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