29 June, 2008

Well, I did ride today...

Sunday morning dawned crisp and clear but I was in no condition to race so I didn't. I had my first good lie-in in a long time and didn't drag myself out from between the sheets until about 7:30 this morning.

This cold really has a grip on me at the moment and it's dragging me down. I just couldn't stay off the bike so Dee and I headed out on the MTBs for a bit of a revisit to last Sunday's ride out through the the Town Common Environmental Park. The new Myka FSR Comp had to be broken in so what getter way to do it than a nice leisurely ride.

So off we went, me with a pocket full of tissues to accommodate my fully functioning sinuses. A nice doodle into town on the bike path along the river and then a coffee and piece of toast at the cafe before heading off to Pallarenda.

It was a most enjoyable ride- beautiful clear skies; a bit breezy and about 24C. Lots of birdlife in the wetlands along the way- pelicans, magpie geese, egrets and herons, brolgas and a few jabirus made it all worthwhile.

Dee made her way out on the new softtail- her first ride on a dual suspension bike- I think she liked it!!! Wants to go back tomorrow for another go. And you know what? So do I....

Yeah it was a bit disappointing not being able to get out there and go hard at Oak Valley- I really like racing- getting in there and giving it a go- but it was even better to see the joy and happiness of someone on a new bike.

So I'll pack my sorry butt off to bed with a nighttime decongestant so I can breathe and with a bit of luck, I'll be well enough in the morning to do it all over again.

Ride safe- BoaB

28 June, 2008

I really don't like being sick

I rode today- just our regular Saturday coffee ride. Not just as in "just" the Saturday ride but just as in "only the coffee ride"- no race- for which I had nominated and paid my entry fee and was quite looking forward to. It was to be my first handicap race and my first race with actual prize money (Don't give up your day-job Sunshine. We're not talking big bikkies here.)

This cold which I have been so generously gifted by the good citizens of Brisbane, made it impossible for me to take part, so Dee and I headed up to Herveys Range to offer our services as race volunteers. Imagine our surprise when we got there and they said they had enough helpers for the day. That was really good news because normally the club is scratching to get help for the races.

So we spectated- watching each group (or individual) head out at their appointed interval. I'm not sure if I was sighing externally, but internally I was churning- I wanted to be out there. Well, even if I was sighing, it probably couldn't be heard through the sneezing and coughing.

There were a few early returnees, punctures and lack of conditioning were the main causes but the scratch handicappers caught the main pack about 500 metres from the finish and it was a great bunch sprint to close out the race.

We were watching for one of our Saturday group- Sue- who has recently taken up racing (with a vengeance too I might add. She gives the blokes a real run.) She unfortunately had an accident- clipping the wheel of the rider in front of her and coming down. She was quite shaken with some abrasions to arm and hip and her helmet is toast- better her helmet than head!! Hope you have a quick recovery Sue!!

Tomorrow is Oak Valley, for which I have nominated and paid. But I really don't like my chances of staging a miracle recovery overnight.

I just might have to strap on the "other" shoes and go for a bit of a ride on the MTBs. Dee did get her new "Dually" today and will definitely need to develop an intimate association with her new bike before the Paluma Push. I think I hear Bald Rock calling us back again.

Cheers- ride safe, stay healthy


27 June, 2008


I spent the week working in Brisbane. No bike, no hope!!

I was welcomed to the office with a loud, germ-filled sneeze on Monday- and so began the slow descent to a weekend where I expect to spend the majority of my time nursing a cold. I mean- "For crying out loud folks!" If you're sick- stay away from work- that's why they invented sick days. Oh sorry I forgot- most people here who would be amongst the first to succumb to a cold- don't have any sick days because they've used them all up taking Mondays off for a three day weekend.

I get my flu shot every year and have been very successful in avoiding any bouts of flu for the last 5 years. The cold on the other hand is a different story. There is no defence as such- just staying as healthy as possible and avoiding those who are already incubating and if you do happen to catch one- give everyone else a bit of assistance and stay home from work.

I'm supposed to race tomorrow (and Sunday) but if the symptoms I'm currently experiencing are any indication, I expect to spend both days helping out as a race official. Volunteers make the races work so if I can't ride, I'll be glad to lend a hand.

If I do feel like riding, it could be interesting as I haven't been on the bike since last Sunday. All shall be revealed by tomorrow afternoon I'm sure.

Looks like there could be a new bike in the stable before too long. Dee's MTB definitely needs to be upgraded to a dually and even more so after last Sunday's little expedition to Bald Rock.

Ride safe- cheers

22 June, 2008

Pedalling underwater (and uphill)

Well, we raced this morning- a nice little circuit out at Oak Valley. It's a bit under 4 km with a nice little hill about 800 metres from the finish. Oh and at the bottom of that hill is a sharp left hander which immediately heads into another incline before the run to the line.

"C" grade does 8 laps of the circuit and this "C" grader did most of them on his own. I had trained quite well all week and felt really good after surviving last week's road race but there just didn't seem to be anything in the tank.

I guess I have to put it down to poor planning on my part. We were invited over to visit some friends at 5:30 Saturday afternoon and I had assumed (how big a mistake is it to assume anything) that we would be having a meal to go with the several glasses of wine. After a few nori rolls (which I do really enjoy) time and conversation passed until around 8:00pm- at which time I realised a substantial meal was probably not forthcoming.

So we made our farewells and headed home. Now I don't know about everyone else (I mean really now- how could I?) but there comes a point in the evening after which it is advisable for me not to eat or I'll spend a good part of the night awake- not from indigestion or discomfort- my body just seems to need some time after a meal to wind down.

I figured (hoped is more like it) that if I had some hot oatmeal for brekkie with a banana and supplemented that at the race with my power gels and hydration, things would be good.
Baaarrrpp!!! "Wrong answer". I got dropped on the first lap at the hill. So it becomes my own personal time trial.

When I decided to join in the local race circuit, I resolved to finish every race I start unless forced to retire due to mechanical failure, illness or accident- and so I made my way around the course for 7 more laps pretty much on my own. I did pick up another rider for 3 laps but when we made it to the hill on the 3rd of those laps, a 300 metre gap opened and I could not afford to hold back to wait.

Oh yes- I forgot to mention the wind. At about 3:30 this morning, the wind swung around to the south and started blowing at gale force (not quite but gusting to 35-40 km/hr). Some of the racers said, "It'll die down when the sun gets up a bit"- hopefully. Yes, well, someone neglected to notify the weather system responsible that it was supposed to ease off.....so my personal time trial felt like pedaling underwater- uphill- when facing into that breeze (and that seemed to be a larger percentage of the time than finding it favourable).

So I did finish the race- as I intend to do for all races and will come back ready to give it another go next week.

This afternoon we took the mountain bikes out for a bit of a spin with some friends through a wetland area- about 30km all up and just a nice easy ride along some dirt road with some corrugation and rough bits thrown in the mix. Unfortunately we had a bit of an incident where Dee hit some sand and came off her bike- that wasn't too bad as the sand was quite soft....but Al was following and in an effort to avoid running into Dee, hit the brakes (predominantly front). Now from where I was riding, Al stood his bike on it's nose to almost true vertical before coming down. A couple of minor cuts and scrapes and fortunately no damage to Al's shoulder as he recently had undergone surgery and this was one of his first forays back into cycling.

Dee has some abrasions and a bit of a bump which could become a colourful memento for a few days. Her MTB, alas, did not fare so well. A clean broken spoke on the rear wheel gave her a buckle of about 4 cm and a bit later when we took the front wheel off to transport the bike home, we found that the front forks have been twisted rather badly....in fact so bad that we couldn't get the front wheel back on the bike. So the new soft-tail may not be so far away after all.


21 June, 2008

Is this outrageous or what?

I'm sorry! I hadn't planned to post twice in one day but I just read a news story from Nova Scotia- my old stomping grounds- where the provincial government is spending $230,000.00 to purchase ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) to run a training program for kids between the ages of 6 and 15 to learn how to drive an ATV.

This has to be some kind of a joke- with spiraling fuel prices and concerns about the obesity rate amongst youth, surely there must be better things that can be done with that much money which will encourage/entrench healthy lifestyle choices.

This smacks of political lobbying to the benefit of no one but commercial interests.

Sometimes I have wondered about my choice to migrate to Oz (those times have been few and far between and I have never regretted it) but this confirms beyond all doubt, that the place I left behind is falling from a position of fondness in my memory and the place I have chosen holds so much hope.

Tomorrow is race day and I'm missing out on Fatty's Brats

It's Saturday night and tomorrow is another race day here in Townsville. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that- it's just that while I'm racing in Oak Valley tomorrow morning, on the other side of the globe is a cycling event of a different kind that I really wish I could have been part of.

Eldon Nelson a.k.a "The Fat Cyclist" is hosting a triathalon (as opposed to a triathlon) near his home in Utah in which participants are going to take part in a MTB event (how long and how difficult dependent upon one's level of enthusiasm and capability), followed by an aquatic event (I guess you can call sliding down a natural rock formation waterslide an aquatic event) ending with the consumption of beer-boiled brats (Bratwurst sausages we're talking here- not insolent youth).

For those not familiar with The Fat Cyclist, I recommend a familiarisation session with his "Award Winning" Blog. To all of the Triathaletes taking part in what I hope is the first annual event, enjoy!! To Susan, "Win"!!

Today was another of those magic winter days we have in North Queensland- brilliant clear blue skies, low humidity and temps around 27C- absolute magic.
Will the weather hold for tomorrow's race? Let's hope so because after last week's bone-numbing temperatures, I really don't want to ride without being able to feel my fingers for two weekends in a row- and besides, after the road race, we're planning a bit of an MTB ride out to Bald Rock- call it training for next month's Paluma Push.

And then unfortunately I'm off to Brisbane for work next week so the km's will be very limited. I just don't feel invigorated or work as well when I can't ride in the morning before work. Better not say that too loudly or they'll have me on a trainer hooked up to a dynamo powering my laptop.....actually, now that I think about it......

19 June, 2008

It's on again- The Paluma Push '08

It's almost a year since I suffered my first broken bone and I've decided to return to the scene to wipe the slate clean.

The Paluma Push is a fund raising MTB event held in the southern reaches of the Wet Tropics of North Queensland. There are 2 categories in the Push- a recreational class in which participants complete 42 km and the competitive class who get to do an extra 10 km. All of the money raised goes to the local Rural Fire Brigade.

It has become so popular over the last few years that entries have had to be capped at 500.

The circuit takes riders through some of the most spectacular bush around. It's a rare event because some of the land is privately owned, some is government land and it's not usually accessible.

Time warp back 11.5 months to last year's Push and I'm traveling quite well in my first MTB event- about 10km in when I get squeezed to the left on a downhill right-hand turn. Not much drama in that except the road surface was very loose gravel and as I tried to bring the bike back on track, the front wheel took a good bite and pitch-poled me onto the track- landing on my thumb. Adding insult to injury (that being the fractured thumb) was one of the following riders rode over my back and cracked the filler of my hydration pack. (I went out this evening and bought a new hydro pack)

I managed to finish the Push, albeit with some discomfort and much slower than I had hoped. I was unable to shift my front dérailleur unless I reached across with my right hand to shift and that gets a bit tricky on some of the single track sections. This inability to shift to the big ring led to some stretches of seriously high cadence and ensuing cramps.

I wasn't going to ride this year's Push. I was going to sell my MTB and put the money toward a new road bike but I have been convinced (and rightfully so) that I probably wouldn't buy another MTB of that quality again, so I'm going to hang onto it, ride it, enjoy it and do the Push.

This year our team, "Sore Optimists" is hoping to come in with times less than 3 hours and no injuries.

Dee- we gotta get you on that "dually". You're gonna love it!!

Oh and I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that it only took until 12:45 on Tuesday afternoon to get the fluoro light changed above my desk....and even then it took calls from my neighbouring workers to get it done.

18 June, 2008

Missed another day

I stayed up late last night- later than I have for a long time. And I payed for it this morning.

Last night was the local Sports Award evening where volunteers and participants (teams and individuals) are recognised for their efforts in sporting endeavours at a state, national and international level. I had been nominated for participating in a little known ice sport called broomball- sort of a "poor man's" version of ice hockey played with special shoes for running on ice and a ball instead of a rubber puck. I say little known because one doesn't think of ice sports too often in the tropics. A quick search on Google returned 546,000 results for broomball while a search for jai alai (another, shall we say, eclectic sport) returned 1.3 million results.

Anyhow, I had played for our state rep team in the Nationals and also refereed about a dozen games at the National competition. One of the local organisation's executive nominated me for a sports award and so I ended up at last night's proceedings. Fairly long, drawn-out proceedings and with over 400 athletes to receive awards, it was never going to be a half-hour ceremony, and I'm glad I stayed for the whole ceremony.

It never ceases to amaze me, the depth and breadth of sporting talent that this region produces. Everything from world class open water swimmers to 80+ year old table tennis champions, with a few world and olympic champions thrown in the mix.

So, a late arrival home and then our current house guest decided we should have a chat on the impending doom facing the world's population as a result of increased prices for fuel, food, housing,etc…sheesh!!

I think it was nearing midnight when I got to bed- considering my alarm was going to go off at 4:30 so I could do some hill work this morning, I was hopeful of nodding off quickly. Just wasn't meant to be!! I think I woke at 1:30 and then every hour thereafter. When 4:30 struck, there was no way these old bones were making it out on the road this morning.

The results from last weekend's two stage race are in and as expected, my time up the hill let me down- finished on the same time as the winner in the pack for the road stage but my hill work left me just outside the top 10- "D'oh!!"

Tomorrow beckons- I've carbed up tonight with a lovely beef and veggie soup with pasta- look out boys!! I'm ready to fire on all cylinders tomorrow.

Ride safe- we'll see you on the road



16 June, 2008


OK- so I didn't ride this morning. I've been told that you shouldn't ride every day- you need to give your body a chance to recover. And with yesterday's rather chilly temperatures still working their way out of my system, it wasn't a hard sell to stay in bed.
So I shut off my alarm on the first beep at 4:30 and snuggled down in the blankets for a couple of extra hours in the sack.
I guess it must be my bike getting back at me- "You didn't take me out for a spin today! Just you wait!" Call it carbon karma if you will.
I arrive at work at the usual time- about 30 minutes before I'm actually scheduled to start- turn on the laptop, grab a coffee and sit down to log on- but something is not quite right. Clink, clink, flash, flash in an endless pattern. One of the tubes of the dual fluoro lights above my desk is malfunctioning (I will call it much worse as the day progresses).
Being the dutiful sort, I log a call with our corporate Help Desk by leaving a message because "all of our operators are currently busy". A couple of hours go by and no response to my message- oh and in the interim, my immediate supervisor has appeared behind my desk. Not that I mind- it's just that he usually works in an office about 1100 km away and I haven't heard from him in a couple of weeks. Sort of makes the hair on the back of your neck stick up a bit in a "What's going on here?" feeling.
Now, I've often wondered how difficult it can be to change a light bulb and I think I'm going to find out. Two and a half hours after leaving the message with the Help Desk, I called again and actually spoke with a real person who, in a most helpful manner, logged a call. No sooner had she completed the call when I received two emails advising two different call numbers for my flickering light- which had now taken to giving that characteristic "clink" that only a fluorescent light can make on start-up.
Let's time warp ahead to 3:45 this afternoon and the light still hasn't been fixed. The flickering has just about taken me to the point of distraction but at least I was able to drown out the "Clink, clink" with my headphones and a bit of Queen and Billy Idol.
4:00- I'm outta here, making my way home as quickly as possible to get to the bike shop and meet my wife who was looking at a new soft-tail MTB for the upcoming Paluma Push. And you know what- getting on the bike and heading off down the road at 4o km/hr put everything else out of my mind- just me and the bike and the road.
Oh yeah- the bike shop had assembled the wrong size bike for Dee so no sale there today...
And does anyone want to make a bet on whether the light will be repaired when I show up for work tomorrow?
I'll be taking my bike out tomorrow- I don't dare have too many more days like this..


15 June, 2008

Are you sure we're in the Tropics?

Well I guess our luck with the weather had to run out at some point- it is after all, into the third week of winter in Oz. Mornings of late have been glorious with the overnight lows down to 18 to 22C and the highs around 28. Perfect weather to be out on a bike.

This morning, however; things were a little cooler shall we say. Our local cycling club held a two stage race today about 20 km inland. The first stage was a time trial up the range- starting time 7:00- "Be there by 6:30 to nominate for your race", were the instructions from the race organisers. So away we went just after 6:00 with the bikes in the car- "we" being my ever-supportive wife of more than 26 years and myself and headed for the base of Hervey Range.

I had dressed accordingly as the temperature at the house was about 15C- a little cooler than recent days but once the sun was above the horizon, things would warm quite quickly- theoretically. My gear included a silk underlayer, arm warmers, a wind vest and a micro-fleece lined jacket (for the drive only- I couldn't cycle in it). It was most interesting to watch the digital thermometer in the car take a dive south as we neared the starting point. It was between 14 and 16 most of the way out but about 5 km from the start- and in a distance of about 500 metres, the temp fell to 8, then 7, 6.5, 5 before finally coming to rest at 4.5 degrees.

4.5 degrees (Celsius that is), this is Tropical North Queensland- we're latitude 19.5 South- it's not supposed to be this cold and surely not when I have to race!! The plan had been for me to race and Dee was going to have a training ride up the range- she doesn't do a lot of hills but is starting to work them into her regime and this was a great opportunity.

After about 2 minutes outside the car, with a lovely warm polar fleece jacket keeping her warm, the decision was quickly made that she would assist the race officials by driving a vehicle behind one of the groups of racers. The training ride up the hill could wait for another day.

So the races were run- my first time trial and uphill to boot. I'll probably refer to the fact that I dislike hill riding quite often in my blog. I know it will make me a stronger, better cyclist and I try to get some hill work in on a regular basis- but you know, I just can't warm to it. I think I was only overtaken by three riders- we had a 30 second staggered start- and I almost caught one of the riders who headed off before me but I just couldn't summon up anymore in my legs. All in all, pretty happy with the ride.

After making our way to the top of the range with fingers and exposed flesh numbed by the cold, we regrouped for the road race stage. It was an interesting sight with all of the riders "steaming" in the rising sun after the effort of stage 1.

Stage 2 and we're off again- about 40 km this time and the peloton stayed pretty well grouped for most of the race. We averaged just over 35km/hour and only a few got dropped- I managed to finish amongst the main group but not quite as well placed as I had hoped......in the last 100 metres, I had spotted a bit of an opening and was making my move for it when two of the riders touched and things came a bit unstuck. Fortunately nobody hit the deck and we all made it safely across the line. Much discussion took place afterward- all of it in good spirit.

Oh, and it had warmed up by the finish- the temperature was up to a balmy 12C.

My first time trial, my first blog- it's been a pretty good day here in the tropics if a bit cool. I reckon any day you can get out on your bike, it's a good day.