30 December, 2009

We're nearly there..........

Today is New Year's Eve eve and as the day draws to a close, I sit here with a refreshing beverage waiting for the rain showers sitting off the coast to come ashore. A quick calculation of my mileage/kilometrage (is that a word?) for the year shows I am a mere 290 km short of 10K for '09. I am planning to ride tomorrow- but I gotta tell you now that the chances of me doing that many km's are somewhere between nil and non-existent.

So as a bit of a retrospect for '09 (I originally misspelled it as restropect which I guess would be a revisitation of all of the restaurants I visited during the year and I want you to know right now that it would be a pretty short article) I wanted to capture the things that stood out over the last 12 months.

The year started well, albeit very wet. The yard only flooded a couple of times- once for three days and once for four- just kidding- it wasn't that bad but it did seriously put a dent in the early year riding. Once the monsoonal rains eased, I got back on track (sorry- back on the road) and started making serious inroads in my training.

The first road event of the year was a TT which was run to raise money for the folks down south who had suffered through the bushfires. I was, much to my chagrin, unable to ride due to the lingering effects of the flu- bugger!! But there was a good roll-up and we were able to send a donation off to the Bushfire Appeal.

There was a pattern throughout the road season- ride a race- get sick and recover in three weeks time and then race again and then get sick again. I had four bronchial infections between April and September and to say I was getting a "bit pissed" off would be an understatement.

Almost forgot the ITB. I have been introduced to an element of torture- the ITB roller. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what an ITB was. The iliotibial band could have been an alternate or indie music group for all I knew. What I did know was that my left knee was causing me no small amount of pain and after several days I had to see what was happening. Off to the doc's who says, "looks like you have an ITB problem. Here's a referral to a good physio."

Like a good sort, I make an appointment to have some remedial therapy and have my left leg kneaded into submission by a young lady with arms which I am sure were just slightly smaller than "Hulk Hogan's". Thankfully she didn't slam my head into the floor- although she did say that since I was the only client in the building at the time, I could vocally let off a bit of pain relief if I felt so inclined. After some serious manipulation and ultrasound, I was sent on my way with some stretching exercises and an ITB roller.

If you have never used an ITB roller, I suggest you borrow one and give it a go. The feeling you experience once you have finished your session is of immense relief- relief that the session is over!!!

Oh yeah- I forgot to put the "getting hit by car" segment in there. In July a motorist failed to give way at an intersection and hit me despite my best efforts to avoid being struck. I have had "moments" shall we say, during the recovery when I was very apprehensive as I approached intersections and round-abouts, It seemed to have been a well-founded feeling as a cab driver had to come to a full tyre-sliding stop during this morning's ride when he failed to see me. And as evidenced by my writing if this blog entry, it was a good outcome- at least from my point of view.

So I didn't make 12K- not even 10K. But I'm here, I'm healthy, I still have a mad desire to ride and I live in hope..........hope that Dee and I will be able to continue to ride together in good health for many years to come and that all of you have a safe and happy 2010.

I wish all a happy New Year- ride safe, ride often and enjoy.


13 December, 2009

"Tis the Season

The year winds down and the weather heats up- welcome to cycling in the festive season in the tropics. Things are starting to heat up in North Queensland as we lurch toward Christmas.

Temperatures are on the rise and the humidity levels are starting to edge upward as well. It's really noticeable on the morning training rides as everyone is bathed in sweat- the humidity is so high that the sweat can't evaporate and just runs down your arms, legs, back, forehead and into your glasses (for those of us who are visually challenged and for those who aren't but like to keep the road grit and bugs out of our eyes).

You take your jersey off after the ride and when it hits the floor, it's with a sloppy sort of a splat instead of just being a non-auditory event. You can wring the moisture out of the chamois (not that you would really want to). And it seems no matter how many bottles of water you drink over the course of the day, you still feel like one of those apple dolls from the '80's.

We're hiding in the air conditioning today- well not exactly hiding. We're rewarding ourselves after spending the better part of the day working in the yard. We'll ride tomorrow!!

Cheers-ride safe

28 November, 2009

Name That Tune

I was just over at Bluenoser's blog, 50k Loop, and his most recent offering is on music- cycling music and what you listen to when riding- even if you don't have an iPod or personal portable music player of any description. What songs go through your head as you're putting the km's behind you?

I don't use an iPod when I ride- come to think of it, I don't use one at all since mine was absconded by someone in the household who has just reached over 10k km for the year but I digress-oh and a big congrats Dee!!! Even though I don't use one, there are certain songs which come into my head at certain times while cycling. It never seems to fail that "I am the Walrus" dances- or rather plods its way through my melon when I'm doing hills- but not every hill- only certain ones.

Is it the tempo that matches my mashing of pedals? Is it because I picture myself as having the same hill climbing skills as a walrus? Maybe I climb hills like a "semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower....." but I think more likely that I would like to have a little bit of whatever mind-numbing substance the Beatles partook of when writing the lyrics for that song- just to make me forget how much I dislike hills.

Another one that will slip in once in a while is another Beatles' tune- "Lucy in the Sky" and while I know the lyrics say...."the girl with kaleidoscope eyes..." I can only ever hear the Mondegreen, ..."the girl with colitis goes by..." which inevitably leads to a "wtf" moment and total loss of focus on cadence and intensity.

I suppose it could be worse, if it was "Achey, Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Virus, I meant Cyrus, I would probably just pull out into oncoming traffic.

Cheers- ride safe

25 November, 2009

Keeping the wheels turning

Rain again today on my training ride- two days in a row even... Yesterday morning's rain was a bit of a bucketing and I took it in stride- dripping shoes and all. I managed to ride out of the rain and figured I would finish the circuit albeit a bit dampish.

I was actually almost dry (except for the shoes and socks) at 1 km from home when I felt the first drops- with a little luck I just might beat it. Nope!! No such luck- two red lights made short work of my plans and as I sat at the second set of lights it just teemed down- at least it wasn't cold but it does wash the sweat out of the helmet padding and into your eyes.

This morning didn't look like rain at all when I left and really never did on the ride- just some light drizzle that loosened up the road grime (I did take a different circuit to yesterday wouldn't you know) and to top it off I was wearing a lovely white jersey, compliments of ABC Radio North Queensland, for the first time. The back of it now looks like a reverse skunk.

Here's hoping the soaking it's going through at the moment brings it back to white...

Cheers- ride safe

21 November, 2009


Our friend the Australian Magpie was back today. I hadn't seen him for a few weeks and thought the swooping season had ended or he had met an untimely demise in the front grille of one of the many trucks making its way into or out of the port area. The pic below is courtesy of www.lonebiker.dk and that's the angle that we as cyclists don't get to see.

Usually it is just a flash of a shadow and the snap of the beak at the back of your neck- sometimes once, sometimes in multiple swoops. This morning I thought we were in the clear. I didn't see him in his usual haunt as we approached but then he flew in from across the road to perch on top of a streelight pole and observed as we rode past. No shadow- he's not going to bother us. No sooner had the thought made its way through my wee mind and "Flash-Snap!!"

Maybe he just wanted to make sure we hadn't forgotten whose turf we were on- and it was only one swoop so his attitude must be cooling.

Many of our local riders will be waiting to hear the results of Cycling Australia's 2009 Awards being given out in Melbourne tomorrow night. Local pocket-rocket and cycling phenom, Ruth Corsett, has been nominated as the Female Elite Road Cyclist of the Year. Ruth has had a great year- leading the Australian team and finishing twelfth in the UCI Road Championships in Switzerland and just capped it off last week winning every stage of the Tour de Perth. Good luck Ruth!!

Crit tomorrow (Sunday) but it's debatable if I'll ride. A good friend and cycling mate is turning 65 tomorrow and there's a champagne brunch starting at 10:30. Given the number of corks and empty bottles our group has the capacity to leave behind, I think a nice early morning ride might be the better option.

Cheers- ride safe

03 November, 2009

More winners than just the Melbourne Cup

It's "The Race That Stops a Nation". Today was Melbourne Cup Day and all around Oz, millions of once-a-year punters put money on the nag they thought was going to bring it home. The favourites on the day, Viewed and Alcopop, just didn't cut it and at the end of 3200 metres, it was Shocking that strode home to victory by a length.

I didn't back a winner in the race but I'm not disappointed. I had a win today in another way as did many other cyclists who have been following a certain court case in California. Dr Christopher Thomas Thompson was found guilty on all charges after a trial in which he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving causing specified bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury and mayhem.

Details can be found at VeloNews.

Stay alert- ride safe

31 October, 2009

Turn the water on, turn the water off....

A cool breeze just blew across my feet- it preceded a nice heavy shower. The first decent bit of rain we've had this month. Should I run outside and turn off the sprinkler or leave it on? I think I'll leave it on- looks to be pretty short-lived.

It's probably a good thing we're home from our ride- the first rains seem to turn our poor drivers into absolutely appalling ones.

All of that oil and road grime and dust comes to the surface in a lovely mix that could make half the world slide away. Do the drivers slow down? Nope- business as usual and when one (or more) of them has an accident, invariably the media reports say that rain caused the accident.

There goes one of the pinheads now past the house- thankfully no crash. I really hate the mess these accidents leave behind.

Tomorrow is crit day and I'm hoping that the after-race results are better than last time when I ended up with bronchitis. According to Bluenoser, we just don't know when to stop cycling- not like when we lived in Canada where the snow would definitely put a stop to makin' the wheels go round. We just cycle and cycle and race and cycle and maybe we do stretch ourselves a bit- but we just can't help it.

I think I better go move the sprinkler....

Cheers- ride safe

18 October, 2009

A mixed bag.....

Well, "J, M & J" as they used to say back on the East Coast- That would be Jesus, Mary and Joseph if you're not familiar with phraseology from Cape Breton or Newfoundland.

I think I'm starting to come good after a fortnight's battle with bronchitis. Just about finished the second course of antibiotics and haven't coughed or wheezed all afternoon. That may have something to do with the fact that there has been a major change of air around here in the last couple of days. We have been subjected to dust storms and smoke haze from bush fires for a few weeks now and I'm quite certain that it has been aggravating my infection.

Yesterday, the wind shifted to an onshore breeze and the temperature started to drop and the smoke haze began to clear. Today was very pleasant as I did the chores around the yard.

Alberto, the partner of one of our fellow bloggers, Groover, is on the road to recovery after being hit by a car on Friday. His LOOK bike is a write off and he has few bumps and bruises but will soon be back on the road, "Here's to you and a speedy recovery AMR!!" Having recently gone through a similar episode, I can completely empathise with your situation. I hope your insurance company comes good.

Another friend has been taking part in the World Masters Games in Sydney this past week- Sue just missed the podium in her three events- Individual Time Trial, Crit and Road Race. Sue said in every instance, the winner was a national champ of their respective country, so "Good on ya Sue!!".

Anyhow- that's it for the week (fortnight actually I guess).

Cheers- ride safe

07 October, 2009

And the word for today is....bronchitis

So it was off to the doc's this morning. I was fortunate enough to be able to call and make an appointment at our local clinic for the same day so I trundled my miserable, sneezy, phlegmy butt into the waiting room. I try to be socially responsible and cover my mouth and nose with a tissue whenever I feel a sneeze coming on. And today I went so far as to remove myself to the men's toilet to blow my nose. I don't think anybody wanted to be subjected to that much mucus being expelled in one go.

I returned to my seat just in time to be summoned into the inner sanctum. Dr T was quite surprised to see me seated before him. He's also a member of the local cycling club and was at the crits on Sunday afternoon and was surprised at how quickly things had turned given that I rode a really strong race on Sunday.

So after all of the questions and examinations (Temp 35.7, BP 112/74, Pulse about 74), it was determined that I have bronchitis and have been put on a course of antibiotics to try and knock it down. "Keep an eye on it, and if it gets any worse, get back in here straight away. We don't want this to turn into pneumonia."

No kidding......

So it's off the bike for the rest of the week- do you think spinning on the trainer counts as well?

Cheers- ride safe

06 October, 2009

Why can't I just be healthy for more than a month?

It's a lovely day, blue skies, cooling breeze and temperature around 27C- if I'm not at work I should be off for a bit of a spin on a day like this.

Instead, I'm sitting here in a flu induced fever and sweating buckets. Whatever it is came on like a stealth bomber yesterday. After racing a "D" grade crit on Sunday afternoon (and deciding that it's time to go back up to "C" grade), I feel like I have been put through the wringer. Dee and I came back from the racing late on Sunday afternoon, cooked up some pasta, enjoyed a glass or two of wine and then retired for the evening.

When I woke yesterday, I knew things had started to go downhill. I had planned to do a bit of a recovery ride but my throat was sore, my nose and sinuses were full and the sneezing just didn't want to stop. So I didn't ride- but being the dedicated employee that I am, I toddled off to work for the day. I kept the sneezes to myself and must have gone through half a box of tissues by the end of the day.

I took a couple of cold/flu relief tablets when I got home ("Daytime/Non-Drowsy" it says on the pack). They weren't kidding.... I even took one of the nighttime tablets just before going to bed but it couldn't touch the daytime ones. I think I may have managed an hour in total and probably didn't do Dee any good either in the sleep department. Oh and the aircon decided it was going to make like U2 so we ended up turning it off and opening the windows to be serenaded about every 45 minutes by these guys. There's a link where you can hear their song.

So I'm home, on sick leave drinking many cups of tea and reading cycling blogs. It's not like I have any shortage of sick leave- I think about 730 hours- surely I'll be better before then.

Cheers- ride safe

04 October, 2009

An Open Letter to Magda Szubanski, Julia Morris, Channel Ten, Jenny Craig and Kellogg's

Dear all,

It has come to my attention, and that of many thousands of cyclists around the globe, that Magda Szubanski and Julia Morris, seem to have a dislike for a certain demographic of our society- that being road cyclists.

Now I can understand individuals not sharing the enthusiasm that others might have for their chosen physical activity/hobby/pastime/mode of transport- but I can not understand the vehemence with which these two people vented their distaste/dislike/hatred toward road cyclists. Announcing to the world on Channel Ten's "Good News Week" Monday night of this past week that it was okay to "take out cyclists' or "just door them" went well beyond comedic remarks.

Yes, the segment started out poking fun at cyclists and the "tap,tap" sound of the cleats on cycling shoes as riders make their way across the cafe floor- and the lycra outfits that many cyclists choose to wear. Sure- some of them are bright and pretty wild but for those who ride any amount will attest, a good pair of cycling shorts can make a world of difference when you're spending 3 or 4 hours on the saddle. If it had stopped there, most would have written it off as a bit of fun at our expense.

But no. Julia Morris, you who are a commercial figure in advertising for Kelloggs' All Bran cereal, got involved in the segment. You decided to really vent your spleen and in so doing encouraged road users to injure (or worse) cyclists by taking them out. Magda continued and agreed saying to just "door them". I have watched the video replay several times and there was no comedic aspect to those statements- it was a war cry- a rallying call to all and sundry who may have felt inconvenienced on our nation's roads by someone on a bike. And as someone who cycles often and also drives a car, there are certainly a generous number of road users who will gladly respond to the call.

I have had more close calls than I care to reflect upon and in July of this year was struck by a car driven by an individual who failed to give way at a T intersection. I have been verbally abused on the road and had items thrown at me from passing cars. I know of at least two local riders who have had people pull up beside them as they were cycling and grab their bikes. One of the riders was then pushed from his bike at speed and left to lay in the ditch. The resulting injuries left this medical professional unable to perform his role for some period of time. We'll never know if any of the patients he would have seen during that period may have died as a result of his specialized service being unavailable.

To Channel Ten: How does this happen on a show that's not live to air? And from a network which is a partner of the Amy Gillett Foundation. To say this shows irresponsible editorial practice would be a bit of an understatement.

To Kelloggs': You may want to rethink your position with your All Bran spokesperson (or corporate face as indicated on the linked website). The uptake of a healthy diet is but one part of a healthy lifestyle. When I am shopping for cereal or snack bars (and believe me, cyclists go through a good number of snack bars in a year), the chances of my purchasing a product represented by an individual who willfully incites violence against someone are nil. I am sorry but I will exercise my displeasure by opting to not purchase any item from the Kelloggs' line.

To Jenny Craig and oh yes- perhaps the "Fernwood Fitness Centres" may want to consider their position with Ms Morris as well- as it is indicated on her website that she is also the corporate face for your organisation. It would be unseemly to encourage people to enroll in your programs, take up a healthier lifestyle, maybe get out on the roads for some further exercise- only to be "taken out" by some aggravated, no mind neanderthal in 1800 kg of metal and plastic because Julia and Magda said to do so.

I remain a committed cyclist and road user and most importantly I like to think of myself as a human with family and friends- not a target for a raging road-warrior.

07 September, 2009

When I last checked in, I was painting the house. Guess what?......I'm still painting. I am getting some good early morning rides in as well- a little better than 50km each morning. And now that Dee is back from her global adventures, she has been making the early start with me as well.

Yesterday saw the end of our local road racing for the season and we ended it with a "for fun" team time trial. Teams of 3 or more with mixed grades (1x "A" or "B" grade plus 1x "C" grade plus at least 1x "D" grade). There were several social riders who came out as part of different teams to give racing a go in a non-competitive atmosphere. An added feature was that there were no bike computers allowed and no watches so nobody actually knew how they were doing. Oh and each team got to nominate the time they thought they would finish with. The team which finished closest to their nominated time won a bonus prize (a big bag of jelly snakes to share amongst the winners).

The snake winners were off of their nominated time by 20 seconds- not bad over 20km's.

Then yesterday afternoon was the closing barbecue and award presentations. Lots of fun for everyone and lots of thanks given to the volunteers who make the racing scene possible for the riders.

Okay- time to get back to the painting.

Cheers- ride safe

25 August, 2009

And about time too!!

I just looked at the date of my last post- over a week ago. Where does the time go?

I have to say that my range of movement in my neck has pretty much returned to normal and I'm thankful for that. Things have been progressing a bit more each day since Saturday and today was "pain free". At least as far as the neck goes......I've been helping a mate paint the house and it has been a few years since I have scrambled up and down ladders/scaffolding/trestles as often as I have over the last four days. Makes for an interesting start to the early morning ride.....I didn't think one's muscles could shrink that much overnight.

And I also know why people pay professional tradespeople (read painters) to do this work. There is a lot of prep work involved- scraping, sanding, filling cracks and holes, more sanding, base coat application, more sanding, first coat, second coat......

Last road race for the season coming up on Sunday- double points on offer. Hope I can keep the muscles stretched after the next four days of painting- and that the painting is mostly done when Dee gets home- I just might save a few niggly bits for her just so she doesn't feel left out.

Cheers-ride safe

17 August, 2009

It's a right pain in the neck...

Started last Wednesday as near as I can remember- in the morning- just before 4:30- which is when my alarm goes off- (on those mornings when I don't wake up before it). I sat up in bed and turned my head to the left- that's where the bedside table is- that being the resting place for my glasses each night. Well I suppose I should say I tried to turn my head to the left.

As I turned, there was a sharp pain and almost the sensation of hitting a limit switch after turning about 1/8 of the way, "Sorry- that's forbidden territory. If you choose to proceed any further it will be under threat of immediate infliction of more pain."

Maybe I slept in a strange position- didn't seem like it but then again what would I know?- I was asleep. I put up with it Wednesday and Thursday and Friday- made an appointment with the Doc for Monday. If it doesn't clear up by Monday, I want it looked at. Saturday- same, Sunday- same, Monday off to the Doc's. Poke, poke, prod, press.....nothing untoward so it was off to the X-Ray folks for a bit of photography just to make sure there were no lingering skeletal injuries from the car accident last month.

Looks like it's off to the physio now as there is nothing showing. The one thing I can say is that at least I can still ride- as long as I'm outside and only have to do my traffic checks to the right.

Cheers- Ride safe

15 August, 2009

She's t'ick, b'y, she's t'ick.

It's a funny sensation when we get fog here. Depth of winter- usually coolish mornings and fairly high humidity. It just doesn't seem the right combination from what I grew up with in Nova Scotia- just ask Dee or Bluenoser. And unlike the Canadian East Coast where the fog swirls in from seaward, this is land based fog. When you go down along the beach here, there's not so much as a wisp of that ethereal cloud.

The fog I grew up with reminds me of Carl Sandburg's poem


The fog comes
on little cat feet

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

And because it's land based fog, it doesn't have that salty tang when you encounter it. And it just sort of appears- no rolling bank of grey advancing. It's like somebody had a giant aerosol can and decided, "Yep. That looks like a good spot. Let's just do a little bit of water vapour graffiti across this field and over the road."

It's thick- after about 200 metres in the fog on Thursday morning, my glasses had so much water on them I may as well have been looking through that pebbled glass they put in bathroom windows. And it ends almost as abruptly as a slammed door. One moment you can't see 20 metres and the next it's clear as.....Makes me really glad I have good lights front and rear.

Race day tomorrow- should be interesting; the forecast is calling for fog.

Dee and Bluenoser- here's hoping your day on the 50k Loop is crystal clear.

Cheers- ride safe

10 August, 2009

Vertically compliant, laterally stiff......

Could be....probably is- but it's also really fun to ride. I took delivery of my new bike last week and have had three rides since- just getting accustomed to the feel. And I have to say that even though my last bike and this one share the same name and model, there are more differences than similarities.

The new Tarmac Pro looks beefier through the down tube and bottom bracket area. The close geometry is pretty much the same but there doesn't seem to be as much flex when you jump on it. When you decide to go, it goes and takes you along for the ride.

Last Thursday morning a few of us were out for a bit of a spin- a couple of the group were tapering for one of our big road races on Sunday and just wanted to take it easy. We rode our normal circuit and as we made the turn from Thuringowa Drive onto Ross River Road to head back to the city, we caught a glimpse of some tail lights in the distance- one of the other groups had made their turn already and, well, it was a bit like the matador's cape to the bull.....all of a sudden it was on- Jimmy (who was not racing on Sunday) decided we had to catch them and I would say they had a good 700 metres on us. When Tony and Adrian (who both did race on Sunday) jumped in, I thought it was too good to miss and gave it a shot.

I looked at my bike computer after about 1.5km and we were doing 52km/hr.... does this bike go? You wanna believe it, just wished I had more fuel in the tank.

Saturday's coffee ride was our usual 28-30 km/hr cruise and as I crested the one little hill on the way, I decided to see how the new wheels rolled.....40.5 on a smallish hill that usually won't get me much above 37 on the old Tarmac.

I'm a fair way off being race fit after being knocked off by the car last month but I just might give it a go on Sunday- to see what the new steed can do. If nothing else, it will be another excuse to ride.

Cheers- ride safe

01 August, 2009

Heute ist mein Geburtstag- Today is my Birthday

I'm celebrating my birthday with a whole bunch of Australians today. I don't know exactly how many and I would guess that in the majority of cases, they're probably not even aware of it. Today (1 August) is the date all racehorses in Australia have as their registered date of birth. As "Snobby", "BSNYC" or more formally, Bike Snob New York City might say, "Meh!"

Now, I don't know how the equine factor is celebrating their date de naissance (maybe they'll get an extra handful of oats in the feedbag tonight), but I'm sitting here with a glass or 8 of Australian chardonnay, watching a lovely North Queensland sunset, and looking forward to a bit of seafood chowder to finish off the day. "You can take the boy out of the Maritimes but you can't take the Maritimes out of the boy."

A gentle roll-out to the cafe this morning, a few chores around the house and yard, and a glass of the vintner's finest (well.........not exactly the finest but it will certainly do for me). Tomorrow is a race day but I'll just be fronting up to help out- no racing until I have the new bike. Later in the day will be a sunset cruise with some friends to celebrate (commiserate, inebriate, abdicate, illucidate, etc) Dee's and my collective 101st birthdays.

Cheers- ride safe

31 July, 2009

New Stablemate

It's all good. The new Tarmac Pro is on its way North as I type. Should be here and built up Monday or Tuesday for a fitting and then the inaugural ride.

I hadn't heard from my insurance firm since a fortnight ago when they advised I would hear from them within 10 business days. Monday was day 10 and when I left work I still hadn't had contact so was steeling myself for one of those intolerable sessions with a call centre voice recognition thingy.

When I got home I grabbed the mail and there was an envelope from the insurer- with a check, for the full amount less my excess (or deductible in Canada- at least the part of Canada we're from).

Right!! Off to the LBS and let's get this happening. And so it is. Mike, the owner of the shop, was pretty surprised that his quote had been accepted- said he usually gets pipped by bike shops in the major cities down south. And it got me thinking that I could have taken the money, gone on-line and bought the bike cheaper on eBay or at some nameless e-shop. Probably could have pocketed a fair chunk of change too. But that's not me- Mike does a lot for the cycling community here and he has down a lot for Dee and I when it comes to bikes.

So I'll let the boys at the LBS build it up and fit it to me and all of the other things that come with buying your bike from a person and not from a website- all of the minor adjustments that some of us less-than-mechanically-inclined cyclists have a tendency to turn into complete rebuilds.

And hopefully it will look like this.........

Cheers-ride safe

23 July, 2009

I'm Back.....well sort of...

Exactly a fortnight after my accident, I hit the road for the first time this morning. A good mate of mine loaned me a Ridley Damocles (thanks Tony) until I get my bike issue straightened out with the insurance people.

I was a bit unsure how I would go and I have to confess that for the first 5 or 6 km I was very leery of any vehicles coming from behind and approaching any intersections. I joined up with one of the regular twice-weekly rides down on the Strand and away we went. Again, I was a bit like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs- not wanting to get too close just in case something happened.

Another 10 km and I had settled in- the only issue was my level of comfort on the bike. Tony and I are pretty much of a size height-wise but our body structures are completely different. Tony is much longer through the torso and arms and has a long stem so I found the reach a bit much- going into the drops was never an option. I found the Ridley to be a bit heavier and stiffer than my bike- but then again it might just have been loss of fitness and the nerves of being on someone else's bike.

Back out for another ride in the morning. Who knows- I might even throw a hill or two into the mix.

Cheers- ride safe

19 July, 2009

tick, tock, tick, tock.....

I'm usually a very patient person. Sometimes it's a virtue- sometimes it's a fault.

In this instance, I'm unsure what it is. I'm still waiting for my insurance company to advise that they are settling my claim for my bike. "Yes", they said, "we have received your quote. We will obtain a quote from another dealer as well before we settle your claim. You should hear back from someone within 10 business days."

I understand how this works and all, but I really hope it doesn't drag on and on- and that I can get my replacement bike from my local dealer. I submitted a letter with my claim detailing the reasons why it would be better to deal with my LBS instead of a dealer in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

Yes, one of the Specialized dealers in the major cities can probably come in with a quote of a lesser dollar value. But I think there's a lot more value in what I have lost than just a straight replacement bike in a box.

I don't want my bike to arrive at my front door in a box. It wasn't in a box when I was hit by the car. It was fully assembled and fitted to my physique (after several sessions). I don't have all of the necessary tools and torque wrenches and specs to assemble the bike and I certainly don't want to void the manufacturer's warranty.

Assembly, fitting and service will come at a price for a bike purchased somewhere else. Those are the sort things that, I hope, the insurance mob will take into consideration.

I just want to get back on my bike.................stay tuned.

Cheers- ride safe

09 July, 2009

It Had to Happen.....

Today was a blackmark day for me. Headed out at 5:00am for my usual circuit with a couple of small hills thrown in- then off to pick up with one of the regular Tuesday/Thursday groups.

This morning they decided to choose a different route due to some local road closures as there is a big motorsport event in town. Given that a large number of the group riders are unfamiliar with the new route, I decided to play it safe and head out on my own circuit with a couple of minor detours.

It was a lovely morning for a ride- about 20C and just a slight breeeze. The moon was still up and cast good light when it emerged from behind the clouds. I had done about 30 km and was only three km from home and I'm cruising along nicely- there's a "T" intersection to my left with a "Give Way" sign for drivers approaching the intersection. I'm about 1/3 through the intersection when a vehicle approaches and the driver takes a cursory glance to the left and then without a touch of the brakes, drives straight into me. I had yelled a warning and tried to evade the impending crash by swinging to my right and halfway into the adjoining lane but it was too late.

People often say that things like this seem to happen in slow motion and this was the case. I saw the right-front headlight and grey bumper heading for and making impact with my left leg. I was then sliding along the bitumen on my left side while my bike flipped onto its right side and skittered ahead of me. Fortunately there was very little traffic on the road as I ended up in the second lane, almost in the median strip.

I managed to get myself off the road, give a once-over for broken bones and exchange details with the driver. I seem to have come out of it quite fortunately. A fair bit of road rash on the left side and back, a few bits of bark missing on my left leg and a left shoulder that is starting to stiffen as I type. It's off to the doc's for a full evaluation this afternoon.

I made my report to the police this morning and await follow up info from them.

As for the bike, it's at the LBS for an inspection/estimate. I know there is damage to the right shifter, saddle, my aero-bars (which I was not using this morning), rear derailleur and cabling. I will be replacing my helmet and my jersey and knicks. The frame will have a complete inspection and I have asked them to unwrap the bars and inspect them closely as well. I recently saw one of our club riders narrowly avoid a major crash when his handlebars failed in a race. He had an accident a week before but hadn't inspected the bars.

I'm sure the driver will be in for a bit of a shock when the estimate comes through. I'm hoping there is no debate with her coverage.

Cheers- ride safe- please.

05 July, 2009

B-b-b-b-b-buggah, it was cold!!

I didn't wait for my alarm to go off this morning- I had been awake since about 4:00 visualising what I had done with all of my cold weather gear. I thought I had gathered it all together before retiring last night but couldn't remember if I had my leg warmers (turns out I did).

So I got up at 4:15, turned on the laptop and fired up the internet to see just how chilly things were going to be on the race circuit this morning. The local airport was saying the temp was 10.5C- we're usually a couple of degrees cooler being further from the coast but I wanted to see what it was like at the top of the range.

The closest weather station at that altitude is Mingela- probably 50 km as the crow flies but pretty similar and the lucky number was 3.4C. So I put on my new dhb Merston full-length bib-knicks, a silk base shirt, a matching dhb long-sleeve winter jersey, a wool touque (or beanie for those in the Antipodes) and full finger gloves.

The temp at the start line for the TT up the range was a balmy 5.5. I went back to the car and pulled my armwarmers on under my jersey...I really dislike cold weather- I mean we're 19.5 degrees south of the equator- it shouldn't get that cold. It may have been a motivating factor for me as I think that was the fastest I've ever gone up Herveys Range- I really didn't want to be on the bike, in the cold, for any longer than was absolutely necessary.

This is a shot Dee got of me just as I hit the line at the top of the range.

Then it was off on the road race. There were only three of us in D grade this morning and we headed off about 15 minutes after completing the TT. The sun had made it above the trees and we were sitting at a balmy 4.5C- at least that's what our car told us. Yes- that says 4.5 with a little snowflake beside it just in case we weren't smart enough to come to the conclusion that 4.5 is not warm.

Good road race- I did manage to outsprint Damian from about 350 metres but I think on the combined times with the TT, he probably got me. Next weekend is a 40km TT and if the weather is this cold, it ain't gonna be fun!!!


29 June, 2009

A Sunday Ride with a Sprint

Yesterday was race day and we ended up having a very sociable Sunday ride with a sprint at the end- a race which sounds like the one described in Bluenoser's musings. Mind you it wasn't a 142km social- only about a 25km road race. We headed out at a relatively modest pace with one of the club's newer members on the front and he just didn't want to relinquish the lead- turns out he was wanting to better his TT time over 20km........... and the fact that he didn't really understand race tactics.

Anyway we had a few good laughs on the ride and then with about 5km to go, a few of us broke and decided to make a bit of a race of it anyway. Paul was first to go and then myself and a couple of others decided to go after him- we kind of figured he'd do himself as he went too early. We were right, about 1/3 of the way through the finishing circuit we caught him and then it was another bit of a dawdle around the back to "the hill". Not much of a hill but it can make or break your race.

It was quite funny because the last time we raced this circuit, Paul and I had done most of the work and then another bloke who only took the front a couple of times for about 500 metres on each time occasion ended up blitzing us on the finish. And so it was the three of us again heading up the hill but this time the hill really wasn't all that bad. Maybe it was the fact that we'd had an easy ride or that I have started doing some hill work again (as I have said before, I seriously dislike doing hills but.....) but it was almost enjoyable going up.

Anyay, Paul and I left the rest of them behind and headed for home with Paul falling victim to his earlier break away. With about 250 to go, he said he had nothing left so another one falls my way.

And thanks to Dee for driving the support vehicle. Our race scene cannot function without volunteers.

Next week is a TT up the range and then a scratch race from the top. If I have another good result, I'll be moving back up to C Grade.

And good luck to one of our club racers, Ruth Corsett, a member of the Jazz Apple team out of New Zealand. She's on her way back to North America for some more racing in just over a week's time. It's always great to see Ruth back riding with her club- she's really an inspiration for all of the riders and offers lots of encouragement to our juniors.

Cheers- ride safe

20 June, 2009

Where did that fortnight go?

Can't believe it. It's been almost two weeks since I last blogged. Where does the time go?

It's like the last 280+ hours have been sucked into a vacuum and never existed.

I suspect work has had something to do with it....I'm an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in our asset and management works system. A system that was implemented more than two and a half years ago at great expense and with considerable disruption to many employees.

It was going to make the business more efficient, more robust...a shining beacon for all other corporations considering a similar strategy to hone in on and emulate.

And you know what? After 30 months, we've got people who may as well have been stuffed in a hessian sack and left on one of the outer-most islands of the Galapagos. Routine functionalities like opening a work order and adding details to close it off so maintenance records can be maintained have disappeared. Users enter the number, hit search and nothing happens...nada, rien, nichts, zip, zero, zilch. And nobody can explain why...our IT people are at a loss.

And here's the rub- I (and about two dozen of my colleagues) am being asked to resign my position with my current employer and accept a position with the IT group (a joint venture between my current employer and another utility company). I'm an end-user... and yet I have the IT people (and my direct supervisor) calling me and asking "what's wrong with the system?"

Is this really the work group/business I want to align myself with? Methinks not.

The cycling has been pretty good over the last couple of weeks. The cough from the respiratory infection lingers and seems to get worse in the low humidity- but I can still ride. The weather has been kind as well. Brilliantly blue skies and temps around 27C during the day- although when I'm heading off at 5:00am, it's a different story.

Last weekend, Dee and I did a century on Saturday in absolutely stunning conditions, and then on Sunday went off to help out at the local club's time trial. We manned the turnaround point at 10 km- and dragged a few obstacles off the road. Nobody wants to hit a dead kanagroo or wallaby while concentrating on keeping their cadence and breathing right on a 20km TT.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is a crit- will I ride? I may- but probably D grade. And it will help me think of something other than work. If I don't- well, they always need volunteers.

Cheers- ride safe

08 June, 2009


I have survived the weekend- 4 races in three days with this morning's 40 km road race being the worst (read most difficult) of the lot. It was a handicap race and we were 2 minutes off "Go". There were 4 of us and as we headed off down the road, I had a bad feeling- not ominous or foreboding- just not comfortable on the bike.

The wind was straight in our face, gusting to 35 or so and I managed to hang on for about 14 km but the respiratory infection of three weeks ago and subsequent lack of good training did me in. As it turned out, the winner was from the group ahead of us and the remainder of my grouping all picked up places (and money!!!) "D'oh!!"

Anyway it was all good fun and I did manage to lend a hand to some of my fellow cyclists. A couple of other blokes had managed to bridge to me after the turn and were looking for a break. I said I'd do what I could and gave them the better part of a km @ 40+ so they were able to refresh and go. They were effusive in their thanks when I crossed the line

While I didn't finish "stone motherless last" as my good mate Mr S Donaldson would say, I did finish by myself and in a world of hurt. Ahh racing is such fun. I can't wait for the Charters Towers to Townsville race in August- 125 km of the same road we raced today.

Training starts on Wednesday (I am taking tomorrow as a day off the bike) and if I can stay healthy, I'm going to give it a shot....

Cheers- Ride safe

p.s. Totals for the year:

June 209 km
 2009 4284 km

30 May, 2009

Back on the bike

I've been a bit slack posting lately. Seems my last one was almost a fortnight ago when I was home from work with a respiratory infection. Well after 10 days of antibiotics and severals days off work, I've eased myself back into a training regime. Probably too late though- the North Queensland Road Titles take place on the weekend of 6,7, 8 of June.

I have nominated for all 4 races: 20km time trial and crit on Saturday, a 60km road race on Sunday and then another 40km road race on Monday (Queen's Birthday holiday here). We'll see what happens after the TT on Saturday.

Tomorrow is a TT being put on by our local cycling club and it is going up one of our local hills (Castle Hill). I dislike hills at the best of times and have been able to use my recent illness as the "perfect" excuse for not doing tomorrow's TT. That and the fact that I have already said I would assist in the marshalling for the race.......like so many other clubs, our volunteer support base is pretty small and in order to keep the races going it often falls to the same people time after time.

Cheers, ride safe

13 May, 2009

I haven't been this sick since....yesterday!!

Jeez I hate being sick. For three days now I have been stuck at home- caught between moments of sweating discomfort and chills so bad that I run for the polar fleece jacket. Throw in the added bonus of a respiratory infection and a cough that sounds like a bull elephant seal- well, I don't know why everyone wouldn't want this. Oh yeah and everytime I cough, it feels like my head is going to explode.

It was off to the doc's yesterday for a checkover. "Yes you have a respiratory infection- here's a prescription for some antibiotics. Email me on Thursday if you don't feel better and we'll send you for x-rays and some swabs. Oh yeah- the swabs are the ones where they stick the collector down through your nasal passage- just so you're aware."

I was hoping that my body would react to the prospect of an NICD (that would be Nasally Introduced Collection Device) by throwing off whatever it is with the same speed at which it took it on. Dee and I did a 20 km time trial on Sunday and I felt pretty good. A little tickle in my throat a couple of times but I put that down to perhaps an inhaled bug or not getting enough fluid into me on the ride.

Monday morning and I am in serious discomfort- I was going to call in sick but couldn't get more than a couple of words out without breaking into a coughing fit so I texted my supervisor to let him know I wouldn't be in. And according to the doc I'm not to go back for the rest of the week- that also extends to cycling.

The upside is that I have been able to get in some reading and catch up on a few of my favourite blogs. And Dee has been taking very good care of me- lots of cups of tea with lemon and honey and Fisherman's Friend throat lozenges to try and keep the cough at bay.

Time to grab the fleece again- it's 26C and I'm shivering like it's just about to snow.


04 May, 2009

Twice in one day

Yes that's right- I have cycled twice today and now I'm blogging for the second time.

A couple of weeks ago we went on our first camping excursion with our new VW camper. I had meant to write about it sooner but with the demise of one of our dogs and a general feeling of malaise, I just didn't feel like blogging.

On Good Friday we headed north to Mission Beach in the Wet Tropics region of North Queensland for an overnighter with some of our cycling mates. It was also the inaugural camping expedition with our VW Caddy Life Camper.

Now we have had a couple of VW campers previously. One in Australia in 1991 was a 1973 VW Kombi with a pop-top and gas cooker and 3-way fridge. The other was a factory outfitted Wesphalia purchased in Germany by a member of the Canadian Armed Forces while stationed there. We bought it in 1993 and it looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor.

Jump ahead a few years and the new generation of camper appears.

It comes with a bed, table and chairs, more storage than you can poke a stick at and a tent which attaches to the rear hatch. I did a dry-run of erecting the tent in the driveway a couple of weeks before we left and by the time I finished, I was in such a lather of sweat I was just about ready to give it away.

We got to Mission Beach, found our campsite and proceeded to make camp and voila....

Well except that the guy ropes haven't been pegged in yet but you get the idea. The bed was quite firm (we'll be getting a foam overlay) and the air circulation was good (while it wasn't raining and the sun/moon roof was open. We'll be getting a 12V fan.) It is great to drive and has a tonne of potential.

I'm sure after a few trips we'll have it all ironed out



The Land of the Long Weekend

It's Monday and Dee and I have just come home from a nice little 50+ km ride. It's Labour Day in Queensland and since we have the day off, what better way to spend it than on the bike.

We did our regular coffee circuit and then threw in an extra bit out to one of our beachside suburbs. It was great going out with a 25-30 km wind at our backs but the journey back was a bit of a slog. Minimal traffic and those motorists who were out were all patient and relaxed- everyday should be like that.

Other than that, just another wonderful day in Paradise. 

14:55 04 May 09- 
In fact it was such a great day we headed out again just around noon for another spin- this time out to Ross River Dam- another of our favourite circuits where we follow basically follow the Ross River upstream to the dam and then return via some rural housing estates where most properties are on blocks of 2+ acres giving us a total of 102.3km for the day. 

Dee has some pics on her blog although I'm afraid we missed getting a shot of the kangaroo in the road as we were in the country estate.

Pretty good start to the week- should be looking at 300+ by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around.

And it's not every day we get to do a century so excuse us while we have a celebratory glass of bubbles.


Ride safe

20 April, 2009

A good mate is sick

I drove a support vehicle for the local cycling club on Sunday. It was a 120km road race from Townsville to Charters Towers with just under 50 riders. I ended up doing the support alone as Dee was taking one of our dogs to the Vets. Stanley is one of two dogs in the house- a fox terrier, and an absolute charmer.

Always quick to greet us at the end of a day- no matter how rotten work may have been- he makes us forget all of the bad things we may have had to endure. His only request, "throw the ball for me. Endlessly, if you don't mind." Oh, and his very vocal demands to be fed just as we're trying to prepare our evening meal.

Early yesterday morning he was very uncomfortable and making a lot of groaning sounds. Dee decided to stay home and keep an eye on him. His condition quickly deteriorated and Dee rang a good friend to take her and Stanley to the Vet.

The early prognosis was not good- his liver had failed and he was in considerable pain. Dee left him with the vet and came home to await the news. Last night was a wretched time- both of us absolutely miserable with grief. This morning we were at the vets as soon as they opened for what could well be a last visit with our mate. He was quite bright-eyed and very happy to see us and even though he was on a drip with pain killing medication, we could still see he was in discomfort although certainly not as pronounced as yesterday.

Around 10:30 this morning the senior vet called- they had received the results of further blood tests. There was definitely indication of damage to the liver but whether it was infection, injury or tumour could not be determined. We have agreed to a soft tissue ultrasound to see if a determination of the damage (extent and type) can be made.

The vet advised that the liver has a large capacity for regeneration so we're hoping that it's the lesser of the evils. If not, we will not prolong his suffering but we live in hope.

I hope I have better news to write of next time.

Update 20/04/09 17:00

The news from the vet was unfortunately very bad. Stanley had multiple tumours in his liver and severe thickening of the stomach wall which was indicative of the location of the primary tumour. At 4:45pm today, Stanley passed away peacefully with Dee and I at his side.

Good-bye Mate. I hope you get to chase tennis balls forever.

Cheers- ride safe

05 April, 2009


I didn't make it to the race this morning. After being off work sick on Thursday and Friday and then helping our son get settled into his new digs yesterday and then a bit of a dinner with some of our cycling friends- I just didn't have it in me. I do feel considerably better than last week but Dee reckoned I still sounded pretty bad. At least the sneezing and phlegmy feeling-head have stopped. 

I was awake in plenty of time but that would be mainly because I only slept about 2 hours all night. I made an error in judgement when I accepted the offer of a coffee from a friend yesterday afternoon. Don't get me wrong- I drink coffee, absolutely love a good cup- when I was working in the offshore, it would be nothing to have 10 or 12 cups per day.

Now my system says, "Yes you can have a coffee or two or three even. But don't try to have one after 1:00 in the afternoon- at least if you want to be able to sleep!!" So when the ristretto was offered at around 4:30, the alarm sounded but no one responded.

I even said to Viv, Al the Barrista's wife, " I probably shouldn't do this. I won't get to sleep." Truer words have not oft been spoken. I remember looking at my watch and seeing 01:30 and thinking "it doesn't look good for racing." Then I looked again at 04:00 and thought "enough is enough. I'll get up and let Dee have some peace and quiet instead of a caffeine-addled thrasher in the bed beside her."

It did allow me to have a good early start on the yard chores- lots of palm fronds and bloom stems (inflorescences if anyone really wants to know) carted away and chopped into the garden rubbish bag. Garden beds edged, weeds pulled, lawn mowed and watering of the garden is taking place as I write/blog.

Dee and I may be offline for a few days as we get our internet service straightened out. Our son had been providing the net service- sort of as rent. Now that we want to switch it back to our name, we have to wait until the current service (his) is disconnected before we can do anything.

"C'est la vie, c'est la guerre!"

Cheers- ride safe

02 April, 2009


Well I'm glad I got my flu shot last week- I'd hate to think how sick I'd have been without it. I know it's not fair to compare apples and oranges- I had a flu shot and I now have a lovely head cold. My nose alternates between feeling like it has been packed full of Crisco shortening and being the "source" for Nickolodeon slime. Those source moments are usually announced by a strong tickle at the back of my throat and nose and then a wonkin' great sneeze.

If I'm fortunate enough to get a kleenex in situ before the sneeze it's not so bad- if I don't and have to use my hand- well, you get the picture I think. This could seriously cramp my race plans for Sunday- or it really could work to my advantage. If I sneeze and hack a few times before the race as everyone is warming up, then I can jump to the front real quickly, nobody will dare get close to me for fear of a "spray".
Or they might jump from the start hoping to get clear so they don't have to ride in my slip"pery" stream as it were.

Oh and the results from last week's race were not as favourable as I had thought (and Dee concurred). I ended up with 11th but I'm still not certain just how that worked. Perhaps someone can explain this from a commissaire's point of view.  

We started the race with 15 riders. After about 7 laps I was dropped from the lead group but stayed ahead of the chasing group. The lead group did lap me on the second last lap but the chasing group must have been lapped as well because none of them overtook me from the point I was dropped.

Now, there were 6 riders in the lead group and 5 riders in the following group- two riders have withdrawn due to a mechanical failure of one bloke's handlebars and poor conditioning I think would best categorise the other- myself and another rider who I have lapped. I was never caught by the following group of 5 but yet I ended up finishing below 4 of them.  "HELP!!"

Anyway, such is the lot of the weekend racer.

Cheers, ride safe

29 March, 2009

"And all that Jazz"

Just waiting for the"official" results from today's crit to be posted. I decided to go back up to "C" after last week's initial race for the year. I was feeling pretty demoralized after getting dropped from the lead group today after about 20 minutes but stuck it out based on my philosophy of, "unless you have a mechanical or a stack- you're going to finish this race."

I continued on for the 25 minutes plus 3 in a "zone". No one passed me and I actually managed to lap another rider who really gives me the "yertz" during the week on group rides. I thnk I managed about 7th from 15. Sometimes revenge is the sweeter than any victory!!

Back in the yard again today- tackling the bougainvillea. I don't know how many times I managed to stick one of those bl**dy thorns in a _____________ (select appropriate body part- and keep it clean!) Finger, thumb, heel, arch, toe, arm......all felt the wrath of a shrub/tryffid being pruned into submission. It had the last say- as I was chopping the larger pieces down to fit in the wheelie bin, I stepped on a branch and drove a thorn into my heel (this is through a pair of "Crocs"- not barefoot as seems to be the norm here in North Queensland)

As they say, "It's all good!!" Next week is a 4 km TT and then a 40 km road race. Crikey- I hope it's handicap and not scratch.

Cheers- ride safe.......but please ride!!


28 March, 2009

Cycling/Gardening- what should I do?

Once upon a time, Dee and I used to be avid gardeners- especially since coming to the tropics where things grow all year round. It was a regular weekend to spend at least 8 hours doing chores- pruning, mulching, weeding, mowing- all the things to keep a garden healthy and growing.

Then we discovered cycling and became "gardeners who like to cycle". This continued while our cycling involvement increased and we became "cyclists with a garden". Lately however, we've been "cyclists" and the yard and gardens have suffered from a bit of neglect. The garden beds need edging and mulching, everything needs to be fertilised after the heavy monsoonal rains this year and the new round metal garden beds need to be filled with gardening mix and planted

Today we set out to make amends. We spent about 4 hours pruning (I'm sure I could hear winces of pain as I lopped great juicy ginger plants and brunfelsia, allamanda and phyllodendron and a few hibiscus too). Tomorrow I tackle the bougainvillea- they are very showy but the thorns must be dipped in curare or something 'cause when you stick one in your hand, it hurts like hell- worse than any thorn from a rose. Add to that the fact that I have to work from a ladder to trim them and you can see another element of challenge.

But the bougainvilleas will have to wait until after tomorrow's crit. I'm going to race.........

Cheers- ride safe

22 March, 2009

"C" Grade next week

I had a successful return to racing today, albeit in "D" Grade. Having been unable to train for the last few weeks until the Dr gave me the go-ahead on Monday, I just wanted to get one race under my wheels for the season before going back into "C" Grade. It was a 20km road race along one of my favourite stretches of road- nice rollers and beautiful bushland.

The group was quite small- I think we started with 6 riders (C Grade had 20 I think)- and for the 2nd half there were 4 of us. There was one fairly young bloke who really didn't want a turn at the front until the last 600 metres. The other three had done our fair share of the work and I had taken the last stint on the front pulling the group up the last hill when he decided it was time to hit out and head for home.

I just managed to catch his wheel and then it was on- the two Pauls got dropped and with about 60 metres remaining, I managed to edge ahead of him- taking the line by about 3 metres. I felt quite strong but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me when I move back up to "C".

Dee didn't race today as she drove one of the race support vehicles- we always need volunteers and especially when it's a road race- and her assistance was greatly appreciated. She did manage to get in a good 30+ km ride down the Range. Hopefully she'll give the crit a go next week.

And it's good to see one of my fav bloggers back online- good on ya Bluenoser!!

Cheers- ride safe

16 March, 2009

Good day, Bad day

After much song and dance and playing the game that is "Modern Day Health Care", my Dr has given me the go-ahead to resume racing. While he was unable to explain the recent issues with blood pressure and erratic pulse, I've been advised that the test results and the readings from the 24 hour BP monitor put any concerns about my physical well-being to rest.

Although I've never felt intimidated by my GP, apparently I have classic "white coat syndrome". That doesn't really explain the high BP I experienced while not sitting in his practice though.

On the other side of the coin, of my favourite bloggers, Bluenoser, has submitted his "Last Post" today. Always entertaining, often thought provoking, and written with a keen wit, Bluenoser has kept me linked to my Nova Scotian roots of late- even from the other side of the globe. and "Yes B, when I'm next in Nova Scotia, I'll be looking you up for a ride around 'The Loop'."

Cheers- ride safe

14 March, 2009

I just want to race!!!

Ok- I've now had three appointments with my doctor cancelled in the last couple of weeks. I want to get to the bottom of this blood pressure issue and quickly. Two weeks ago it was- "we've sent the blood pressure cuff to Sydney to see if they can get the readings. We can't."

Last week it was, "we still don't have the data from the BP cuff." In the interim I had been keeping a diary of BP readings thanks to a good mate who loaned me a digital BP monitor. I even spoke with my GP on Sunday and advised him of what I had been doing (just in case they couldn't rescue the data) and was advised that what I was doing would be great.

Tuesday afternoon the phone rings and it's the doc's office saying they are cancelling my appointment for Wednesday because they don't have the BP readings. Not sure if you can sense my frustration but believe me, I'm nearing boiling point. They ring back again- "Can you go to the "Interventional Cardilogist, Dr. %^&^%&" to get a BP cuff fitted?"

As they say back in Cape Breton and Newfoundland."Jesus, Mary and Joseph!!" I grow weary of this but in an effort to get my health back and get back to racing- I wore the cuff for another 24 hours. Next episode is scheduled for filming on  Monday morning at the GP's clinic.

Oh yeah- tomorrow is the first official crit of the season on a new circuit of freshly built road. Well I can't race but I can go and gladly be soigneur for Dee.  

And on a very sad note, I read that 16 people are missing and presumed dead in a helicopter crash off the east coast of Newfoundland. They were on their way to a couple of the oil platforms in the North Atlantic when the chopper went down. One survivor pulled from the water and one body recovered. Having worked in the oil and gas exploration industry off Nova Scotia's east coast in the '80s and experienced the cold waters of the North Atlantic in the winter, my heart aches for the lives lost. 

As Bluenoser can attest- the Sea is a harsh mistress. It was 27 years ago in February (15th to be exact) when 84 people died when the Ocean Ranger went down off Newfoundland. We experienced the same storm as it passed Sable Island and our radio operators heard the drama unfold as the Ocean Ranger and all on board perished.

I later worked with a brother of one of the lost. He had a fairly reckless philosophy on life. "My brother worked all his life on the rigs and saved his money. Look where it got him- fish food on the bottom of the Atlantic. I'm leavin' nothin' behind me but empty beer cans."

Cheers- ride safe (life is fragile)

07 March, 2009

Here's hoping....

The weather in our neck of the woods right now is a bit perplexing (for some), frightening (for others) and awesome (for everyone).

There is a tropical cyclone- Hamish is the name for any and all interested- which is currently making its way down the east coast of Queensland at about 15 km/hr. Hamish was named late Thursday night and spent most of yesterday in a quiet developmental phase and has emerged today as a petulant adolescent- building into an impressive weather system. Today he has just about reached maturity I think and is a category 4 (out of possible 5) storm.

Cyclone warnings and watches had been issued for Townsville from late yesterday and we had been making preparations for  the worst. We have been spared to this point and it looks as if we will miss the worst of the storm with the exception of a few showers today. I suspect others along the coast to our south may not be so fortunate. Hamish is packing wind gusts of up to 260km/hr near the centre of the storm. This is "Cyclone Larry" or "Hurricane Katrina" type intensity. 

Radar image of Hamish @ 5:00pm

Satellite image of Hamish @ 5:00pm (Both images courtesy of weatherzone.com.au and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology)

In light of the possibility of the cyclone coming to land near us, the local cycling club has cancelled the time trial up the Paluma Range which was scheduled to take place tomorrow, until the Easter weekend. 

Just as well for me. I still haven't been given the "all clear" from the doc to return to racing. Plus I don't like hills to begin with; so an excuse to get out of a 20km uphill TT is fine by me. I've been wearing one of these little puppies and keeping a diary of readings- given that the one from the doc's office crapped out and lost all of the readings from a 24 hour period.

Another appointment Wednesday- here's hoping the issue can be identified and remedial measures put in place.

It seems a bit eerie sitting here with this massive force of nature churning offshore and yet there isn't a breath of wind through our yard. As I look out from the front deck, I can see a few palm fronds gently rippling in a light zephyr. Hardly indicative of what's happening out there.

One of our cycling group has just sent a text- there's a ride on in the morning- "weather permitting."

Cheers- ride safe
 Oh yeah- the numbers from February

13 rides (which is more than I thought given the weather)
Km for Feb:  415.6
Total for 2009: 1570.3

28 February, 2009

Here's hoping........

Well the news from the doctor wasn't good- but it wasn't bad either (at least not yet). My BP is still elevated and my pulse is still eratic but it wasn't any worse than last week. All of the blood tests came out fine and the x-rays were inconclusive- a slightly enlarged heart (very minimal) but easily attributed to the extra work the organ has done with the high BP- according to the doc. The readings from the BP cuff that I wore last week have not been downloaded as there is an interface issue with the device and it has been sent to Sydney (that's Sydney, Australia- Bluenoser, not Sydney, Cape Breton- although I'm beginning to wonder) to retrieve the data.

I decided to wear my HRM during the week as a matter of curiosity. Well!! That was an exercise in frustration and confusion. My pulse would be sitting on 75bpm (which is still quite high) and the just jump to 105 for no reason. I even left the office environment and worked from home and the same thing happened several times during the day.

I am feeling better today than I have for some time but I will have to wait and see what happens this coming week. A trip to the cardiologist may be in order along with tests for adrenal gland activity and renal artery blockage- it all sounds like so much "fun"..........NOT.

Tomorrow is the first race on the local scene for the year and I'm not riding- but Dee is; her first comp is going to be a 10k TT. "Go for it!!", I say.

Cheers- ride safe

21 February, 2009

Must be Something in the Air...

Well it hasn't been a very good week on the bike. I have been feeling a bit out of sorts for a couple of weeks and made an appointment to see my doctor on Monday. By the time I got to his office, my blood pressure was almost 170/88 and my pulse was 91. Dr C had a look of incredulity as he looked at the BP reading- seems to me the last time it was about 128/72 or thereabouts. It had been more than an hour since I had left work so shouldn't have been suffering too much stress.

We talked about the situation, was I still cycling the same amount and with the same intensity? "Yes" and "yes- except I was having difficulty garnering enthusiasm for my morning rides." And that continued as I didn't ride Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Took another BP- the systolic had dropped to 165 but the diastolic had climbed to 91 and my heart was still racing at around 90. The Doc ordered a series of blood tests and x-rays so I spent most of Tuesday either being stabbed with needles or being bombarded by x-rays while posing in a contorted position that felt more like something that may have been used on the house guests at Abu Ghraib. 

I also got to wear an automatic blood pressure cuff for 24 hours. Every half hour during the day and every hour at night, the little pump fills the cuff with air and records the info for later download/analysis- or so the theory goes. This one had a bit of an issue in that the internal  clock appeared to have been set incorrectly and so the cycle was reversed. Every half hour all night, the pump would kick in and inflate the cuff to the point where I thought I had a tourniquet on my arm. Then it would ease off and deflate leaving me (and Dee) to try and get back to sleep before the next instance came around.

I don't think we were asleep for many from about 2:00am onward.

On a positive note, the Doc did say I could keep cycling, but there is to be no sprinting or hillwork allowed- just an easy pace. The hillwork I don't mind giving away, but it was really, really, reeeeaaaalllly hard watching most of our Saturday morning ride take off on our weekly little sprint to the Casino as I calmly kept to my 28km/hr.

My results are expected this week. 

Cheers- ride safe

12 February, 2009

Day- oh, day-ay-ay oh!

"Hey Mister Tally man, tally me bananas!"

Well the rain finally cleared overnight and I was able to get in another ride this morning-albeit with a flat to start out. Great thing having a spare wheelset- just slap on the appropriate wheel and head out the gate. I was a few minutes late getting to our meeting spot but made up the split pretty quickly. And I have to say I was pretty happy with the ride given that it's been the better part of a fortnight since I've been on the roadie.

"So!" I hear you ask, "What has this post got to do with bananas?" Well I had to harvest two stalks of bananas today after work. I have been keeping an eye on them for the last couple of weeks- with all of the rain, they have been filling out well but just didn't look quite ready. Yesterday it was raining too hard (65 or 70mm in 45 minutes) to venture into the backyard to check their status so it waited until today.

And there were the telltale signs that the fruit was ready-a slight yellow blush on a couple of bananas and a couple of others with the ends chewed off. The fruit bats (flying foxes) can always sniff out a ripening banana long before I can. The stalks are now hanging under the house-ripening naturally and away from the bats. Should be no potassium shortages in Dee's or my diets for the next couple of weeks.

ride safe


08 February, 2009

Sobering thoughts

It's early Sunday morning as I type and the news from either end of the country is less than comforting. In Victoria, bushfires are raging and at least 14 people have been confirmed dead. There are fears the number may climb as high as 40. With strong winds and temperatures over 45C, there's not a lot the fire service can do. 

Here in North Queensland, the monsoonal rains and floods also continue with falls of over 100mm recorded in many locations since yesterday. The town of Ingham, which has been enduring severe flooding for the past week, may get a bit of a reprieve today as the monsoonal trough moves south and carries the worst of the rain with it. We are located about 110km south of Ingham and will likely receive some further heavy falls.

As an added bonus, today and Monday we will have our highest tides of the year with the prediction of an additional .5 of a metre in height. With all of the flooding that's taking place, this could seriously impact a lot of people all along the coast here in the North. And it's not just people and property being impacted- infrastructure has been washed away or seriously weakened and local fauna and livestock are in danger as well.

Dee and I are going to jump on the MTB's and head down to the river for a look in just a bit. I'll try and get some pics.

Dee has put up some pics on her blog.

Cheers- ride safe

03 February, 2009

Ok- who stole the bilge pump?

Crikey!! (as Steve Irwin would have said) enough with the rain already. I know we live in the tropics and there are associated risks with it but "Holy cow!" I'm getting really tired of the rain this week(Last week, week before, etc). It just doesn't want to stop.

We just took a walk down along the river to the weir to watch the river flowing as a result of the torrential rains we've had. The water is coming over at about 1.5 meters high- "Wall-to-wall and tree-top tall" as we used to say once upon a time.  But that pales in comparison to the Burdekin River to our west near Charters Towers. As I write, the river is currently flowing at 6.75 metres above the bridge- a total river height of 20.25 metres.

And as one would expect, this has had a definite detrimental effect on our cycling regime. Short of wearing scuba gear and putting solid tyres on to deal with the potholes, the options for cycling at the moment are pretty much restricted to "the trainer." The numbers for the week are pretty easy to remember- all zeroes.

"This too will pass" and we'll be back on the roads before you know it. Oh yeah- I have to catch a plane at 6:30 tomorrow morning and the Bureau of Meteorology is warning of the possibility of another cyclone at the end of the week. Looks like zeroes for a solid week.

Cheers- ride safe (and dry)

01 February, 2009

Batten down the hatches

I got up at 4:30 this morning- hoping that when I looked at the radar, the heavy downpour we were having was going to be short-lived and I could head out for a spin. The weather news is "not hopeful"- a cyclone has formed to the northeast of us and is expected to cross the coast about 120 km north of here tomorrow morning. Winds are forecast to increase this afternoon (they've already been gusting to 45) and possibly reach 100 km/hr and there will most likely be flooding rains for those of us on the south side of the system.

Given the amount of rain we have already had this wet season, the ground is fairly well saturated and when the winds do start to pick up, we can expect to see a number of trees fall. There is also a lot of road damage (washouts and potholes) around the city which we probably won't see fixed up for some time. It's a good thing we don't have frost and snow like we did in Canada- I don't know how the roads would ever survive. 

It's starting to get light out and the rain has eased a bit so I better grab some brekkie and a coffee and get ready to a check around the yard for any potential missiles.

The Numbers:
The Week:186.1

Cheers- ride safe

26 January, 2009

The Tour Downunder

Well the TDU 2009 has come and gone and Aussie cyclist Allan Davis has claimed the victor's mantle for this year. Davis and his Quick Step team held off fellow Aussie Stu O'Grady for a 25 second victory in the 11th TDU.

I guess it might be a bit of vindication for Davis who was implicated in Operation Puerto a few years back but subsequently cleared of any involvement. A bit of the mud stuck and he had difficulties in finding team to ride with. Quick Step gave him an opportunity and he has rewarded them with the first pro tour victory of the year.

Australia Day today- the plan had been to have a nice ride this morning followed by coffee on The Strand but yet again the rains came. They did ease off this afternoon so I thought I would do a few household tasks like mow the lawn. I don't think I was out there for 5 minutes when the ominous rumble of thunder heralded the approaching showers. Sure enough, down it came so I resigned myself to mowing later when the grass isn't quite so wet and won't clog up the mower.

Ok- it has eased off again but it's still too wet to mow so I'll wash the bikes. After our little ride in the downpour yesterday, there was a fair bit of road grime and sand on the bikes so I set up the bike stand on the front lawn, ran the bucket of wash water, got out the wash mitt and......it started to rain. Never mind- I usually end up soaked when I wash the bikes anyway so I finished them off. 

Here's hoping tomorrow morning doesn't start with the sound of rain on the roof and water in the downpipes.

Cheers- ride safe

24 January, 2009

This time it's just "Bad Weather"

Our annual ride to Charters Towers has been knocked on the head. The plan was for about a dozen of us to head out around 4:00am and make the 135km ride to Charters Towers where we would have a bit of a recovery and watch some of the Goldfield Ashes (the largest cricket carnival in the Southern hemisphere).

Some heavy monsoonal showers yesterday and the forecast for more of the same today meant an added risk that we just couldn't mitigate. Not that we can't ride in the rain- Dee and I just did a 40 km ride this morning and it rained so hard at times that there was a sting in the drops and visibility was almost like a "white out"- it just seems that some motorists think that the wet roads have this magic ability to give their cars an extra 50 horsepower and give them the driving skills of Michael Schumacher.  And this mornng was no different... as we waited for some more cyclists to show up at the LBS before heading out, we could hear the sound of a "hotted up" car spinning its wheels nearby in what was undoubtedly a show of the owner's great skills. It wasn't even 5:30am yet- what possesses someone to do this crap?

The Tour Downunder winds up today and it looks like Allan Davis of Quickstep will be the overall winner with a 25  second lead over Stu O'Grady. Last year's winner, Andre Greipel had been in contention until he collided with a parked police motorcycle during Stage 3. Looks like he's gone for three months.

Looks like the sun is trying to put in an appearance. Might have to dig out my spare shoes and go for another spin...

The Week 315.6 km
January 968.6
2009 968.6

Ride safe