, Matt White, Henk Vogels and Robbie McEwen. That's Nick and his dad looking to the right and Robbie McEwen watching the track action. Also on hand at the track to take part in the festivities and a few of the races was Athens Olympic gold medallist, Sara Carrigan.

Photos courtesy of Dee

On Saturday, Nick organised a series of criterium races along our beachfront road, The Strand. There was a kids' race, then a sponsors' crit- which I have to confess I found embarrasing due to the dearth of sponsors- and then the main event where elite riders from here in Noth Queensland and other parts of the state got the opportunity to ride with and against some of the big boys of professional cycling.

The race was originally scheduled to be 1 hour plus three laps of a 1.6 km hot-dog circuit; however, with roadside temperatures reaching 40C and humidity probably around 80%, the race was cut back by 15 minutes. Even at that, there was a fairly high attrition rate and from our vantage point, I heard several riders exclaim, "I can't f*^#ing breathe!!".

All I can say is, "Welcome to cycling in the tropics folks!!"

The race had a somewhat predictable fairytale ending as it was Nick's last race before retiring and I guess it was fair that after so many years having ridden as domestique to other riders, it was their turn to do some work for Nick and ensure he was first across the line with his hands in the air.

Our local guys who took part did themselves proud mixing it with the pros and I don't think we lost anyone to the conditions on the day.

Afterward, the pros stayed around to be interviewed by the various media in attendance and then sign autographs and pose for photos. I thought I'd see what we could do so headed off to the scrum around the finish line/podium area. I was pleasantly surprised by the photos we were able to take as you'll see following:

That's Nick and I comparing jerseys after Saturday's road race- he in his Nick Gates' Foundation kit and me resplendent in my Fat Cyclist jersey. It's amazing how many comments my FC jersey got- good on ya Fatty and Twin Six**!!

I had to try for a shot with Robbie McEwen- he is one of the great sprinters and not surprisingly, many others in the crowd were thinking much the same thing. That's Robbie, just above the white ballcap talking to the media and Henk Vogels in the Toyota United jersey. Surely we could do better than this. And I'm not quite certain but that could be Morticia from "The Addams Family" just off to my right.....

Well, yes, we did.

But in between those shots, Dee and I managed to get our picture taken with another bloke who had shown up for the day..........that is indeed Cadel Evans. Now before you say, "Jeez BoaB, you must be pretty short!!", let me say that "Yes I am, but Cadel and Dee are standing up on the kerb (curb in North America) and I am on the road."

** From above- even Cadel's wife liked the Fat Cyclist jersey and said she intended to order one for her Dad

I was struck by how quiet and softly spoken Cadel is. Turns out he couldn't race as he has had some leg injury problems recently but was still willing to come along and give Nick some assistance. He only arrived in Townsville from Melbourne just before the start of the race. Dee was thrilled when he took note of her bike and started asking questions about the geometry of it as he has rarely seen a genuine women's specific bike. Yes he said manufacturers said they produced WSB's but more often than not, they were just rebadged small size bikes. "Those are 650 wheels aren't they?"

"Umm, no they're 700's."

"Gee they've just shrunk everything in proportion, they look smaller." I think he was impressed.

Then last night was the gala dinner where the bubbles flowed and the stories from the various tour campaigns were told. And then came the auction and I dare say that some people walked away from the dinner with some exceptional bargains. The best of all being one of Cadel's Ridleys that he actually rode in this year's Tour de France. The bike would probably be about $10,000 straight off the floor of a shop, but throw in the titanium bearings and its history and it was signed for the purchaser by Cadel at the time of the auction- I think the $15,500 price was an absolute steal.

A Robbie McEwen TdF green sprinter's jersey and a TdF leader's yellow jersey were also amongst the auctioned items. Throughout the night, all of the riders were very approachable and talkative with any and all who wanted a chat.

It was, I suspect, the closest I will ever get to that many world class cyclists in my life and a weekend not to be soon forgotten.

The list: Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke, Matt Lloyd, Scott Davis, Jurgen Roelandts, Henk Vogels, Jason Phillips, Trent Wilson, Johnathon Cantwell, Wim VanSevenant, Matt White, Matt Wilson and Sara Carrigan.

Ride safe- cheers

04 November, 2008

The number of my beast

Okay, it's not '666' but it seems like it may be my equivalent........... 54.77 has struck again, just when I thought I had retired it to oblivion. For 4 consecutive weeks, I had maxxed out at 54.77 km/hr and was thinking it was a Sigma conspiracy when I then had a breakthrough and hit 56.23.

Well' as Jack Nicholson said in "The Shining", 'He's baaaaaaaaaacccckkk!!"; 54.77 has reared its ugly, digital head again- not once, but twice more in the last week.

I would love to hear from anyone else out there in "Spoke World", "Cycle World", "Pedal World", "Any World" who has a Sigma speedo and has been on the receiving end of (a) digital readout(s) that seems, shall we say, somewhat incredulous.

The big day for cycling is drawing near in Townsville. On Friday night, the local track circuit championships kick off at the local velodrome and then on Saturday we have Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen and other pros taking part in a crit and then Saturday night is a "black tie" fund raising dinner with the pros so it should be a cracker of a weekend.

A few of the locals had a lucky escape this morning when a car ran a red light across the path of some of our "A" Graders and caused a few of the riders to stack it. Some claret was spilled and there was some bark peeled off some shins and arms but fortunately no serious injuries. Someone managed to grab the rego number of the car and report it to the police so it will be interesting to watch as events unfold.

And congrats to Bluenoser on completing his first cyclocross on the weekend- "Good on ya Mate!!"

Ride safe

01 November, 2008

Trick or Treat

Hallowe'en has come and gone for another year. Our cycling group had a bit of a ghoulish get together last night for a bit of fun. Hallowe'en has never been as popular here in Oz as it is in North America but it seems to be gaining in popularity.

When we first moved here in 1995, it was a non-event but now there are parties taking place and lots of kids on the streets (of certain suburbs) trick-or-treating. Our hosts, Mark and Linda, went all out decorating there house and yard for the event. They used to live in British Columbia and as most Canadians do, celebrated Hallowe'en in a big way.

There were carved jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, skeletons, giant spiders, floating Frankensteins and some great food for all to enjoy (and a few bottles of wine). It was a great way to wind down at the end of a hectic week.

Dee and I went as pirates and for last minute costumes, we did alright. As pirates are wont to do, I had my bottle (flask) of rum to prepare me for any skirmishes that may occur- "Avast me "Hearties! Pull hard on that hawser or it'll be off with head!!" No doubloons or pieces of eight to be found and by the time we shipped out, it was nearing the witching hour.

I reckon I got to sleep just past midnight and when I woke at ten past four, I thought I would just snooze until the alarm went at four thirty. Never heard a thing did I? I woke up at a few minutes to five and headed out the door for our regular Saturday ride. Dee did the sensible thing and stayed horizontal with the dogs as company.

Tomorrow is the start of training for our annual Australia Day ride. A number of us ride to Charters Towers on a one-way trip (approx 130 km), leaving Townsville at 4:30am and usually arriving in Charters Towers around 10:00- with a couple of rehydration stops along the way. Upon arrival it's into the local swimming pool for a recovery dip and then off to watch some Gold Field Ashes cricket and have some chicken and champers.

Ride safe


26 October, 2008

Put Spring in Your Step

How quickly we acclimatise. Just a few weeks back I was lamenting the cold mornings and how I couldn't wait for the warmer weather.

It arrived on cue just about the first of September and we've been pretty fortunate since then. Beautiful, clear days with temps around 29 or 30C and nights down to 21 or 22 and a lovely afternoon breeze to keep things from overheating.

Yesterday was a bit of a wake-up. The overnight temp went down to 18 and without any blanket on the bed, it felt like about 10 but we persevered =8^) and after a few minutes on the bike, all felt right.

Not much in the way of km's this week. I spent the week in Rockhampton on "Team Building" meetings and delivering training- I travel by a smallish plane and don't have the opportunity to take my bike so I walk when I can (before work, lunchtime, after work) and am generally fidgety and miserable while I'm away. My fellow employees think I'm daft for getting up at 4:30 every morning and going for a ride when I'm home and it's a routine I just can't drop at a moment's notice.

So even without the alarm set, my eyes snap open around twenty past four every morning and I can't get back to sleep so I get up, do a few exercises, eat some brekkie and watch a bit of TV news on one of the breakfast shows. It quickly reminds me why I don't watch that sort of thing when I'm home- well for one thing I'm riding at that time of the morning and so am not generally inclined to watch TV while pedalling along at 35km/hr and secondly, there is just so much cr*p about celebrities being touted as news.

So it's back home for the next little while and then Dee and I are off to Canberra for a few days in November. Dee has a national conference to attend and I'll be taking my bike and looking to hook up with a few local rides while there and then after the conference, we'll head off on some of the National Capitol's great bike routes.

A couple of our cycling friends are currently in Western Australia for a holiday break and they're following (more or less) a route Dee and I did about this time last year. They've hired a campervan and MTB's for the trip and I am waiting in anticipation to hear their reports. We had an absolutely spectacular trip last year and were just saying last night that it would be good to go back and spend a week or so in the southern part of the southwest around Denmark.

So many places to go, so many trails and roads to ride.

Cheers, Ride safe

19 October, 2008

The Hoodoo has Left the Building

Well Sigma has been vindicated. After 4 (that's four- one more than three and one less than five) successive weeks where my Max speed was 54.77 km/hr, the speedo has just proved that I was having an extremely consistent period of cycling.

Yesterday's coffee ride had its little sprint down to the Casino (as it does every Saturday) and I thought I was going to see 54.77 again. About a dozen of us headed onto the straight with me tucked back about 4th wheel. 75 metres in was about time to give it all and so I did.

As I went past Mark (and I should qualify that by saying that Mark was on his "fixie"- otherwise I'd see nothing but the Assos tag on the butt of his knicks), I glanced down to see 53.5 on the speedo. I thought that was a pretty good sign as I was still cranking it pretty good but didn't dare look again until we had made the turn and started back to the cafe.

Imagine my surprise when I thumbed through the readings to get to "Max Speed" and there, "lo and behold" was 54.77 km/hr. I was, as they say here in the Land of Oz, "absolutely gobsmacked!!!". But I hadn't rolled 10 more metres when the numbers just sort of rolled like a slot machine (if LCD numbers can do such a thing) and there was a new Max Speed of 56.23 km/hr.

So Sigma, you have been spared a spray in my blog- not that you would have anything to worry about as something impacting great numbers of consumers. I guess for four weeks, my PB was truly my PB.

And today, Sunday, was a race day- but I didn't race. Officially the season is over, but just to keep interest up, the local cycling club holds a few "off-season" crits. Well, that and the fact that in a few weeks time, we're going to have some of Australia's top pro circuit riders here in town for a criterium where some of the local elite riders will get to test their legs against the "real deal".

Add to that, the fact that we had a bit of a "social" last night entertaining some cycling (and non-cycling) friends and a young lady newly arrived in Townsville from Halifax with many curries, barbecued prawns and several "refreshments"; I suspect that the racing legs would not have been able to put forth their best effort.

As it was, I joined some of our regular group for a ride to"the Dam"- a ride which Dee often mentions- and then onward for coffee. We had a rider from Cairns join us for yesterday's and today's rides. Trevor is 70 years young and is currently here in Townsville undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.

He rides a 20 year old "custom made" steel-framed beauty and had no problem keeping up with the group- even when we were getting up around 40 km/hr. He's been here for 4 weeks now and has three to go and if his determination to beat the "C" is anywhere near his determination to ride, that cancer hasn't a chance.

Oh and I'll throw in one more little serendipitous item for consideration- his radiation therapy nurse is from Halifax, Nova Scotia and just happened to have been our guest for the curry night......."Six Degrees of Separation???"

Cheers- ride safe

17 October, 2008

My PB- four times over

Okay- this is getting a bit weird. A few weeks back, I mentioned how I had hit my fastest flat ground speed of 54.77 km/hr.

This week, yet again, I hit.................................that's a drum roll for big effect.........54.77 km/hr. Now that seems a bit strange to hit exactly the same speed- right down to the 100th of a km , but that's what the good ole digital speedo said. But let's make it a bit more bizarre. That's not the second, but actually the fourth instance where the max has been 54.77.

Now I could accept a hundredth or two either side but to hit the same thing four times, I just am having a bit of difficulty accepting it. Anyway, tomorrow's coffee ride will have a bit of a sprint so it will be interesting to see what comes up on the Max Speed readout in the morning.

Next week will be a bit of a bummer. I'm traveling for the week and so no bike rides until next Saturday (well I might be able to squeeze one in on Monday morning before I have to head off to the airport). But even worse than that is just being away from home.

I spent a bit over 8 years working in the offshore oil and gas industry and did my fair share of traveling- it was part of the job. But now it just doesn't hold the attraction that it seems to for the younger members of our team.

And it seems that Cycling has infected me- I have no desire (or even ability) to stay out 'til the midnight hour "networking" with my fellow team members. 8:30 rolls around and I've pretty much had it but when the rest of them still have their heads on their pillows at 4:30am, I'm up and ready to go.

I guess it's a cyclist thing.

Ride safe


12 October, 2008

And the Stable grows by one

Dee got her new bike yesterday- an '09 Myka Comp- "beautiful!!". Earlier this year, she decided to go with a "dually" and bought an '08 Myka Comp. Nice bike- well kitted out but it just wasn't right for her. The top tube was just a bit too high and so after one ride, it was left to one side under the house and not ridden again.

On one of our frequent trips to the LBS, Mike, the owner, asked Dee how she was liking the Myka. When she responded that she wasn't, Mike insisted we bring it back to the store and he would get Dee an '09 when they arrived on our shores. True to his word, the bike arrived and was built and ready for the test ride on Saturday.

The reconfigured geometry meant the top tube was now about 2.5cm (1" for those non-metricated types) lower and allowed Dee to have a more comfortable stand-over. I think she liked it- she rode it home from the shop and I'm sure was grinning all the way.

Oh yes- there was the financial reconciliation as well. When I asked Mike the amount owing, he got out the paperwork and the calulator and looked on the computer and came up with $50.00!!!

Fifty bucks?? "I just calculated the freight and the labour to put it together- that's all I want. We want our customers to be happy on their bikes."

And as a sign from above, I was waffling on whether to go for a ride this morning. It would make seven days straight and I know I should have a day off but I haven't done the ride to Ross River Dam for some time now and thought this morning would be good. Meet at the bike shop for a 05:30 departure and all would be good.

Got to the LBS at about 5:25 and just as I pulled up under the front awning, it started to rain- just a light drizzle at first and the as the others arrived, the intensity increased. We prolonged the departure- discussed options and then decided it was time to make a break for it on a shortened circuit and then back for coffee.

We probably hadn't gone 50 metres when the skies opened and down it came. I lie about 3 km from the shop and decided that I would be peeling off there. The thing that confirmed it for me was the first set of traffic lights we came to- it took me an extra 20 metres or so to stop- the brakes were that wet that they just wouldn't grip. Good thing there were only a few of us with lots of room to spread out and find a clear path to come to a stop.

Cheers- ride safe


29 September, 2008

So that's how it works!!!!

OK- first day back at work for another week and things are looking a bit puzzling (to me anyway).

"We've got some U(ser) A(cceptance)T(esting) we want you to do on this application for some fixes that are going in the system."

"Ummmm.....OK. What is it supposed to do? Is there a test script?"

"Don't worry about that. You'll figure it out."

Well now I sort of feel like a real tool. This is part of our business management application that I'm supposed to be supporting and it's an area I've never seen before. "No worries" I reckon- I'll just get on to the last bloke who tested it and things will be sweet. NOT!! The whole aspect of functionality that I'm supposed to be testing has been changed and looks nothing like the previous incarnation against which the "fix" was raised.

Oh well- I have another full day before testing is supposed to be completed and I guess there's always the "FAIL" option. As they say in "Little Britain:- "Computer says NO!!!!"

Oh yeah cycling- I didn't ride today, took a full day off and am awaiting the hills tomorrow morning. If all goes according to plan- I should absolutely fly up the hills like Icarus toward the sun. Just hope I have a more graceful return to earth!!

Ride to Work Day- takes place on 15 October. I'm a member of our corporate "Green Team" which is supposed to be involved in and encouraging green activities and today I had to send a request to our Green Team co-ordinator (a full time paid position) asking if anything is being scheduled.

I mean, "Get with the program Folks!!" You want to encourage greener, more environmentally friendly attitudes in the work force and we can't even jump on the bandwagon of one of the most successful national initiatives around??? The response was along the lines of, "Oh yeah. I was going to send something out today."

When I left work today, still nothing had come out and the ride is less than 3 weeks away,

It's ok- breathe deeply. Tomorrow is another day- another chance for the wrongs to be righted and the world brought back to its proper axis.

Ride safe

28 September, 2008


Today was the "Awareness Ride"- intended to draw attention to the numbers of cyclists using our roads for recreation, commuting and sport and hopefully to foster better relations with other road users (read motorists).

Last year there were nearly 1000 cyclists in the inaugural ride which was brought together after a young lady who was in training for a MTB event was struck by a car and left for dead on the side of the road. Vicki survived and last year's ride came together to draw attention to an increasing number of vehicle/bicycle incidents and to raise money to assist with Vicki's rehabilitation.

This year the ride was again aiming to raise awareness amongst other road users and funds raised would be donated to the "Amy Gillet Foundation". Unfortunately, many cyclists were "unaware" the ride was taking place today. Organisation of the ride was left a bit late and so numbers were down considerably on last year.

The other factor I query is the route the ride took. Yes, it was along a scenic stretch of the beachfront road and traffic controls were in place to ensure safe passage of the cyclists; however, not very many motorists would have been aware that this was taking place as the route avoided any major traffic areas (we're talking 8:00am on a Sunday morning so traffic is not going to be very heavy to begin with) and it would have been "business as usual" for those off to the markets or brekkie with the rellies.

I guess it's a fine line between having an organised ride and being a nuisance to other road users. Police permits have to be obtained and if the ride is going to be an inconvenience, then it's probably going to be a bit more difficult to make your case and get the permit- after all, we're not trying to have a "Critical Mass Ride".

All in all though- a good week 220+ km's for the week and hopefully a motorist or two out there who may have seen us today and spared a thought for our safety.

Cheers- ride safe

21 September, 2008

It's a big step to take

Dee and I have been looking at S.U.B.'s this week- that's Sports Utility Bicycles for those in the dark (as I was until just the other day). The Big Dummy from Surly and the Kona Ute are the two models we have looked at. Dee has been intrigued by the Big Dummy since learning of its existance and versatility through Largefellaonabike's blog .

Why? I hear you ask- well I don't actually hear you asking- somebody has to read this in order to formulate the questions. So I don't actually hear you asking why but I'm sure that anybody who does read this would say, "Why?".

Well, it's the possibility of going carless in our household. Really, how many times do we actually need to use the car?

Holidays? -maybe, but only a couple of times a year so why not rent a vehicle on those occasions. I thought I might need it to chauffeur visiting relatives around when they come to visit- but that happens just slightly more frequently than Halley's Comet ........on my side of the family that is- my siblings have decided (apparently) that there are no airplanes that fly to the Antipodes- they only go the other way making it easy for me to return to the old country on a frequent basis. Dee's sister has made her way here from Nova Scotia 4 times I think.

Going to work?- well both Dee and I have reasonably good end-of-ride facilities and good bikeways and/or roads with designated bike lanes to get there.

Social events?- taxis are relatively reasonably priced.

Weather?- well it never snows here, although the "wet season" can be a bit on the damp side when the monsoonal rains set in.

So why do we need a car? We're having a serious look at this.....by and large the car sits under the house gathering dust and costing us money for registration, insurance and regular servicing. So we're looking at an S.U.B. And these things are versatile, the Big Dummy can be loaded up with an unbelievable amount of stuff with its panniers and racks (more than the Kona) and is supposed to be very rideable across all types of roads and trails.

Last week, friends of ours told us there was a Big Dummy at one of the local bike shops- so on Saturday after our coffee ride, we headed in to have a look. It wasn't a BD but a Kona Ute; same basic design and philosophy but not as well kitted out as the BD. I spent most of today looking at Surly specs on line and I'm pretty sure we can make this work.

It's a big step and I need a bit more time to really weigh up the consequences/options/costs but I'm starting to lean toward an S.U.B.- it will go well with the new solar hot water system!!

Anyhow, ride safely


11 September, 2008

It was that close.

I went back and joined a group ride this morning. Not the testosterone laden, road rule ignoring bunch I rode with a few weeks back. But a gentler, more in-tune with natural harmony group....yeah right!! It looked like someone trying to herd cats. The group was all over the road- riding two-abreast (or three or four) and into a couple of lanes of traffic. Good thing it was early this morning and not much traffic- this sort of stuff could really invoke some nasty reactions from motorists.

I had been riding solo lately but had been advised that the old group had split up- sort of a TL vs EL. That would be testosterone vs estrogen.

Anyway I held on to the turn and a bit beyond with people doing many strange things when it came to traffic signals and such- or even when those who had been on the front decided they had had enough and made way for the next pair to move forward- it was like "The Keystone Cops". "What do I do?" "Where should I go?"

Being my first ride with this group, I didn't feel it was my place to start barking but it was a hard thing to hold my tongue.

After the turn, we started to pick up the pace on the return leg to the city. A good mate of ours, Mark (who also abandoned the TLR - that would be Testosterone Laden Ride) made a bit of a jump so being the twitchy sort of a bloke I followed (albeit a bit late).

Well I have to say that chasing down Mark gave me my fastest level ground speed of 54.77 km/hr. Not bad for an old fart- and I never even got to grab the wheel- it was all straight chase speed.

Anyway, Dee and I are off to Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays on Friday. Lots of laughs, rides and wines with some friends and a well earned bit of relaxation.

Cheers, ride safe

09 September, 2008

Been a bit slack haven't you?

Well I guess that's one way of looking at it. It has been well over a week since last I blogged but I haven't been bone-idle. I have been busy, honest; just ask Dee.

I have been getting in rides almost every morning- well except this morning because I had to take Dee to the airport, plus it was raining so that's legit. And Sunday- I didn't ride Sunday because it was Father's Day here in Oz. Went to a native plant nursery and then worked in the yard- planting, weeding, digging, edging and just general yard stuff. Very relaxing and good for the soul.

Oh and all of those mornings when I have been riding, I've been doing hills- and you know something, I feel stronger. The hills aren't necessarily getting any easier (well maybe a bit) but I am finding that my recovery time is much shorter and that I have more strength in general. Every time I start up another incline I keep reciting my mantra,"Hills will make me stronger, hills will make me stronger".

The track season has started for the year and I'm still debating whether to give it a go. I suspect I will but I'll attend a couple of starter sessions before I jump in with both feet. I did try it once before at an "Open Day" that the cycling club had a couple of years ago- I think I spent more time trying to get my feet in the cages/toe clips than I did actually pedaling around the track.

And big things happening in North Queensland on the cycling front over the next couple of months: One of the toughest MTB events around- the Croc Trophy is back for another year. Then in November, there will be a crit in Townsville with some of the big names from the pro circuit- Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Adam Hansen, Stu O'Grady, Matt White, Henk Vogels Wim Vasavenant. Needless to say there's a fair bit of excitement amongst local riders hoping to catch a ride with some of these blokes.

Anyway- off to the bike shop- Dee's rear wheel was making some strange noises yesterday and with my limited bike mechanic abilities, I couldn't find anything so I'll leave it to the pros.

Cheers- ride safe

31 August, 2008

And so the road racing season comes to an end

I'd like to be able to say I ended the season on a winning note so I will. I didn't win the race- didn't even come second or third. As a matter of fact I came perilously close to finishing "Stone Motherless Last" as one of my cycling mates says. But I won in the sense that I finished every race I started.

That was my commitment when I decided I would try racing and I held to it. There were a couple of times I thought I just wasn't going to cut it but being a bit of an ornery b*st*rd by times, I managed to stick it through. I finished a few on my own, but I found that when I'm conducting my own personal time trial while the rest of the grade has scampered away, I can come back to some of the joys of cycling. The sounds and smells that are so often missed by those hurtling down the roads at 100 km/hr with the windows rolled up. The sight of red-backed wrens along the roadside or a jabiru flying overhead- cockatoos and parrots squawking in the trees. You tend to miss those things when you're concentrating on the wheel in front of you.....

Contrary to last week's painful episode, today was a walk in the park- a 40km walk at an average of about 37 km/hr mind you- but much more enjoyable over all. And yes I got dropped but not at the turn like Sunday last but much further on. And again it was as I came off the front and just couldn't grab the rear wheel to stay in touch. There was a bit of a surge as I neared the back of the group and the poor old pegs just didn't have another 55 metres @ 45 km/hr to bridge the gap.

Anyway I had a lovely ride back in, picked up a couple of others who had been spit out the back and we kept the peloton in sight but just couldn't make up any ground.

There was an end of season barbecue/party this afternoon hosted by one of our club members and his wife. Lots of fun and laughs and making me look forward to next year already- March seems so far away!! There is always the track season......I don't have a track bike yet!!!!!

And "Thanks Dee" for coming out and supporting me and helping at the races. It'll be great when we're both racing next year, eh??

Ride safe

24 August, 2008

One more road race this season..

Today was the second last race of the road season for us and in keeping with tradition (albeit a very short tradition), I finished well back amongst the class- but I did stick to my commitment to finish every race I start.

As I sit here in my compression tights recovering from a rather painful ride, I'm being quite thankful that the wind which is now howling through the yard was pretty much non-existent this morning. The forecast had been for moderate to strong winds all day and we didn't see the first evidence of a breeze until about 10km into the race. It was a breeze that never really favoured the riders as it was pretty much a crosswind going out and coming back.

And the painful part of the ride you ask......it was about the last 6km. I had been dropped at the turn after having taken a couple of turns on the front- someone broke the unwritten rule of "no attacking on the turn." Small consolation as you watch the peloton pull away while you're struggling to get back up to speed. Anyhow I continued with another one of my "personal time trials" and as I neared the turn for our finishing little road loop, I felt a rather painful twinging in the area around my hip joints- both on the front and rear.

No matter how I shifted on the saddle or stood up to pedal, there was no relief. So I finished the race (not last I have to confess) but I had some concerns as to whether I could actually dismount and make my way to the car. I did manage to get off the bike in what was probably a less-than graceful manner to any who may have seen it; and make my way to the car. Hobbling like I just had both hips replaced, I thought that I better make an appointment with the bike shop to do a bit of tweaking on my fit. Today was the first race on the new bike and I never had encountered anything like that on the old bike.

I managed to swing myself into the car and drive home in no small amount of discomfort. The pressure on my hips just from sitting was causing me some serious pain. It took me about 4 minutes to get out of the car and open the gate so I could drive in- then another three minutes to park the car and close the gate. Once upstairs (another interesting challenge) I dropped the lid of a bottle on the kitchen floor. I then realised I couldn't bend over to pick it up. I had to find a pair of long-handled barbeque tongs to extend my reach.

Anyway, after a nice hot shower and putting on the compression gear, I'm starting to feel less like I have been doing some bull-riding and more like I should be able to at least walk out to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. And then I think maybe a bit of a relax in front of the telly for the last day of the Olympics may be in order.

Cheers- ride safe

21 August, 2008

I think winter might be over

Better not say that (or think it) too loud. Looks like we're finally on our way out of the cold weather that has been hanging around for far too long this year. This morning was a balmy 19C when I headed out just before 5:00. It was a bit breezy so I felt I got a real good workout this morning- throw in a bit of hill work and about 35km all up- a great way to start the day.

And my lovely wife Dee has spoiled me again with some extra birthday presents that were a little late arriving- three cycling books. A novel by Tim Krabbe called "The Rider" and two training books by Joe Friel- "The Cyclist's Training Bible" and "Cycling Past 50" which I had hoped was going to give me the secret to maintaining my speed at 50+ km/hr for more than 400 metres but is in fact a guide to fitness and performance for those of us of a certain vintage and beyond.

All my fellow oldies on the roads better keep checking over their shoulders.....

I also treated myself to a new set of lights for the bike(s). The technology and advancements in lighting is unbelievable. I have a set of ultra bright LED lights and a 6 hour lithion polymer rechargeable battery that weighs about 400 grams and has got to be the brightest light I've ever seen. If there is a downside to these lights, it's that I never realised just how much glass is on the road and now it all shows up like a million tiny, sparkling daggers.

The set came with mounts for two bikes so I can set up the roadie and the MTB and just switch the lights and battery from one to the other. There's also a helmet mount if I feel so inclined. And the service was fantastic- I ordered the lights on Sunday on the website- was notified of confirmation and shipping of my order on Monday and had the lights in hand on Tuesday afternoon.

Not one to plug businesses, but this was outstanding- an Aussie company called AyUp

Anyhow, the sun is setting and it's time to grab a glass of vino and start cooking. Oh yeah and there's some sporting events on from Beijing.

Cheers- ride safe

12 August, 2008

Cyclists behaving badly

What is it about some cyclists? They just can't stand to abide by the road rules and cycling etiquette. I have just notified a bunch of my cycling group that I'll no longer be riding with them on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

I've been riding with this group for about a year now and until recently things have been pretty good but there seems to be a mentality creeping in that this is a preliminary stage of the Tour. The regular riders have maintained their demeanour but some of the newer riders feel they have to do anything to stay with the pack. Heaven forbid that they should ever get dropped and have to catch up or ride solo.....no let's throw away all of the good work that so many of us have done to engender positive relations with other road users by ignoring and/or even flaunting road rules.

This morning's incident involved the pack approaching a roundabout and a car entering from the right. Now this car has the right of way and all traffic must give way to said car. Calls of "Slowing" and "Stopping" were heard and several riders slowed and/or stopped. The driver, a young lady, appeared to be intimidated by the number of cyclists and stopped mid-roundabout as several of the group had decided to proceed through the roundabout.

At this point, most of the group rode through and continued on their way leaving several of us perplexed, pissed off and waiting at the roundabout.... Just like that, several months of good cyclist/motorist relations down the tube in a matter of seconds.

So from tomorrow, I'll make my own rides and anyone wanting to join me is welcome. But anyone who decides they want to ride outside the road rules would do well to keep away.

Ride safe- please

08 August, 2008

And all is right with the world....

Just got back from the airport- Dee has returned from Cairns and all is well....

Let me tell you, it was bl**dy cold this morning. I headed out at about 4:45- and yes I did have something to eat today before I left so I didn't blow up like yesterday. I kept my promise and did some hill work- I know it makes me strong, I know it makes me strong, I know it makes me strong.....if I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll learn to (like, suffer, endure- the choice is yours) them more.

Stopped by our favourite Bike Shop today on the way home this afternoon- just for a bit of chat- as you do. Mike asked what happened to me yesterday during the ride- nice to know your fellow riders take note when something is not quite right.

So tomorrow's ride should be on the cool side. Temps are supposed to be into the single digits first thing in the morning so I'll be digging out the woolies again- just when I thought the season had turned and we were heading for warmer temperatures.

Oh yes, somebody told me the Olympics start tonight. Gawd, I'm glad I'm not cycling through Beijing. That can't be good for one's lungs.

Ride safe

07 August, 2008

It doesn't pay to oversleep

I'm not quite sure what happened this morning- maybe I had my arm under the pillow and didn't hear the alarm, maybe I heard and turned it off....whatever it was, I woke up about 3 minutes before I meant to be out the gate and on the road. I just can't believe the dogs let me sleep in like that- where's their sense of responsibility? Well I suppose it was on the chilly side so maybe they were looking out for my health.

Anyway....no time for oatmeal this morning. Just grab the water bottles and go. And so away I went and in about 35 minutes I knew it was a bad decision. I was just managing to hang on and by the time the group hit the 2/3 mark, I was done....there was no way I could stay with the pack. And just to rub a bit of salt in the wound, I picked up something in my front tyre- so I leaned forward to see if I could brush it off with my hand; but, in so doing, I seem to have discovered some new Pilates position as the pain that shot through the muscles at the back of my neck made me gasp.

So I eased myself back into position and gently pedalled the next couple of km's while things returned to normal. Who would have thought that missing your oatmeal could be so painful?

Dee gets back tomorrow night (Friday) after a week in Cairns. She has put in a big week doing a mapping project- hopefully she'll be able to get in some km's and some relaxation next week- she's supposed to be on leave!!!

And no race for BoaB this weekend. There is a crit but we're going to a black tie dinner on Saturday night and somehow I suspect that I won't be in race condition at 5:30 Sunday morning.

Ride safe

06 August, 2008

When do you get home?

I'm supposed to be doing a Homer- sitting around in my jocks, watching TV and drinking copious amounts of beer while eating doughnuts. "D'oh!"

I'm batching it this week- just me and the dogs and "Boy howdy am I lonely". Dee is in Cairns for the week and number one son (well, only son when you get down to it) is in Brisbane. I've been out for my regular early morning rides but it just isn't the same coming back to a quiet, empty house. Same during the evenings- especially this evening which is the night when we watch our favourite shows. I could be watching them now but it doesn't seem right- just not the same at all.

I'll go for my ride tomorrow and Friday and then Dee will be back Friday and the world will return to its rightful axial tilt.

I need some retail therapy- think I'll go online and look at some new pedals.

Ride safe

03 August, 2008

50 Years plus 3 days

The birthday boy made it through his 50th with no damage sustained. We had a very quiet day on Friday, spent the morning at home and then headed off to the beach with the rellies for a stroll along the sand and some time spent collecting sea shells. It's something we do far too infrequently, we live in an absolutely spectacular part of the world and we only seem to go to the beach when we have visitors.

Friday we saw four (yes that's 4) people at the beach- and two of them were working cast-nets trying to catch bait fish or prawns for fishing. The beach extends for about 20 km- soft, flour-fine white sand so the density of people was about 0.035 people per kilometre.

Lots of interesting shells to be found and a few were collected to make their way to Canada with Dee's sister. One of the most interesting things we saw were groups of soldiers crabs making their way across the beach. Small troops of bright blue-shelled crustaceans traipsing across the beach ridges on whatever their appointed mission was. When you approached them, they would do one of three things:

A) Keep on going in their loose formation

B) Stop and pull their bright red legs in close to their shell and remain immobile in the hope you couldn't see them

C) Find a soft spot in the wet sand and quickly burrow out of sight.

Yesterday was the regular Saturday coffee ride and today we had a leisurely ride out to the dam and back. We had hoped to ride out to Oak Valley this morning to see the finish of the 120km Charters Towers to Townsville race but had to deliver Dee's sister and partner to the bus stop so we drove (Shock-Horror!!) out to the finish. I had every intention of riding this race but after getting sick in June, I just didn't have the fitness to carry it off. Next year; there's always next year...

Back to work tomorrow =8^( C'mon weekend!!

Ride safe

31 July, 2008

50 Years minus 1 day and counting

I don't feel any different yet. I know my legs are a bit sore after yesterday's 100km effort and then this morning's ride- we were doing 35+ within the first 5 minutes of leaving.

The big discussion this evening has been, "What do you want to have for your birthday dinner tomorrow?" Crikey!! I don't know....is it my last meal ever?

I guess you only get one 50th birthday so I should think about this. Balinese pork satay with peanut sauce, gado-gado (steamed vegetables), nasi goreng or coconut rice. Maybe with "Black Forest cake" for dessert. The other possibility that comes to mind is one of the local butcher's Texas T-Bones; a large bone-in rib steak; about 2" thick on the bar-b-q.

Saturday I'm thinking of having a "few" of the cycling gang around for my version of "Fatty's" beer-boiled brats with a few cleansing ales or maybe sparkling grape in the methode champagnoise.

Anyway- gotta run. Big game of cribbage about to break out with the rellies. Dee and I are ahead 3 games to nil after last night's effort,

Cheers, ride safe

30 July, 2008

100 K-Day

And just like yesterday, today dawned clear and cold. 7.7C was the official temperature at the airport, add in the wind chill and it was supposed to feel like 6C. Jump on your bike and head down the road and it feels like -25C.

So we put it off for a bit- let things warm up before heading out- it's great being on leave!! Dee and I headed out around 7:30 with every intention of hitting the century mark for the day. And we did- off to the dam and a nice loop through some acreage properties and then back to the city via the bikeway, along the shore near the port and then down the Strand for a well earned coffee and quick nosh.

Then off to the beachside suburb of Pallarenda and back to the city before heading off to the Palmetum, one of the city's botanic gardens, to meet up with Dee's sister. We almost didn't make it though. As we came back through the city, a young lady thought getting into a parking lot was much more important than the wellbeing of any cyclist and proceeded to cut across my line of travel as my front wheel passed the entrance to the parking lot.

I locked it up and turned the bike sideways and managed to avoid hitting the car but I was less than impressed and decided to discuss the situation with the driver- a young lady who was driving with "P" plates meaning a "Provisional License". Upon questioning her as to what she was doing, the immediate response was, "Get off the road. You're not allowed on the roads."

I could see discussion would go nowhere even though Dee was trying to explain that "Yes, we were entitled to be on the road" so we took down the registration number of the car and advised the driver that I would be making a report to the police.

Off we went and met Carol and Bill at the Palmetum, strolled the gardens for a bit and then I headed off to the police station to make my report. It gets a bit funny here as the last time I made a report, they took all of my details plus the details of the offending vehicle and the incident. This time it was "rego number of the vehicle only"- didn't want my details or the details of any of the witnesses. Previously, the officers recording the details have asked if I was willing to go to court...today- nothing..."All I can do is call the registered owner of the vehicle and advise that a complaint has been made against someone driving that vehicle" said the officer. "And if they deny having done it then there's no sense going any further because there is no evidence to go on."

Somewhat foolishly I suggested that perhaps one of the City Council's security cameras may have recorded it and perhaps I could approach the council to see if there might be anything there. After all, the council is quick to point out at every opportunity what a great job all of the new security cameras are doing in reducing anti-social behaviour in the inner city precinct.

"No sorry. Council doesn't look at those, we do (meaning the police) and if we didn't see it happen, there's nothing we can do." "Sigh!!" I hope I get a different desk officer next time; I was really starting to feel like I was the bad guy in this scenario.

Oh and many congrats to Dee on her first 100Km day...she did it easy =8^)

Ride safe (I know I will)

29 July, 2008

She was a strong Sou'Wester

The alarm went off at its usual time this morning- 04:30, but I was already awake. We had a cold, dry change go through about 3:30 and the wind picked up to about 30km/hr with gusts a bit stronger. The palms were lashing about and fronds were brushing the side of the house- no way to ignore it. And the temperature dropped several degrees in a matter of minutes as well.

Now normally on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do a bit of a group ride but there was no way I was going out this morning in that wind. The weather played a part in it but also I had no insurance on the new bike. Dee had made valiant efforts yesterday to move our home and contents insurance to a company that specialises in insurance for bike owners. No limit on the number of bikes or their value, whether you're racing or cruising, in transit anywhere in the world- sounded like the perfect insurance...."Yes we'd like that please....Send us the quote and we'll pay." Oh and we were advised we had to cancel our existing policy- which we proceeded to do.

The quote never arrived and after several calls, we found out that we were without any insurance as the underwriters for the new policy had not responded and so no new policy in place meant no ride in "somewhat less than ideal conditions" for this cat.

Today brought no further joy as the underwriters finally responded saying that because we live in a "cyclone-prone area" our excess (deductible for NA types) was $1500.00. So back on the phone to our previous insurers, Dee resurrected our policy with extra cover for the bikes with the promise from the rep that they would hunt down all of the information relating to possible bike related claims. That's more like it.....

And Dee's new MTB has been returned to the shop...it just wasn't right. I've gotta say that the owner of the Bike shop, Mike Prentice, is a real gem. He asked Dee yesterday how she was liking the Myka and when she responded to say she had only ridden it once since buying it, he wanted to know why. The short of it is that the bike was still too big.....now Mike has just returned from a Specialized dealers session in the USA and as soon as he saw the '09 Myka models he thought of Dee as the geometry brings the the top tube in at about 2.5cm lower.

Mike suggested we return the Myka and he'll put the money already paid against an '09 model- no questions, no problems, "we're going to fix it." Now I'm like everyone else and I buy my fair share of bike stuff on-line, but there is no way you can get that from an on-line shop and I will continue to support my LBS- "Good on ya Top Brand"

And here's a real eye opener from NYC courtesy of the "Globe and Mail" of Canada: You really need to watch the "You Tube"video to believe this story:

Cheers- ride safe

28 July, 2008

A great start to the week

Dee and I are on leave this week so we headed out the door at about quarter to five and got in a smooth 35km before 6:30. It seemed to get colder as we rode- started out around 15 I'm sure, and then just kept dropping until it hit about 10C. I mean, how does that work? The sun is up and it should be starting to warm up- shouldn't it?

Anyway, probably just as well. We have guests at the moment and it would be untoward to abandon them while we cycled off into the sunrise. Besides, we had fun today at one of the local tourist attractions. Billabong Sanctuary is a wildlife park specialising in Australian fauna and I guess as a local you forget how good some of these things are. So away we went for an afternoon of close encounters with a variety of Oz's more famous marsupials, birds and reptiles. Koalas- always a big hit but everyone is always amazed at how little they move- they sleep 18-20 hours per day. Kangaroos (reds and eastern greys) and their smaller cousins, the wallabies (rock, swamp, nail-tailed, pretty faced) and their even smaller cousins- the pademelons- I know, sounds like something you'd get in a fruit and veg market. Anyway, lots of them roam free around the park and are not shy about coming up to see if you might have some seed to offer.

Some pretty impressive birds like the emu and southern cassowary, a variety of raptors and parrots, cockatoos and kookaburras and many wild species that are free to come and go as they choose....but with lots of people tossing bird seed around, why would you go anywhere else? (if you were a bird). Dingoes, snakes, lizards, tarantulas- a real good mix of the things most of us may never see.

The stars of the day inevitably turn out to be the saltwater crocodiles. These throwbacks to Jurassic Park never fail to impress and today was no different. The park rangers, armed with some fish heads and a couple of lengths of bamboo enter the croc enclosure and get these guys to come up close and personal with the spectators, lunging out of the water to get a bite of lunch.

The last time I was there they were armed with a plastic fan rake- you know the ones you can buy for about $3.00. Just what I'd want when faced with a 250kg saltie who wants something to eat and is able and ready to launch himself about 3/4 of the way out of the water.

Anyway, back on the bike in the morning- and they say it's supposed to cool off even more tonight. Where did I put my arm warmers this morning?????

Cheers- ride safe

23 July, 2008

It's raining again....

Or rather.... still. This has been a bit of a bizarre week for weather. It's not uncommon to have winter rains but we've had more wet days than dry over the past week. The creeks and streams are flowing- all of the leaves and accumulated dust along the kerbing at the side of the road has been washed away and the footpaths in front of everyone's houses are quickly turning green and shaggy.

It has certainly played havoc with my riding schedule- so far this week I'm up to a grand total of zero, zip, nil, nada, nichts, rien- nothing. I didn't ride Monday after Sunday's Paluma Push- a well earned rest day I reckoned. Then Tuesday and Wednesday it bucketed down all day with the outlook for Thursday being, wait for it.....more rain.

So the weekly total (which can run from 175 to 300+ km) is going to be hard pressed to make 150 this time around. Anyway, it will all come good and the k's will eventually accumulate beneath the new Tarmac but damn it's hard to sit here and watch the rain pelting down.

I'll make it up next week- I'm on leave and I'm aiming for a 400 km week. I hear a sauvignon blanc calling me.... I better go check.

Ride safe

22 July, 2008


Ok- it's all over. For any of you who have been hiding under a mass of roots somewhere waiting for Frodo and Sam-Wise GamGee to come by- World Youth Day in Sydney has finally drawn to a close and 250k Pilgrims(!!!) and Pope Benny have made their way out of the Land of Oz and back to their homes.

I have to say that there has been more media coverage here on WYD than there was during the "Shock and Awe" campaign to relieve Saddam of his WMDs. I mean you couldn't turn on the television without being inundated with reports of activities associated with WYD. Don't these people know the TdF is on?

But best of all is MBD which is My Birthday- fast approaching next week. Now I happen to be hitting the half-century mark this year and instead of pining for a sports car or a boat, I happened to cast my eye on a new bike. Dee, my beloved wife and partner, bought me the bike I desired- a Specialized Tarmac Pro.

I collected it last weekend and did manage to get one ride in before the weather turned to absolute crap. And the verdict was "Shweet!!" I am just waiting for the weather to come good again so I can get back on the road and enjoy the new beast. We're going through some really unseasonable weather this year. Usually we have crisp cool nights and dry sunny days with temps around 28C and blue skies forever. Perfect cycling weather....this week however has been somewhat less than ideal- rain, cold temps and more rain have come together to make the mornings unfavourable for hitting the roads. Great for the gardens but lousy for getting in some serious km's on the new wheels.

Maybe tomorrow.....if not, then maybe Thursday (or Friday, or Saturday) and next week I'm on leave so I'll be able to have my early morning rides and stick around for a coffee too- bonus!! And I might just put the Slick-a-saurus tyres back on the MTB and do a turn or two on the roads on the Jamis. It really freaks some people out to see an MTB doing 35 down the roads.....

Ride safe

20 July, 2008

I survived Paluma Push 08

I made it. The Paluma Push '08 was quite an ordeal and I made it through with nary a scratch- no broken thumbs, no grazed elbows, knees or shoulders- at least not on this body. The Push was not kind to a lot of people this year.

The course was modified for the competitive class with a circuit around the Paluma Dam. Now I have to confess, I only rode the recreation class, so I didn't have the "joy" of experiencing the dam circuit. But from all accounts of cycling mates, it was absolutely horrid. About 10 km of greasy, tree root riddled, rock strewn hell.

More than 1 rider came to grief on this section with a couple of riders hitting the deck: one destroyed knee and one very nasty collision involving a rider's mouth and a large rock.

The whole of the group rode the section to the dam and it was no easy stretch either. The road had been graded last week to smooth out some corrugations but then we had 50mm of rain to turn the clayish, dusty surface into a claggy mess that sucked your tyres onto the road and sapped all of your strength.

I had to stop several times and walk simply because there was no way to ride forward- too many people pushing their way forward on foot- no track to ride. And as a result of reduced wheel speed, the mud/clay was not flung off but had a chance to accumulate on the tyres. Fun factor 0%. And this section of road claimed casualties- one unfortunate lady came to grief at about the same place I did last year, ending up with a compound fracture of the radius and major laceration to the bridge of her nose.

A couple of collisions with trees and rocks along the single-track also had a few riders unable to finish the race. So all in all, a great success!!

Dee returned from her conference today with a well deserved award from the Spatial Sciences Institute of Queensland- "Professional of the Year" Yaaayy!!

Oh yes- and another new bike has joined the stable. BoaB is now going to be getting about on the roads on a new Specialized Tarmac Pro- "Shweet!!"

Cheers- ride safe

16 July, 2008

Is that rain I hear on the roof?

"Is that rain I hear on the roof?" Those were the words I heard as I made my way back to bed at 4:45 this morning- and truer words were never spoken. It was raining and had been for some time. No great tropical downpour but just a nice gentle rain- about 20 mm overnight. Enough to wash the dust off all the plants and give them a shiny finish. Oh and also enough to make an early morning ride considerably less desirable.

It could also have a slightly detrimental effect on our MTB event on Sunday- The Paluma Push. One report I heard from the race area was that there had been 25 mm on Tuesday and another 25 or so overnight and this morning so all of those nice dry tracks we'd been looking forward to will be a bit more of a challenge- oh and all of the creeks should be running too.

Methinks an extra set of clothes for a change at race end might be in order...and a portable shower and towels and ......

Dee unfortunately will be unable to ride this year's Push as she had booked for a conference down on the Gold Coast and doesn't return until Sunday afternoon. And she was so looking forward to riding that new Myka in the Push.

Anyway, I better make a move and get the meal started so I can kick back for tonights stage of the TdF. C'mon Cadel- hang on to the maillot jaune. Oh look!!! it's starting to rain again.

Ride safe

13 July, 2008

Well I thought I was feeling better- and I definitely am. But I wouldn't go so far as to say fully recovered. Just a little bit of a cough- shouldn't be too much of a problem if I race. I mean, I rode three days last week including some hill work (which either proves I was feeling considerably better or had completely lost the plot) and was feeling so much better than the previous two weeks that I was sure a Sunday morning crit was just what I needed.

Baaarrrrpp!!!- wrong answer. By the time I finished my 25 minutes plus 2, I had been lapped by the entire field- and, I think by some bloke out walking his chihuahua....

Things started Ok- about 4 back for the first three laps and then the wheels fell off. The cough returned and with each cough, it became a bit more difficult to suck in enough air to keep me going. So I resigned myself to pulling back enough to stop the cough and yet still finish. Like I've said before, unless I flat, fall off or have a mechanical, I'm going to finish every race I start.

And really I do feel better for having gone out and had a bash at it this morning.

Next Sunday is the Paluma Push and I'm either going to be rid of this cough or I'll be eating Throatees by the handful.


08 July, 2008

3 Stages down....

3 days down in the TdF and no big surprises yet (at least not for me). Looking forward to tonight's time trial- should separate a few sheep from goats.

Personally I have been absolutely dismal in getting out on the road. I woke this morning at the first beep of my alarm, jumped out of bed to the sound of.....rain. Now, it usually doesn't rain in Townsville during the winter. Add that to the fact I'm just coming off a really miserable cold and you may have an inkling as to why I crawled back in the sack and spooned for another two hours. I just don't want to be sick anymore.

So I have every intention of hitting the road tomorrow morning. The video recorder is set for tonight's TT- so no excuses like "I stayed up too late watching the Tour" and given the fact that I haven't even done 100 km in either of the last two weeks, I better haul my butt tomorrow.

Oh yeah, the labour dispute that fronted during the broadcast of Stage III, reminded me that our company is currently in negotiation to renew our collective agreement. Our last agreement expired in February and negotiations have been somewhat painful with neither side willing to give quarter. COuld be a somewhat painful process.

Stay safe on the roads

06 July, 2008


Gardening in the tropics is very interesting by times (read challenging). A few years back, we decided that a nice bamboo would really look good in a particular spot in the back yard. And not just any bamboo will do. There is a particular variety called "Timor Black" (bambusa lako) which held a particular appeal with its glossy black stems and tight clumping form. And it grows about 12-15 metres in height.

We purchased said bamboo from the local expert in N Queensland and planted it- fed it, watered it, nurtured it and "Boy howdy" did it respond. It grew with a vigour I haven't seen in too many other plants. The only problem(s) was/were that it wasn't "Timor Black", wasn't anywhere near black in colour, was almost 20 meters tall and although it did grow in a clump, had a rather undesirable tendency to lean across the yard and throw much shade across what had been a very lush, grassy area for the the dogs (and humans) in the backyard.

Said grassy area had become a dust bowl and so last week the bamboo was dispatched to the mulch pile via chainsaws and wood chippers along with a large mango tree and a goodly percentage of the poinciana. The tree lopping blokes have a machine called a stump grinder which is a rather nasty looking petrol powered carbide-tipped machine which turns the meager remaining stump of your mango (or any other tree species for that matter) into a lovely pile of soft wood chips.

Works pretty well for trees stumps- bamboo is another story. The root mass for bamboo is thicker than hair on a dog and this machine doesn't go nearly deep enough so it was left to Dee and I to remove as many of the "culms" (the part from which the bamboo grows) and as much of the root mass as possible. So armed with sharpened shovel and axe, mattock, garden rake and crowbar- I excavated several cubic metres of bamboo roots and culms over the last two days to a depth of about 30 cm. For a while it looked like we were putting in a spa but eventually we got there. Good riddance to bad garbage I say.

And I hear you ask- "What has this got to do with cycling?"

Well, dealing with this horticultural mistake has taken me off my bike for most of yesterday and today and I'm not happy. I mean recovering from last week's cold was one thing, but I was so tired from swinging the mattock and the axe and shoveling and prying that I couldn't even stay awake for all of Stage 1 in the TdF. "Bl**dy bamboo". I suspect that Stage II will be much the same- settle down in front of the telly and listen to Phil Leggat and Paul Sherwin and quietly drift off to sleep about 50 km into the stage.

Ride safe

05 July, 2008

TdF '08 Bring it on!!

Ok- only 5 hours until Stage 1 in Brest and I'm ready for it. Live broadcasts start here at 10:00pm so it really makes for 3 hard weeks of watching le Tour and then getting up at 04:30am for my regular daily ride. There may just be a few nights when the video recorder gets set-up.

Things are also looking better in the health stakes- the cold has loosened its grip and allowed me to make our regular Saturday coffee ride this morning. I gotta confess it was a bit colder than I like.....10C which is probably better than a winter morning in Nova Scotia. Oh yeah- couldn't find my arm warmers could I?

And it had to happen.......I'd been speaking to some mates earlier in the week about the good run I've been having as far as flats go. I had put a set of Michelins on in April and hadn't had a flat since, but today was the day. Interestingly enough, there was a piece of glass and a sliver of metal embedded in the tyre not more than 1 cm apart. The metal was near the centre and the glass was toward the rim in the same spot- not further around the tyre- I just happened to find the glass by chance as I changed my grip on the tyre to remove the metal. (I guess my luck hasn't deserted me after all)

Looks like tomorrow is going to be a day for MTBs. With the Paluma Push only a fortnight away, I better get some k's on those big fat knobby's. (Or it could be a ride to the dam in the morning and MTB in the afternoon). And it looks like our team is down one for the Push. Dee has a conference on the Gold Coast and isn't scheduled to get back in time for the ride. (means she also is going to miss the TdF soirée taking place Chez Renault. C'est dommage!!)

Ride safe

03 July, 2008

On the road again...

Well I made it out of bed at 4:30 this morning and headed into town to catch the group ride but on the way I decided to take it easy this morning and not do the full ride at speed. Legs felt pretty good considering I've only had a couple of fairly easy rides over the last two weeks. My head and chest were a bit of a different story.

Congestion and a dry hacking cough made it easy to change direction just as the pace climbed above 35- heading for 40. So 3 of us made the turn and continued at a leisurely pace. I only finished on 25 km for the day but it got me back into the rhythm without feeling exhausted.

I'll leave the alarm set for 4:30- I think I'll be right for a bit more of a challenge tomorrow.

Oh yeah- Queensland won the Rugby League State of Origin series last night 2 games to 1 by virtue of their 16-10 win over New South Wales.


02 July, 2008

State of Origin

Wednesday and I'm still not back on the bike but I have great hope that I'll be out for a ride tomorrow morning. For tonight, I'll just have to settle back and watch "State of Origin III".

This is a peculiarly Australian phenomenon as far as I can tell. The game of Rugby League is played predominantly in New South Wales and Queensland and every year a three-game series is held between the two states with the teams being made up of professional players who have played their junior rugby in one of the two states.

It's sort of like the All Star games in the NBA, NHL and MLB only you can actually have teammates facing each other based on where they played there junior rugby. As they say, "It's State against State, Mate against Mate." The passion for this series runs deep amongst league fans and all I can say is you really have to see it to believe it.

I getter get back to the television- I can hear cheers coming from other houses in the neighbourhood so things must be happening. "Go Queensland!!!!"

safe riding

01 July, 2008

Ok, I think I've been sick long enough now

I'm feeling better- really I am. I haven't coughed or sneezed for about twenty minutes now and when put into comparison with the last few days- it seems an eon. It might have something to do with the cold relief drugs I've been taking, but I'm putting it down to my body's fightback against my first cold for a considerable length of time.

Not feeling good enough to ride this morning but I just might be able to slip in a short ride late this afternoon and hopefully be well enough to get out tomorrow. I feel like I've been robbed of several perfectly good opportunities to get back on the bike and just revel in what cycling is all about.

Instead of the breeze in my face, it's a wheeze in my chest and the well-earned sweat from a good strong effort is replaced by a cold, clammy, fever-induced sensation that you just can't seem to shake no matter how many layers you put on or how many blankets are on the bed.

I drove Dee to the airport this morning- she's working in Cairns for the rest of the week so probably no cycling for her either until our Saturday coffee ride. I'm hoping she doesn't end up with this cold but I gotta say I don't like the chances.

On the way home from the airport I passed several groups and thought how good it would have been to be out this morning- beautiful sunrise, temperature around 15C and not a breath of wind.

Thought I might login with my work issued laptop and catch up on a few things and I'll take it as a sign that I'm sick and shouldn't be working as the three methods at my disposal of connecting to the corporate system have failed:

1. Broadband connection- password failed. And I did log a call with our Help Desk staff to have it reset. That was just after 8:00 this morning and I'm still waiting for my call to be returned.

2. Wireless modem connection- incorrect configuration. Even though I had been assured previously by staff that it was configured and ready to go.

3. Trusty old dial-up..."The modem you are trying to connect to did not respond"- or words to that effect and all subsequent attempts returned an engaged message.

I just wasn't meant to do any work today- I mean aside from working at getting better. Maybe some chicken soup for lunch.........

Oh, and it's Tuesday 1 July here in Oz already so "Happy Canada Day" to all of the Canucks out there..

Ride safe