31 December, 2010

And I Enjoyed Every One of Them....

The calendar has been taken down and a new one from Guide Dogs Queensland put up in its stead. The weather this morning was less than cooperative- so the early ride just didn't happen. We had pondered packing the bikes into the car and driving to a more rural location for a bit of a hit out but a check of the RACQ's (That would be the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) website showed that the roads were cut and not open to any traffic.

So we headed into the city and walked Castle Hill. With the temp around 29-30C and humidity at almost 80%, it made for a sauna-ish climb. We took the road as we have had a considerable amount of rain and we were uncertain as to the condition of the track. We even managed to score a bit of a cooling shower after reaching the top. It was nice to watch it rolling in from the coast and putting a soft grey diaphanous curtain between us and the city vista.

And so the end of the "Noughties" is upon us. A few glasses of bubbly, fresh homemade oatmeal brown bread, prawns sauteed in butter and simmered in a bit of cream with a green salad- why would I want to be out amongst the throngs in the rain watching fireworks?

Besides- we are intending to ride in the morning- gotta start the new decade off right.

The numbers for 2010:

Total Number of Rides: 233
Total Kilometres: 9475.9 (Yes, I enjoyed every one of them)

Happy New Year to all

Cheers- Ride Safe

25 December, 2010

A Christmas Ride

"Merry Christmas to all and to all, on your bikes!!"

Didn't manage to have our early morning ride today. When I got up at 4:30, there was an eerie stillness. The rain had bucketed down a couple of times overnight and the wind whipped up, but now, all was calm.

I fired up the Weatherzone website for a look at the local radar and it was apparent that this was "the calm before the storm." Cyclone Tasha formed about 250km north of us at 1:00am this morning and was making a spirited charge for he coast. Given our location on the southern side of this system, the result was some serious downpours. To steal and amend a phrase from Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi", "No ride for you!"

The bucketing continued in waves until just after 1:30 this afternoon. After a prolonged respite from the monsoonal downpour- about 3:00, Dee said, "It has stopped raining. Let's go for a ride to the dam."

Not having ridden yesterday, we were both a bit antsy and headed out. The ride out was pretty good- a bit more traffic than we anticipated- but you get that sometimes eh?

After making the turn and heading through the acreage blocks along the back way, I could see a shower approaching. See the bright yellow and orange "V" shaped band of rain? It smacked us dead on.

It certainly made for an interesting experience. I have ridden in rain, and I have ridden in windy conditions- but cycling through driving rain with wind gusts to 55+ km/hr was totally new. Wouldn't have missed it for the world.
There are still bands of rain coming in from the north which will result in some heavy showers overnight, but with a bit of luck we may just be able to get a ride in tomorrow morning.

Cheers- ride safe


22 December, 2010

Splashing Through the Flow....

We're on a bit of a weather watch as we head toward the Christmas holidays. As if it hasn't been wet enough for the past couple of months, the prediction ** now is for a low pressure system to approach the coast on the weekend with the possibility of up to 500mm (yes that's almost 20 inches) between Cardwell and Mackay. Guess where Townsville is?- If you said between Cardwell and Mackay, give yourself three "'Atta boy!"s and a pat on the back.
I have to say at this point I am thankful that this does not look like becoming a full blown cyclone as the Bureau of Meteorology says there should not be strong winds associated with the system- just rain.

**Prediction courtesy of  ABC News and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Usually our little social/cycling/coffee-swilling entourage rides on Christmas morning- it is absolutely the best day to be on the road. There is minimal traffic- motorised or otherwise and it is a wonderful feeling.

So- what do we do on Saturday? I am hoping the usual circuit will be on- although our regular cafe won't be open until Boxing Day. We may have to find somewhere else for our caffeine fix... Unless there is an absolute torrential downpour happening- I will ride. It might not be on my road bike- but I will ride.

So have a great Christmas- enjoy the festive season and the company of family and friends.

Cheers- ride safe

19 December, 2010

No, I don't think I'll ride this morning,,,,

And just as well- we had about 75mm of rain in a couple of hours and the roads were fairly awash- cut in many places and probably not the best place to be- on a bike- after all of the Saturday night Christmas parties....

We had our own little get together last night. I would say we had about 25 in total counting all the kids as well. A few pre-ride nibblies and ride-preparation hydration treatments "chez nous" as we awaited the arrival of dusk and then it was on the bikes and off into the night.

We started doing a bit of a tour of the Christmas lights in our and a couple of surrounding neighbourhoods last year and it was so much fun that we just had to do it again. And with the availability of battery powered LED Christmas lights, the challenge was on to see who could be the most visible for the ride.

Off we went, with lights blinking and flashing and dazzling- we even had our own Christmas carols (a CD of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney (although it said BC, FS and Nat King Cole) playing on an mp3 player with portable speakers. I think we covered just on 9 km and saw a pretty good assortment of displays- nothing like any of these though. Sit back and enjoy....

Drivers were beyond polite to us as we made our way through the streets and the homeowners were very pleased and, I think, even more so, surprised to have 25 cyclists rack up in front of their homes on a Saturday night to look at their lights. They expect a stream of vehicles in our car-centric society, but a bunch of cyclists is something completely different. And believe me, we were "something different".

Liz (above) did the ride in that Santa-esque bikini top as a dare- albeit with Dee's "Yellow Vest of Righteousness"  as a modicum of coverage.

After the ride, it was off to Macca's house where we had a post-ride feed of salads, various breads, a curry, a crockpot chicken dish and my red beans and rice- washed down with several varieties of bubbly, sauvignon-blancs, assorted beers and topped off with a cheesecake and chocolate cake. And there wasn't much left over either  =8^(

The planning has started for next year.......

Cheers- ride safe

09 December, 2010

Mobile Posting

Okay- first go round posting remotely via the BlackBerry. Had a pretty good ride this morning and the weather was a little more comfortable as well. The temp was about 25C when I headed out and the humidity had eased back to around 70%. Just over 53km on the day with a max speed of just over 52km\hour and an average of just under 30- we hit almost every red light possible I think.
I can't seem to find how to insert my pictures via the B'Berry so I think I might have to edit this from the laptop at home.

Okay I had to succumb and upload the photos to the laptop- I'll figure it out yet.....

Cheers- ride safe

The former Queen's Hotel on The Strand. Not sure what it's used for now- it was a television station up until a few years ago.

The Anzac Memorial Fountain and Park

Looking back over Wickham Terrace toward Flinders Street

Old Customs House on The Strand

07 December, 2010

Try again tomorrow.....

I have been set a task......not a Herculean task, but a task nonetheless. One which I have never undertaken before. I am to take a photo on a morning ride and blog about said photo from the cafe- on my mobile telecommunication device- a.k.a. Blackberry. So I decided I better find out just what the optics are like- no sense taking a picture of a bee sipping nectar if you can't even tell that there's a flower in the picture.

As proof, I submit Exhibit A. Close inspection will show that sitting on the leaf of a gardenia grandiflora is a lovely dragonfly with a reddish-gold spot on each of the upper wings. Yeah, I guess you're right- needs a bit more work. Stay tuned....

Cheers- ride safe

20 November, 2010

That's What Friends are For....

The weather held for our coffee ride this morning. The forecast had been somewhere between catastrophic and abysmal with predictions of heavy rain and possible flash flooding along the tropical coast. The sound of rain on the roof and gutters starting to run around 2:30 this morning had me thinking that the ride just might not happen.

When I got up at 4:30, the skies had cleared (I actually saw stars) and things looked promising. A quick check of the weather radar showed that the system had cleared the coast (albeit temporarily) and we were the hole in the doughnut as it were- clouds to the north, south and east but we were free and clear.

Off we went on our regular circuit- crossing the river to pick up some other members of the group and heading to our main gathering point. I was a bit surprised at the number who turned up given the weather and alternate rides scheduled for today.

We completed the main portion of the ride with a bit of a 10km blast out along the shore to Pallarenda and back and it felt good to have a bit of a "lung-buster". 38-40km/hr and getting up to 45km/hr in spots made for a good bit of a break.

On to coffee at Juliette's and we welcomed back the owner Gary who had been overseas for a few weeks- New York in particular where he participated in and completed the NYC Marathon. Dee and I did a bit of work (actually Dee did most of the work) before he came back to Australia and created a poster with pictures of Gary in various stages of the marathon, crossing the line and with his medal for completing the event. When I delivered the poster to the cafe on Thursday, some of his staff didn't even know that he had gone to NYC to take part in the marathon and were gobsmacked that their boss had completed a marathon.

Gary was effusive in his thanks and humbled that we would do something like this. But these are momentous occasions- often things from a "bucket list", and all too often we don't stop to celebrate or even appreciate the accomplishments of those around us.

That's what friends are for.......

Cheers- ride safe


14 November, 2010

29'er- and we're not talking bikes here either....

It's been twenty-nine years today for Dee and I and it doesn't seem like it's been nine, let alone twenty-nine. We had a quiet morning- no early ride. The rain overnight had only just ended and neither of us really felt the need to head out on wet roads and deal with the grit and toad guts that inevitably spray off your tyres and onto you and your bike and the person following your wheel......Yuck!!!

So we had a couple cups of coffee and read the online news, caught up on blogs and then I made some jalapeno/cheese/bacon cornbread for breakfast. Not a bad nosh and I can't believe there's still some left over for tomorrow.

The rain held off so it was out into the yard for some serious weeding and garden bed edging. The rain over the last week or so has left the ground very soft and just right for removing those deep-rooted weeds in the garden (and lawn). The backs of my legs are complaining that I don't do this often enough and were sending out little messages of "hurt" as I was bending over to tie my shoes this afternoon to head out and collect our mangoes.

Some good friends have a mango orchard just south of the city and had brought trays of mangoes in for a bunch of us who had expressed a desire for some of these lovely fruit. We had a mango tree in the backyard at one time but it ceased to produce much fruit and what fruit there was, formed toward the top of the tree and was pretty much inaccessible unless you are a flying fox so we had it removed a few years ago.

There are two varieties in the tray, Kensington Pride- also known as Bowen or Bowen Specials and the R2E2 which is a variety produced for the export market. They are "ginormous" as per the photo. The mango in my right hand is a Bowen and the other is the R2E2. It must weigh at least 1.5 kg. You will also note to my left is a collection of ripening pawpaw (or papaya for the North Americans) of varying sizes. The majority of these are from a tree in the backyard but the largest fruit immediately to my left is from our neighbour.

The mangoes still have a way to go before they will be ripe enough to eat but we just came across a new mango cheesecake recipe today....can't wait to try it.

So a few glasses of bubbly and a lovely meal of Thai fish (which we cycled out and purchased this afternoon- the fish that is) on turmeric rice made for a delicious close on the day. I look forward to the next 29/39/49.......

Cheers- ride safe


10 November, 2010

It's Alive!!!

I steeled myself for combat this morning. The rain had done enough to thwart me from heading out at the usual 5:00am so I settled back, had a cup of coffee, read all of my favourite cycling blogs and caught up on the news and waited for 8:00 to roll around. That's the magic hour at which the "Insert certain mobile telephone company name here" Billing Services area is available to handle enquiries.

I thought I was in with a chance being so early in the business day- I just might not have to spend an inordinate amount of time on hold listening to the same 8 songs on a repetitive cycle- oh and all of the inane interjections from Miss Bubbles on how they're working to answer my call as soon as possible.

Sorry- but like Maxwell Smart, it would seem that I "missed it by that much." Another hour plus on hold. I decided to look at their website to see if I could find another means of contact and there I noticed that South Australia and New South Wales were experiencing system issues.

As a result there would have been a greater number of users ringing to find out why they didn't have web access (or whatever) on their mobiles.

So I tried a different stream, to no avail and decided at that point to do some chores around the house- like install a new smoke detector- the old one had decided it didn't like being installed in our house- that it would much rather live at the rubbish tip. It voiced its displeasure at being stuck to the ceiling on a rather frequent basis. No amount of cleaning or fresh batteries would changes its disposition so we accommodated it and sent it on its merry way to the landfill.

Of course the new one has a smaller mounting base which resulted in the need for the electric drill, extension leads and in due course will see yours truly filling the hole in the ceiling from the previous mount and painting said patched area.

Anyhow, after this I called the Customer Service Centre again and almost suffered a myocardial infarction (that would be a heart attack) when I actually spoke with a real, living, breathing human in less than 60 seconds. After almost 4 hours in the last 2 days, I could hardly believe it.

Yes my phone had been connected and the SIM card had been activated- yesterday according to their records. "Have you turned the phone off and back on?"

I had done that so many times since last Thursday I thought I might wear the switch out but "No"- I had not touched the phone since yesterday when I tossed it back in its box and was waiting to ship it back other than to check it this morning when I got up and it still said "SIM not provisioned" and I put it back in the box. So I turned it off and then when I turned it back on, there was my little signal strength symbol beaming in the corner with the provider's network displaying on the screen.

And for all of the inconvenience, discomfort and waiting on hold, they have graciously cut my first month's payment by 50%- a total of $14.50.

Cheers- ride safe


09 November, 2010

Well now there's a few hours of my life I won't get back......

The mobile phone saga....will it ever end?

Good ride this morning- 54km with about 32km in the group at speed- headed out at 35-37km/hr and came back around 41-43. Pretty good effort and the group was pretty well behaved from what I could see.

Coffee and the ride home- a shower and a bit of breakfast and then it was time to look at the monster in the room.........the Crackberry still said, "SIM not provisioned" despite all of the advice from Melbourne/Hobart/Mumbai/ wherever in the world the support for "Modaphone" is located that I would have service by this morning. "So", says I to myself and any of the geckos on the wall in the lounge room at the time, "time to ring and see what's happening in the world of mobile telecommunications." (Or at least BoaB's world of telecomm.)

I had contacted the Customer Service Centre yesterday to try and explain the situation and advised that if I had not been connected by 8:00am this morning, I would be rescinding my contract on the grounds of failure by the provider to deliver the agreed product.

I spent almost 2.5 hours on hold and still did not speak with a human. In that time I could have cycled another 80 k or so and not been nearly so frustrated. As a matter of fact, it probably would have done me a world of good.

Looks like tomorrow may start off with a call to the telecommunications ombudsman....or at least after I get back from my ride. It's stressful enough doing this sort of crap, but I think it is much less stressful than if I didn't go for a ride.

Cheers- ride safe


07 November, 2010

Sunday Ride...

Headed out the door at 5:20 this morning for a group ride to Woodstock. Round trip (including into the city for coffee post-ride) should be about 90km. This was my first group ride, at speed and more than 35km, for probably 18 months.

The pace was reasonably steady heading out, a bit of surging from 30- 37km/hr but not too bad. Upon reaching Woodstock, a group immediately turned and headed for home while the remainder took a few minutes to refuel, rehydrate and I'm sure a few other re's.

The return leg is a bit of a free-for-all and given my absence from the pack scene and suspect endurance, I decided to turn and head back early- the only problem was I missed the first group which turned and could see them about 300 metres up the road as I swung around. So I had my own little individual sufferfest for about 20km of the return journey.

A group of about 7 or 8 caught up and overtook me after about 15km. Given that they were doing about 50km/hr when they went by, I didn't like my chances of hanging on so I just let the opportunity pass. Besides, I had been pushing a bigger gear than I probably should have for a bit too long and was feeling some discomfort around the hip. So I backed off a bit and spun for another 5 km until the next group caught up.

This time I was feeling considerably better and decided to have a crack at hanging on. I managed to hang with them all the way back into the city- even had a couple rolls through on the front and was holding pace at 44-46 km/hr. Must have been the muesli bar I ate on the way back in.

My much-deserved coffee was great and after an easy ride back home, I now feel ready for a nap......I may have to have a rest day tomorrow.

p.s. local rider Ruth Corset was last night named as Cycling Queensland's Cyclist of the Year for 2010.

p.p.s. Still no phone service (I know you're surprised)

Cheers- ride safe

06 November, 2010

Life in the Modern World....(sigh)....Phone Dramas Pt II

When last we looked, the author was speculating on what might befall him today as he tried to get his new mobile phone to connect with the network.

Arising at 4:30, he checked the phone only to confirm what he had been dreading- "SIM not provisioned". Turn it back off and leave it on the kitchen bench- definitely too early to go back to the store and deal with it so we went for our regular Saturday ride and coffee(s). And a beautiful morning it was too.....clear skies, light breezes, relatively light traffic and good company. The ride out to Pallarenda and back along the Strand was great- if my new phone was working, I would have taken a picture and posted it for you.

A couple of coffees and some friendly conversation with our cycling mates and it was time to head home and the answer is "No". If you had been playing Jeopardy with Alex Trebec, your response would be, "Alex, the question is, Is BoaB's new phone working?"

So, off I go to the dealer, which up until now I have not named. Let's just say the name is one word of three syllables, the first two rhyme with moda and the last rhymes with phone- actually it is phone but spelled in a different manner. The young sales assistant with whom I have been dealing looked somewhat crestfallen when I walked in. She was dealing with another customer but as soon as she saw me, she knew I wasn't there for a social visit.

One of the other employees came to assist me and started the enquiry process with their internal phone contact to the customer service/operations centre. After a few minutes of waiting on hold (it even happens within their own company) he asked if I wanted to wait in the food court area in the shopping mall. I advised I would just wait patiently at the counter- by the main service area, where other customers could see and perhaps vicariously experience my frustration- while he attempted to resolve my issue. And if anybody asked, I was going to be more than happy to share my experience with their service.

My best estimate would be 40 minutes. In that time, the young bloke assisting me didn't really accomplish much and ended up passing the phone back to the original sales assistant- let's call her Lauren- if for no other reason than that is her name.

Lauren speaks with someone somewhere who can't do anything to assist and may as well have been trying to get a request through NASA to get the Hubble telescope to take a picture of Uranus which is where I was considering asking them to put the phone. I could tell by the exasperated look that this was not going to be good news- funny that...

The "Incident" as it shall now be called, has been escalated yet again from Level 1 (which I think is a group of simians with keyboards) to Level 2- which I guess is a good thing- not the simian keyboardists but the fact it has been escalated to Level 2. Now I guessed that this was not necessarily a desirable outcome as I was advised that the Level 2 support group doesn't work weekends and my phone will definitely be connected by Monday (or Tuesday).

I don't think I said anything for a few moments, at which point I must have looked like I was going to set fire to the phone and the contract paperwork because Lauren asked, "Do you want to cancel your contract? Because if you do, I would understand but I am unable to do that. You need to contact our customer service centre and stay on hold until both batteries in your cordless phones are dead and you still haven't spoken to a real human." She didn't actually say the italicised thingy but gave me all of the information on what I needed to say to the robovoice to get in touch with the right people.

And I think what convinced her that I was serious was when I mentioned the telecommunications ombudsman and service levels for connections of service within reasonable timeframes upon entering into a contract.

So I came home and rang the number and said all of the right things to Robovoice who advised she was connecting me to the correct area only to find out that they work the same shift as the Level 2 group and nobody would be available to answer my questions until Monday morning.

Anyhow, tomorrow morning there is another nice 90km ride. Too bad I won't be able to take any pictures for you.

Cheers- ride safe


05 November, 2010

It wasn't so bad after all, nor was the next day....

The forecast from the last post looked pretty grim (that seems a bit strong- how about inclement?) and so it was with a bit of trepidation that I hauled my butt ot of bed on Thursday morning and fired up the laptop to see what weather was in store for the ride.

There were a few spicks and specks on the radar but nothing of any significance, so I got kitted up and headed out. I probably hadn't gone 300 metres when the first rain fell but it was thankfully short-lived. There must have been a fair number who made their decisions based on the downpour we were having on Wednesday night as numbers were well down.

Never mind- any ride is a good ride (well almost any ride).

Today (Friday) dawned clear and very cool and humid (remember we are talking the tropics here, so anything below 20C is cool). There had been a few light showers overnight but that had all cleared by the time I got up at 4:30. So a nice 30km ride into the city and a coffee before another 15km back home made for a great start to the day.

That's just about where the goodness of the day ended. Yesterday I signed up for a new mobile phone contract. Nice new BlackBerry (or as Bluenoser calls them- "Crackberry) Curve 9300 with lots of bells and whistles, web and email capability, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah......when I walked away from the dealer with my new phone, I was assured that my SIM card would be activated within a couple of hours.

"No worries", says I- "that will be fine." When I still did not have any access as of 7:00pm last night, I became, shall we say, concerned. Checked when I got up for this morning's ride- nada, rien, nichts, zilch, zip.... So I'm at the dealer's door at 9:00am when they open with a few queries, as it were. A check on the computer says the request to activate the SIM failed- "good work Sherlock!!" but no explanation why.

"We'll just resend this and it will all be good." I think most of you can probably write the rest of the script here. It is now 8:00pm and still nothing. I think tomorrow's chapter could be very interesting.....but whatever transpires, it will have to happen after tomorrow morning's ride...

Cheers- ride safe


03 November, 2010

Hmmmm- this looks like it could be damp...

Like the lyrics from Supertramp- "It's Raining Again", this snapshot of the local radar tells the story:

In the middle of the picture is a red dot- that dot is the radar location on Mt Stuart- about 8 km as the crow flies, due south of our place. This weather has been building in all day with just some light drizzle from late morning and then getting a little heavier as the day progressed. Judging from what is feeding in from the Coral Sea, we might have this overnight and well into tomorrow as well.

It might also have a bit of an impact on my ride tomorrow morning. As I have said before, I don't mind getting caught out in the rain but I have a hard time pushing myself out the gate into the rain...(See Rule V at Velominati). That's not to say I won't- I mean it's not like there's any risk of it turning to freezing rain or snow.

One of the other things that becomes noticeable as the seasonal rains arrive is the sudden appearance of the "hairy-backed, knuckle-dragging bogan". As soon as there is a bit of rain on the roads, out they come in great numbers, revving their engines and spinning their tyres on a road surface with considerably less grip than in dry times. I'm not sure if they are of the same species as the rest of humanity but they seem to use these displays of petrol-derived power as either a mating call (like frog in a drainpipe) or a challenge to others who might invade their turf (like a Maori performing a haka).

And they never completely disappear like other migratory animals. You can find signs of their presence all year round in the form of "Bogan Dust". Also known as broken glass, this is found in great amounts along the city's roads- with particular attention apparently given to the designated bike lanes and is found in the greatest amounts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Quelle surprise!!

Anyhow, I will make an attempt to get out there in the morning- rain or not.

Ride safe


02 November, 2010

The Race That Stops a Nation

It never ceases to amaze me- the first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup Day and while it is a holiday in Victoria, the whole of Australia comes to a halt for the running of "The Cup". There is a plethora of betting advice available from all and sundry- form guides and trainers' records, colours of the jockeys' silks, weather forecasts, track conditions, on and on it goes. And I guess that's all part of what makes this an event that everyone feels they're involved in.

Businesses hold lavish Cup lunches with prizes for best dressed and worst tie- funnily enough at our office, men never won the first and women never even got a look in for the second. Sweepstakes are run with all of the newspapers printing sweepstakes forms in today's editions. A good number of turf clubs around the nation will hold local meetings in conjunction with the cup with big screens displaying all of the action from Flemington.

I think this is our 16th cup and in true annual tradition, I trundled off to the TAB to place my annual bet. I think aside from the Melbourne Cup, I may have placed about 3 bets at the local track and my winning percentage from those is 0.0%, nada, zilch, nichts, rien.

The Cup has always been good to me. Of the 16 Cups, I have missed placing bets at the TAB on 2 occasions- once in 2002 when I could not get away from work to place my bet and the while I was in Canada in 2004. Turned out in '02 I won two office sweeps and a bet with one of the employees who decided to run his own little book on the day.

In the years in which I have placed a bet, it would probably be running at about 80% in my favour. And with that, I present my ticket for the 2010 Melbourne Cup:

A straight $5.00 on the nose for Americain. I think it pays out at 12:1- so my 5 bucks gets me $60. I will never get rich, but gee, I love the Melbourne Cup.

I have also included a new blog link to Ruth Corset's Olympic journey. Ruth is a local racer, mother of two great girls, Australia's 2009 Women's Road Racer of the Year, rider with Team Tibco, Commonwealth Games rider and amongst other accomplishments in the last 12 months, a podium finish in the Tour Feminin en Limousin 2010. Oh, and I forgot to mention she is coached by her husband Jason- what a great team!!!!!

Cheers- ride safe

31 October, 2010

Yes it does...

An update- since I have been a bit of a slacker on the blogging front- thanks for the prod Bluenoser

The day I finished up at work, I received a call from one of the managers in the section of the business responsible for the training of staff. Bear in mind that I worked in that section in 2006/07 delivering training in one of our specialised (not the bike brand) customer management applications and there are over 2500 employees with access/user permissions and new employees/users coming into the organisation on a regular basis. There has not been anyone filling that role permanently since I left.

The call was almost a plea- "Could I come back and deliver the training? We have nobody qualified- and the only people who have been doing any training will not be released by their business unit to train anyone else." Talk about "silo mentality".......

So how do we get around the restrictions that are in place for employees who take a redundancy? Normally you may not come back as an employee or a self-employed consultant/contractor for a period of up to two years. Easily done says the manager- "just come back through a labour-hire firm. Here is the contract manager's name and number- we'll call him and let him know you are coming in to register."

This was on Friday. On Monday morning as I am getting in the car to head to said firm to register, I get a call. It is the labour hire firm. "Ahh yes we had a call from Ms X that you might be coming in to see us. Is that still your intention?" "Yes- I am on my way. See you in ten minutes."

So I sat down and filled in forms and provided them with an hourly rate and daily rate for my services. They add their percentage on top and bill the company accordingly for hours worked and pay me directly. No invoicing required on my part- no dealing with Accounts Payable.

I set my rate at what I thought might be a bit high but after discussing it with some of my former fellow-employees, they said I should be pretty well on the mark. The company didn't even blink and have started the other necessary paperwork to bring me back in as a non-employee and to set up the training sessions. I would expect it will be a couple more weeks before training activity starts in earnest. Venues need to be booked, attendees confirmed, travel and accommodation arrangements made, etc....

I should add that in between registering and submitting my rates and getting notification that things were moving ahead, I had a call from another former manager who, like me, had taken a redundancy and is now working for an independent electrical contracting company as their new regional manager. He needs a work planner/scheduler/estimator- would I be interested? Paul and I had worked on a project together in 2006 and he was always straight and fair with everyone on the project. So I agreed to meet with him and his local manager the next day. 

The Readers' Digest version is that the job was mine if I wanted and they would match my previous salary. "Let me have a think about it." The end result is that I turned down that offer and have decided to go with the training delivery. In retrospect, I think some of the most satisfying time has been training and assisting people in their roles and that coloured my view heavily in making my decision.

In the meantime, I have lots of things to keep me busy around the house and lots of km's to put beneath the wheels of my bike.....

Cheers- ride safe

27 October, 2010

Does it get better????,,

A new beginning:

Almost a fortnight ago I accepted a redundancy and joined the ranks of the unemployed. I had grown jaded and disaffected in my role. Moving from secondment to secondment and seeing the focus of various business units moving away from our core business focus to new, enlightened "targets on the horizon for the next 10 years". Finally I decided I had had enough.....

After making the decision to part ways with the company with which I have spent the longest, continuous employment in my life- it was like the world had been lifted from Atlas' shoulders. It had been fully 18 months since I have had the fully restful sleep that I (and vicariously Dee and Rusty) have enjoyed for the past two weeks.

Morning rides have not been constrained by the requirement to be at my desk by 7:15 such that I can now complete a circuit, and have a "well-earned caffeine fix" with the other cyclists in town. Tuesday just-past, I even sat in on a group ride- something I have not done, aside from weekend social rides, in almost two years.

And I surprised myself. When you ride on your own for considerable periods, it becomes difficult to gauge your performance vis-a-vis other cyclists. So Tuesday I headed out with a group of about 30- took a couple of good pulls on the front and managed to hold pace at about 37 km/hr. Coffee afterwards was most enjoyable but we'll just have to see if I can back it up again on Thursday.

It also provides the opportunity for a ride at different times of the day. Monday was a ride to the dam at 10:30 in the morning- a chance to have a bit of a lung busting ride mid-morning. It was really enjoyable and a memory I'll not soon set aside.

So I'll keep riding early in the mornings and catching up on chores (Dee does have a list- of sorts) around the house and luxuriating in this brief interlude in employment. And you know what?? Painting really is a restful thing to do............

Cheers- ride safe


17 October, 2010

A weekend well spent....

Yesterday was a bit of a sufferfest on the bike....the heavy rain on Friday night cleared when a cold front went through just after midnight. How do I know when it went through, I hear you ask. Well, maybe that's not you asking, it's just crickets in the backyard.

The door to the TV room had been left open (and the windows) and I neglected to use the little hook and eye that keeps the door from slamming shut when the breeze picks up. So...........at about 12:30am, we were brought out of fairly deep sleep by the slamming of the door as the wind kicked around to the SSW at about 35km/hr.

And there it stayed for most of Saturday (or at least all of Saturday's ride) with a few gusts to around 55km. And although we cover most points of the compass on our ride, it seemed like we had a cross or headwind from about 320 of the 360 degrees available.

Oh and Dee probably made the right choice when she forewent (is that actually the past tense of forego?) yesterday's ride.

The rest of the day was spent in the yard edging garden beds and pulling out weeds (Owww!! my legs hurt from bending so much), cutting down the last of the bananas (of which there were none salvageable as the flying foxes has chewed through the protective bag on the stalk- D'oh!!!), harvesting more pawpaw, mowing the lawn, trying to keep the mint under control (and I'm talking culinary mint- not the one that makes coin) and  picking up palm fronds.

Today dawned clear and cool (if you consider 17C to be cool) and no wind!!!!! So instead of going for a ride, we headed north to Ingham and the Tyto wetlands for a morning of walking and bird-watching. This was followed by a lovely brunch and coffee at Passion for Pepper. I would love to provide a link but they don't have a website. Suffice to say, we're already planning to head back...soon!!

Cheers- ride safe

15 October, 2010

Clouds on the Horizon

It's a bit oppressive at the moment. The wind which has been lashing for most of today has suddenly dropped off and the sounds of insects in the yard is drowning out the rest of the neighbourhood sounds- only the noise from passing vehicles can be heard above the din.

Looking out the front door to the west, the sky is various shades of grey- from a pale foggy type grey to the ominous blue-grey slate of pending rain. A quick look at the weather radar and it doesn't look like there's anyway we can avoid a bit of a "shower"- I reckon 20 minutes at the most before it hits. "Recheck".... make that 20 seconds

I am hopeful that it clears by morning for the regular coffee ride. This morning was a washout- it bucketed down around 1:00am and then again at 4:30 just as I was getting ready to head out. I don't mind getting caught out in the rain but I have a bit of difficulty getting my butt in gear and on the bike when it's coming down and I'm still in the house.

Cheers- ride safe

30 August, 2010

Pasta Night

Any night can be "Pasta Night" but since I'm on leave this week and planning to get a few good early morning rides in (ones where I can actually go for a coffee instead of peeling off to get ready for work) I thought we should have a bit of pasta.

So I have churned out a batch of tagliatelle (it would have been fettuccine except I used eggs) with the assistance of Dee and in moments we will be cooking up some scallops, silver beet (Swiss chard in the other hemisphere), dill, garlic, basil and lemon which will be stirred through the fresh pasta (with a bit of parmesan and freshly ground black pepper from Silkwood which is a couple of hundred km's north of us). I can hardly wait- should be good for 80 km or so in the morning.

And we'll watch last night's stage of the Vuelta......

Bon appetit!!!

01 August, 2010

Another one bites the dust.....

Make it 52- like a  deck of cards, sans "jokers". I, and all of the thoroughbreds in Australia, celebrated our birthdays today. Just a quick clarification here as well, I do not consider myself a thoroughbred. Today is the first of August and all racehorses in Australia have the day listed as their birthday whether they were born on the fourth of September, the fourth of July or the Twelfth of Never.

To mark the day, we (that is the collective"we" of Dee and I) had a bit of a sleep in and then a nice roll to The Strand for a coffee at Juliette's . Back home and pancakes with maple syrup for brekkie. For some of us maple syrup and pancakes is a given, but here in Oz it seems to be a major culinary accoutrement.

This was the second foray for Dee on her new bike (well since actually owning it anyhow). Yesterday was less than ideal as far as comfort for Dee on the ride. She had taken the bike for a 50km test ride on Friday and decided it was very comfortable. Back to the LBS and some "fitting" adjustments (seat height, new stem, etc) and the bike was ready to go.

Ride on Saturday was less than ideal- shoulder pain, arm and wrist numbness........not good. Back to the bike shop and reinstalled the original stem. Today was much better but we'll give it a week to see.

Then this afternoon we headed off to the Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club for a bit of a get-together/birthday celebration. Lovely setting on the Townsville foreshore facing northerly to Magnetic Island with clear blue skies and a fresh sou'easter breeze. A jazz ensemble provided pleasurable pieces as a group of our cycling friends gathered to raise a glass or three to mine and Mark's (another of our cycling group) birthdays.

So tomorrow morning it is on the plane and off to Brisbane for the week for work- meetings, workshops and all associated activities. I will have to find something to do with that pent up energy when I wake up at 4:00am- my bike will be 1200km away.

Cheers- ride safe

10 July, 2010

Back in a Groove.....

The guys over at Velominati have a compendium of rules (and a very entertaining blog as well) by which road cyclists should live. The list now extends to 78 rules, but there a select few which stand out- those being rules 1, 5 and 10.

As I have been returning to a reasonable semblance of good health (I haven't had any respiratory issues since I relocated to a different building at work about three weeks ago), I have been able to resume an early morning regime with a bit of vigor. And it is here that I am noticing Rule 10 coming into effect-

It never gets easier, you just go faster. To put it another way, per Greg Henderson: “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”4

I haven't changed my regular circuits, but I'm finding that my completion times are dropping rapidly and my average speed is moving up. I have altered my route a bit this week with the V-8 Supercars in town and the associated road closures- but I'm completing the circuits about 6-8 minutes quicker than I was for most of the last year- same number of kilometres and "no it's not any easier"- but it sure is faster. And you know what?- I'm loving it .

And speaking of the V-8's, we're off to watch the big spectacle on Sunday with our son. Went out and bought earplugs today especially for the event- we're about 4km from the track and we can hear the backfiring/compression release from here. Sounds like the army conducting live firing of artillery...

Might just be able to squeeze in a ride in the morning before we head to the track......it will make it much more bearable I'm sure.

Cheers- ride safe

14 June, 2010

Thanks for the holiday 'Liz- How are you as a Striker?

Monday, 14 June Queen's Birthday Holiday

Thankfully I'm not an avid football (round ball, soccer) fan. The gnashing of teeth and wailing over the Socceroos' 4-nil loss to Germany would be just about enough to make you want to go for a ride and get away from any form of current media- so we did.

After sleeping in and not needing to arise for work (Queen's Birthday holiday- thank you Your Majesty) Dee baked bread, we had multiple cups of coffee and then we pottered in the yard tending to some rather neglected garden beds and shrubs.

A couple of checks on the online news showed that nothing else in the world had transpired other than the Australian soccer team was thrashed by Germany.

That's a bit unfair- we did manage to find out that Heinrich Haussler won a Stage of the Tour de Suisse and eventually tracked down that Jo Kiesanowski (NZL) of Team TIBCO had placed second in the GP in Gatineau Quebec behind Joelle Numainville (CAN).

Just after lunch we headed off to drop off a video and then a spin to the dam. Now I don't want to brag about how good the weather is because- oh never mind. It's "winter" here and at midday in brilliant blue skies it was 26C and about 55% humidity with light winds at 19km/hr. I think that would constitute a beautiful mid-summer day back in the old country.

Brilliant- absolutely brilliant. And after returning home we did a few more garden chores- planting roses, watering, etc and have now made fresh pasta. Just soul destroying I tell ya.........oh bother- my wine glass needs attention.

Cheers- ride safe

22 May, 2010

Sick and tired of being sick.........

One ride this week- out for the regular Saturday coffee ride this morning. This latest round of respiratory issues has kept me off the bike for most of the last fortnight and left me feeling pretty much like I'm back at "Square One".

More X-rays, more blood tests, more antibiotics- the end result is I don't have pneumonia or whooping cough and while I feel marginally better than I did last week, I'm a long way from declaring myself fit and healthy.

I'm beginning to think there may be something in my workplace contributing to my condition. In April of last year I relocated to a temporary/demountable office with about 40 desks/workspaces. My first bout of what seems to be the same thing (in retrospect) started about a week after the move.

I put it down to a cold/virus brought into the office by one of the other employees who has children in daycare and who doesn't think the business can continue to function in her absence- thus she comes to work and sneezes/coughs/phlegms (not sure if that is a verb but it will do in this instance) for all of us to enjoy.

I've had my flu shots (as I have done since 2003) and yet the bouts of this wretched thing come back almost like clockwork every two months. This latest bout has been the worst and has had me off work more in the last two weeks than at work. For most of the past fortnight, whenever I would try to have a conversation, I would be racked by coughing fits- then the feverish sweats and aches and general malaise. Makes it hard to carry out your job and doesn't really leave you feeling like getting up at 4:00am and heading out for a training ride.

Monday I'll be requesting a relocation to another office to see if it is something in the aircon/carpet which is bringing this on. I've never had allergies before but I'm (read my Doctor here) running out of options as to the cause and it's really starting to piss me off.

In the meantime, I'll watch the Giro and the ToC (good to see a couple of Aussies in the leader's jersey for both events) and maybe have another easy spin and coffee tomorrow.

Cheers- ride safe

16 May, 2010

One Night- Two Classics

Saturday night was one for the record books- well at least my personal record book.

Dee and I went to a live presentation of RockWiz with some good friends. For those uninitiated into the realm of RockWiz, allow me to give a quick precis- click on this link....... RockWiz. A fantastic night out with great friends listening to live music and a very entertaining quiz show/performance spectacle.

It was considerably later than usual when we got home- we usually fall into bed by about 9:00pm- and after listening to some great tunes at decibels of a level far and above what we normally subject ourselves to, we needed some time to wind down.

So grab a glass of vino and relax to catch up on some of Stage 7 of the Giro. After Matty Lloyd's solo effort the previous night, we were wondering what the Stage and the strade bianche (The words strade bianche may translate into English as white roads – the gravel gleams brilliantly under the summer sun – but there was no evidence of that today as the deluge turned them into a brown quagmire- from road.cc) would hold. We had been following the text coverage on CyclingNews but managed to find live streaming with English commentary and were absolutely enthralled.

I suspect what we watched will go down as an epic stage of tour stages. The sections of non-sealed road and the rain made for some very demanding riding from the pros and it was Cadel who drove the front runners over the last 10km.

It was a fitting end to the stage that Cunego and Vinokourov were unable to catch Cadel on the uphill finish- it was a massive effort and gave us glimpses of what the grand tours were when the "hard men" of cycling rode these circuits.

What will tonight's stage bring???? I can only hope it is as epic as last night..

Cheers-ride safe

09 May, 2010

And so it begins.....the Grand Tours 2010.

The Giro kicked off last night in Amsterdam (that would be the Giro d'Italia in Amsterdam- as in Netherlands) with Stage 1 being an individual time trial. The next two stages also take place in the Netherlands before the riders have their first rest day (albeit early in the schedule) and travel to Italy for the remaining stages. Pretty hard to find any climbs in and around Amsterdam that would rival the Dolomites.

And I learned something last night about stages and prologues- a prologue can only be classed as such if it is less than 8.0 kilometres. Where the TT was 8.4 km, it does not qualify as a prologue and is classed as a stage as per the report from Cycling News, "According to the UCI rule, “ A prologue may be included in stage races on condition that: 1. it must not exceed 8 km. ...."

So there you go- you learn something everyday. Bradley Wiggins took the honours for Stage 1 and will wear the maglia rosa for tonight's stage. Couple of BMC riders just a couple of seconds back- Brent Bookwalter and Cadel Evans (go you good thing!!) followed by Alexandre Vinokourov.

Should make for some great viewing over the next three weeks. For anybody wanting to catch some blogoscopic commentary on the stages, a few links for you:

Cycling Tips



and Red Kite Prayer

Cheers- ride safe- enjoy the Giro

28 April, 2010

Take 15 minutes before eating or on an empty stomach..............

Welcome to Boab's "House of Antibiotics."  For what must be about the sixth or seventh time in just over a year, I am back on the antibiotics for a chest/respiratory infection. I just don't get it- anyway I'm off work for the next few days on the advice of the good doctor so it should give me lots of time to catch up on some cycling blogs.

Cheers- ride safe

18 April, 2010

Bright Lights, Big City.....no Bike

Back home from "The Big Smoke" on Friday night. I like Brisbane- in a funny sort of way and in small doses. It's one of those places that could have its own T-shirt- "I spent a month in Brisbane last week!!" I'm sorry to all of those who live in Brissie and might be offended, but it's just too big for me- too impersonal.

I suspect that not having the bike and being able to have a bit of a hit out in the mornings may have something to do with it. But as I stood on my balcony eating my brekkie and watching the death-defying acts that constitute bike commuting, I thought perhaps Hemingway experienced something along the same lines the first time he visited Pamplona and witnessed the running of the bulls- young brazen men full of testosterone and a sense of invincibility, court, tease and flirt with death through the streets. I guess the one advantage the cyclists have is that their adversaries stop for red lights- Pamplona bulls??- probably not.

Townsville to Charters Towers road race today. 120km and a 300 metre climb with great rollers from the top of the Mingela Range and on to The Towers. Almost 50 riders fronted for the handicapped start and the winner, Will Cullen- off 33 minutes I think- blasted his way to the front about 20 km out and was all alone coming across the line- nobody else in sight. He and Sue Abel, another good friend and very strong rider, were first across the Burdekin Bridge with Sue picking up a couple of preems for being the first to the top of the range and first across the bridge.

Shortly after the bridge, Will pulled away and powered home all on his own. Sue was overtaken by the back markers and eventually finished about 12th overall and first woman across the line.

Dee and I did rider support for three riders at the two feed stations- first time I've done that side of it and will gladly do it again (if I'm not riding). The race in reverse (Charters Towers to Townsville) takes place in August- better start putting the training plan in place =8^)

Congrats to the race organisers and the riders and to the other road users who all seemed very patient and co-operative this year.

Cheers- ride safe

03 April, 2010

Get your compression tights on- it's only Day 2 of a 4-day weekend

Coffee ride this morning only saw about a dozen and a half of us hit the road. Guess a lot of people headed out of town for the long weekend and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The group is definitely more manageable with those smaller numbers than when it gets up over 35 or more. Other road users seem to be less "inconvenienced" by a smaller group as well.

It was a good workout this morning- even if only for coffee. Pretty healthy cross/headwinds for much of the ride made us all work a bit harder. And when I tried to get a bit of a paceline going, it was definitely a learning experience for the other participants. It probably would have been better if we had discussed it ahead of time but I think they got the idea after a few turns . We did discuss it further at the cafe and I suspect we'll give it another go next week.

I am sitting here with my compression tights on as I type. Being only the second day of a four day weekend, I want to be able to ride Sunday and Monday and thought it best to take some recuperative/preventative measures. Yesterday Dee and I did a dam/Pallarenda ride in the morning and then in the afternoon while Dee was off watching French vignettes and eating baked brie stuffed with dried fruit, I sneaked off and did another turn down along the beach to get me over the 100km for the day.

Sunday and Monday look like similar type rides which I don't want to miss- thus the tights.

No racing for a few weeks- Easter weekend is always a break, next weekend is the North Queensland Games in Cairns- an event held every two years and while I did take part in 2008, I'll be travelling to Brisbane on Sunday for work and so unable to be in the Games this year and the following week is one of the local scene's bigger races- the Townsville to Charters Towers handicap (and I'm not ready for that little epic this year).

Anyhow, enjoy your Easter chocolate (or Chardonnay or Cab Sav) and go for a little extra burn tomorrow (and Monday if you're fortunate enough to have the day off).

Cheers- ride safe

21 March, 2010

We're still waiting...

It's hard to believe a category 3 cyclone crossed the cost just a few hundred km from here. Lots of trees down and some houses had their roofing torn off by the wind and very heavy rain but nothing up this way. It was very quiet overnight- we kept waking up and thinking- "Well, the wind should pick up any minute now." And it never really did.

I got up around 5:45 and there wasn't a breath of wind. There have been a few gusts but nothing over about 40km/hr.

Anyhow, Ului is now just a rain depression heading into the interior of the state bringing some heavy rains with it. Maybe that's it for this cyclone season- here's hoping.

Cheers- ride safe

20 March, 2010

Gettin' ready for a big blow.......

Well we're hunkered down at 7:00pm while the dinner stews on the stove- and that's only appropriate since it is stew- waiting the arrival of Ului. Ului has been bouncing around the South Pacific and Coral Sea since last Sunday and has decided it's time to "put into port" on the oceanic ventures.

This tempest has probably generated more column inches (or bandwidth) than any storm in recent times. As early as Monday there were predictions that Ului would come ashore and wreak havoc on the east coast of Queensland. Those predictions came primarily from the US Navy's meteorologic service in Pearl Harbour with early predictions of landfall in the southern part of the state.

A local weather presenter took exception to some of the media coverage and vented his spleen over "sensationalist" media coverage and that there was no threat as the system was going to head to the south-east and not be of any consequence- according to the national weather agency (as reported by said weather presenter).

Let's move ahead to today and as we sit here (in a very eerie stillness) we are sitting in a region that has been pre-declared a disaster area- giving authorities the power of forced evacuations.

Will there be any humble pie consumed? I suspect not- but this "non-threatening" weather event may seriously impact my opportunity to get in a Sunday ride.

Cheers- ride safe (and avoid the cyclones)

07 March, 2010

Flora and fauna

Well the team time trial has been and gone..........we rode quite well but actually did quite poorly overall. We had nominated a time of just over 44 minutes for 20 km. Now that may seem a bit slow but a couple of our team haven't been riding much and were pretty sure they wouldn't be able to maintain much more than 27 or 28 km/hr. Fair enough we say and remove all of our bike computers, watches, GPS, sundials and calendars before the race.
Given that the whole idea was to ride to our nominated time- we failed spectacularly. We were faster by almost 4 and a half minutes which is comforting in the "so you rode pretty well" stakes but absolute SML (Stone Motherless Last) in the "ride to your chosen time" category.
The friends we rode with have been focusing on other health and fitness activities of late and have only ridden about 3 times in the last three weeks. Those rides also tend to be more of a social occasion than a training ride and a real gabfest often takes place and gets interrupted by cycling.
Anyway it was all good fun and the greenery along the road is as lush as I have ever seen it- I guess a couple of months of good steady rain will do that. Lots of birdlife around the wetlands and a few "Joe Blakes" on the road. (For anyone unfamiliar with Aussie rhyming slang- a Joe Blake is a snake). They were of all of the deceased status and looked like they were probably young water pythons.
Looks like it'll be blue skies and sunshine for a few days now- no excuse not to get some good km's in this week.

Cheers- ride safe

05 March, 2010

It's time!!!!

As Arsenio Hall used to say as the intro to his show, "Its time....." time I got stuck back into scrawling off a line or ten. What a slacker, eh?? I would like to use Vancouver 2010 as an excuse but that wouldn't be right. I would say my total TV hours for the Olympics would have been less than 10 hours- somehow I just couldn't stay up to watch the nightly broadcasts starting at 9:30. And on a couple of occasions on the weekends when we managed to grab some time in front of the box, we were treated to repeats of Torville and Dean. For crying out loud folks- can we move on? There have been other skaters on the ice since 1984...

We relied on free to air telecasts having gotten rid of our satellite dish some years ago- and like a lot of things these days, it's free for a reason..... I do have it from a good source that the Fox Sports package was excellent so if there is no option for streaming over the net for the next Olympics, that may be an option. As it was, the event I wanted to see the most, the gold medal men's hockey game was on tape-delay here so I headed off to work and found a live blogging of the game. Not quite the same and the refresh button on the browser got a pretty good workout.

And so what has all of this got to do with cycling? Well not much, it's just that even with all of the heavy rain we had during the Olympics which severely reduced my hours on the bike, I still couldn't bring myself to watch the free to air coverage.

Team time trial on Sunday- a club fun one. Mixed grades and genders in teams of three or four- nominate your time and try to ride to it with no watches or bike computers.....prize for the team that comes closest to their nominated time.

Cheers- ride safe

14 February, 2010

"We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because" ....

....we are cyclists. With those few words from JFK resonating through the caverns of my skull, I was at the start line for today's 10km TT (Time Trial for non-cyclists who may be reading). I missed last year's season-starting TT due to illness- the first of several respiratory infections that would act like a fire blanket on my race season.

I didn't know if I was going to make this one either- one of my fellow employees figures the company just cannot function without her and so after catching a bacterial infection that one her kids brought home from pre-school, she decided to share with the rest of us. WTF is with these people? You have sick leave for a reason.....stay home and spare the rest of us your sniffling and sneezing and germs. Wednesday (my second day this week where I could not attend work due to illness) I went to the doc's and got put on antibiotics to try and combat the throat infection. It had got to the point where swallowing was almost unbearable- my tonsils were inflamed and the glands in my neck were very swollen- no fun and no riding.

Saturday morning and I had to stop the medication-my gut was in such a state of discomfort that I put a halt to the pills. I have been eating yogurt and drinking fermented yogurt (it actually tastes much better than I ever dreamed) to try and restore some good bacteria. Seems the antibiotic must have been very enthusiastic.

We did the coffee ride yesterday- a bit over 55km and felt pretty good so decided to give the TT a go this morning.

The morning was "coolish"- if you can call 25C and 96% humidity cool. I guess it's all relative to what we have been experiencing of late. We had a good shower in the early hours of the morning and with the overcast conditions, things didn't heat up as quickly as they usually do. Registration took place at 6:30am and the first starters were off the line at 7:00 on 30 second intervals- with a light shower and the rumble of thunder just offshore.

The start was not done by grade but by registration- first in got number 1 and so on. I was 23 and had 3 A graders immediately behind me. I think the first one overtook me before I was a km down the road....
Anyway- out and back- 10km in 18 minutes and change. Still waiting for the club to post the results on the website but no matter what the "official" time is, it will be ever so much better than last year's result.

Cheer- ride safe

30 January, 2010

It’s Raining Again (Or should I say "Still"?)

It's 10:15 Saturday morning and I have just tilted the laptop screen toward me to shed a bit of light on the keyboard- believe me, I am not a touch-typist- not quite a hunt and peck either but I'll win no prizes in the keyboard skills competition. It has gone very dark in the house as the next wave of monsoonal showers passes through. I think we're almost a full week into steady (sometimes torrential) rain.

There have been times when I can hardly see the neighbours' house across the backyard as the rain pelts down. Almost reminds me of snowstorms back in the old country- we just don't have to shovel out afterward.

It has put a bit of a halt to my cycling routine this week. Over the last 5 days we have had almost 300mm dumped on us and with a soon-to-be ex-cyclone off to the northwest and dragging lots of moist air toward it, methinks that it could be considerably higher before we see a break. Never mind- sunny days will be back soon enough I'm sure.

I wonder if tomorrow's crit is still on???

Cheers- ride safe


24 January, 2010

It was a bit like a treasure hunt....

It's funny how things disappear. And it's sometimes even funnier, the things you find while looking for those things that have disappeared. Take pictures (or photographs if you prefer)- a friend put up that this was Wedding Week on Facebook and that we should replace our profile pics with a picture from our wedding.

Well the search was on- high, low, indoors and out for our wedding photos. Now we know that the wedding album itself didn't make the trip Down Under when we migrated, but both Dee and I thought we had brought the photos. Alas, we didn't find any of "the" wedding photos but we did come up with a few slightly less-than-professional shots which despite their yellowish tinge and probably champagne-affected focus, show us in our wedding day finery.

This pic is for you Bluenoser- during the search, Dee came across a ziplock bag of photos, some of them from my time on the rigs and one in particular on a rig being transported from Dunkirk, France to Nova Scotia. I can recall the day like it was last week- although it is now more than 25 years ago. It was particularly windy and as I hit the button, there was a very strong gust of wind which resulted in the following.................................................

And the 2010 Tour Down Under has just wrapped up with Andre Greipel of Team HTC taking out the ochre jersey as overall winner in the GC.

Big winds and heavy rains forecast for the next few days as we feel the effects of a couple of ex-cyclones and a very active monsoonal trough. Might seriously cut into the early morning rides.

Cheers- ride safe

16 January, 2010

First long ride in a while

Saturday- our usual coffee ride took a backseat this week as we jumped on a group ride out to Woodstock and back (to the cafe of course). Just short of a century but we couldn't be bothered putting in junk km's just to hit triple figures. The ride actually got split into two groups before we headed out- there must have been close to 50 cyclists and to make things more manageable for all involved (motorists included) we divided into a couple of groups- 5 minutes apart.

It was Dee's first group ride out on the highway where there is traffic at 110km/hr and road trains with three trailers hauling ore from mines in the western part of the state. Not for the faint-of-heart. And she did really well- fitness was never going to be an issue- she does an absolute tonne of km's. The concern is with the dynamic of a group at speed and the associated hazards with cycling along the highway.

She blitzed it- after hanging back a bit for the first 10 km or so, she gained confidence in following wheels and played a full role in rolling through and taking a turn on the front. And she managed to avoid hitting any mummified remains of road-kill kangaroos and wallabies along the route.

It was a lovely ride- the area has greened up nicely after the rain around New Year's and there were lots of parrots, lorikeets and finches crossing the road giving us something else to look at besides the tread pattern of the wheel in front.

Sunday beckons- probably do a nice jaunt out to Pallarenda and then coffee as a recovery.

Cheers- ride safe

10 January, 2010

I think that was a wind training session....

We did the slug thing this morning and stayed in bed after the 4:30 alarm. Eventually dragged ourselves out and had a coffee and read the morning's news online. We had both cycled every day this week and really, we do need a bit of rest.

So we pottered around the house and yard doing chores- I edged all of the garden beds in the front (and along the driveway pavers) with the shovel to get a nice clean edge (never mind the fact that my weed whacker decided it was no longer desiring to be a contributor to the greenhouse emissions and packed it in a few months back. All of the plastic/rubber components seemed to disintegrate all at once- go figure eh?)

A bit past mid-morning I was getting antsy and so we decided to get in a small ride. There was good cloud cover (of the intermittent variety) which was helping to keep the temperature down to around 29C and the wind was, shall we say, refreshing.

Off we went along the bikeway beside the river and down to the V8 track- or at least a section thereof. This particular section of the V8 circuit is closed off from traffic but easily accessible- the loop is 630m on the inside and 680 if you decide to cycle out wide. I think we did about 10 or 12km on the circuit with a pretty good head/crosswind across the majority of the track.

I just checked the figures from the Bureau of Meteorology and while we were out, the average wind speeds were 20-46 km/hr with gusts to 56.

It gave me a pretty good week for this early in the new year, 287km- I probably should grab myself by the collar and head out the door for 13 more km but it's time to kick back with a glass of vino and wait for the lamb shanks........mmmmmm!!

And congratulations to Townsville rider Ruth Corset who yesterday won the Australian Women's Elite Road Cycling Title in Bunyinong, Victoria and to her coach and husband Jason. Their hard work is paying off with this title and continues Ruth's success after being named the Women's Elite Road Cyclist in December

Cheers- ride safe

05 January, 2010

Fingers and Toes...

I have a full compliment of both- thank you very much....but I would have been hard pressed to use all of my digits counting the cyclists I encountered on this morning's ride. When I dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 04:15, the last shower was just passing through and I suspect that a fair number of the regular riders may have used that as an excuse to spend another hour or so in the sack.

On my regular circuit into the city, I saw two cyclists well ahead of me and one heading in the opposite direction. A loop along the beach front tallied up three more riders (G'day Adrian, Tony Z and Sue) and on the return trip I think I saw another 10 or 12. When compared with a normal Tuesday when there might be 60 to 80 cyclists- it just shows the power of water (when it falls from the sky).

Dee rode this morning (I know everyone is surprised) and got fairly drenched for the second day in a row. Interestingly enough, she commented on how it looks like it might be her year to get wet. Last year it was raining whenever I headed out- so far, this time around the rain stops just before I head out the door. This year (for what it's worth- but there may be a pattern developing) the rain stops just before I head out and then fires up again just as Dee gets to the furthest point of her ride.

That's not to say I end my ride in a "dryer" state- I think my gear still holds about the same amount of moisture as if I had cycled in the rain- it's just that it's self-generated and there's something completely different about that.

Cheers- ride safe