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