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.