22 December, 2011

'Bout Time!!!

"So, long time no read. You been overseas or something?"

"Vicariously, I suppose. We can all go anywhere, any time we choose through the magic of the web."

"So- where did you go?"

"Nowhere basically. But I have put an absolute shedload of k's on the bike since last I posted."

"And, so, to what do we owe the honour of this post?"

"It's Christmas- that time when we all need to over-indulge for 24+ hours and then catharticise for the previous 358 days of the year. And so the Christmas season has descended upon us.......prepare for the onslaught."

Last night, we hosted the annual Christmas light/bike ride/alcohol intake/pig-out.....We had about 2 dozen participants (kids included) who took part in our ride. I think we covered about 8km and I have to say that the lights were every bit as impressive as last year but the number of displays were down on previous rides.

Pre-ride preparations included nibblies and a few "bubbly" appertifs and lots of laughs. As darkness settled, we headed off (on bikes of course) with lights aglow. Fellow road users were most accommodating of the two-wheelers as we made our way to common locations.

As we cycled around the various suburbs, it struck me that we were accorded lots of room and friendly waves- none of the angst so apparent betwixt road users at other times of the day/week/year. Maybe I need to enlist a couple of kids to ride with me in the early morning (and wear a bunch of battery operated Christmas lights all the time). Here we were, cycling at about 8-9 km/hour without issue.

Try and do that during daylight hours. What brought this home was watching several mowers moving from one suburb to another via a road bridge- a two lane, non-shouldered, no bike lane bridge. Now these things move along okay (certainly not as fast as most cyclists I ride with) and motorists are content (notice I did not say happy) to fall in behind these guys and "go with the flow".

I can guarantee that if it was cyclists ahead of the vehicles, there would be angst, horns sounded and letters and/or texts to the local paper about the "lycra clowns" or "Lance wannabe's".

Go figure eh!!!!

The next few days will be society's gift to cyclists in our area. Warm mornings with very, very few motorists on the roads. If you have the chance- get out there and enjoy it!!!

Merry Christmas to all

Ride safe


14 November, 2011

On This Day.....

14 November- a quick search of the famous search engine application that rhymes with Dougall lists some well-known identities with birthdays falling on the fourteenth day of the eleventh month:

William III (1650)
Claude Monet (1840)
Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1922) a name so nice he used it twice
P.J. O'Rourke (1947)
Next King of England and the Commonwealth (maybe) (1948)
Mozart -Johann Georg Leopold, not Amadeus (1719)

And some musical events of note:

Leonard Bernstein made his debut with the New York Philharmonic (1943)
Black Magic Woman by Santana was released (1970)
The band Queen was formed (1971)

And a few historical events:

Hungarian uprising crushed by the USSR (1956)
Apollo XII blasted off for the moon (1969)
Blue Ribbon Sports became Nike (1972)
BoaB and Dee wed (1981) Okay so that one didn't actually come up in the search results.

And on that note, the historical and romantic significance of which cannot be surpassed, I give you this link of one of my favourite songs which pretty much sums up the way I feel today, our 30th anniversary, and every day.

Cheers- ride safe

01 November, 2011

Some Rides Just Give Me the Sh*ts.....

I should have posted this on the weekend but, well, sh*t happens and things get pushed aside.

We did our regular Saturday coffee ride and things were really quite controlled. Before we headed off, one of the group suggested (rather strongly I might add), that perhaps the group should split in two- those who feel the "need for speed" and those looking for a leisurely, social ride (I'm not talking "dawdle" here but just a nice steady pace of 28-30km/hr).

The "fast" group headed off first, leaving about a dozen and a half of us to make our way at a more sedate pace (or so we thought). Turns out the fast group had a bit of a think about their behaviour and sort of reigned things in. Anyhow, we all got together for a cup of java as per usual and eventually made our way home for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday afternoon rolls around and I thought I needed a few more kilometres (as you do). So, off I went with a circuit in mind and I had probably done about 75% of it when I had a flat- rear tire of course. It was midday- full sun, windy and probably not the best time of day to be cycling.

I found a bit of shade and proceeded to make repairs. I was using a patched tube and upon inspection, it turned out that the patch had failed. "No worries", I think. Just peel off the old patch and replace it with a "You beaut'" glueless patch.

2 minutes and I have pumped it up and I'm ready to go. I think I made it about 200 metres when I had that sinking feeling that it just wasn't right. Sure enough, it was flat again- guess you didn't do such a great job anyhow did you????

No messing around- just change the tube and get going will you? So I did and when I attempted to disconnect the pump, the Presta valve snapped off and all of my efforts were gone in one quick little "pffft".

So now I have to look at resurrecting the previously patched tube to make it home. So I put some air in it to see if I can find the leak- nothing, rien, nichts, nada, zilch, zip, SFA. (Turns out I hadn't screwed the Presta valve closed on the first go-round and again, all of my work disappeared like a puff of wind) .

Okay, third tube change completed and I'm on my way- sort of. I couldn't clip in with my left shoe- seems while I was concentrating on getting the tube replaced/repaired/pumped up/etc I managed to stand on a lump of semi-dessicated dogturd which was now firmly packed into the cleat of my shoe.

Okay- find a branch/twig/anything to dig this shit out so I can get home. "Gawd"- if it didn't smell so bad you could probably use this stuff as a cyclone-rated building material. It was packed in there pretty well. Took about 5 minutes to wash the remainder out of the cleat when I got home. What can I say????

22 October, 2011

If Only.......

- Despots, tyrants and dictators had been made obsolete 3000 years ago....

- The only "drones" were those found in beehives....

- World food production was directed where it is needed, not just where it is wanted.....

- Clean, safe water was available for everyone....

- There was no need for "armed intervention"....

- People could believe that "the other side of politics" isn't out to get them....

- "The other side of politics" trusted the other side of politics....

- Some people would learn to read....

- Some people would learn to comprehend what they read....

- The angst suffered between road users could be made to disappear....

- Everyone could experience the joy that comes from making the pedals go round....

Even making the pedals go round can sometimes bring pain and suffering. Our Saturday group rides have been getting a bit unruly of late. What started out some years ago as a social coffee ride of about a dozen riders has grown (blossomed/swelled/transmogrified/transitioned) into a free-for-all of up to 60 riders.

I had been, until recently, sending out a weekly email to the group with a bit of local cycling news and what was on for the weekend- pretty mundane stuff in the scheme of things but if I didn't send it, inevitably, there would be a text or email- "Is there a ride on Saturday?"

Anyhow, I gave it away- despite my efforts to impart a bit of cycling etiquette to some of the newcomers, they just didn't want to hear it. Erratic behaviour, failure to point out hazards, leaving riders with mechanicals or flats on their own, no consideration for other road users- the list goes on.

After last week's ride when a few "new riders" (new only in the sense of new to our ride- apparently they have been riding for years- you would think they would know better) showed up and displayed their "skills" for all to see, I decided that if those same riders fronted this morning, I would ride off the back and leave them to their own.

Needless to say, Dee and I rode as a group of two this morning. We did manage to catch up to the group after about 20km- they were all standing around waiting for the ambulance to cart off one of the group who was looking decidedly "the worse for wear" after touching wheels with the rider in front of him. A broken collarbone, some road rash, a smashed helmet and some spilled "claret" took a bit of the edge off some of the group. He will be experiencing some pain and suffering for a few days at least.

My weekday rides for the past 18 months have been on my own. I ride as hard as I like for as long as I like- without having to rely on someone else to come through on the front or worrying that I'm going too soft or too hard for those riding with me. I insert intervals where I like and make the ride "mine". Ideally, I head out about 2 to 3 minutes ahead of the two main group rides and work to stay ahead. Sometimes I stay away, other times- well, let's just say I have bad luck at the traffic lights.

Then about two months ago, several riders approached me and asked if they could ride with me. They were tired of the behaviours of the group ride and were looking for a safer option. After a couple of weeks of listening to their requests, I agreed- but these were the rules- this is how I ride- basically, if you don't like it, don't bother coming along.

I have sent one bloke packing- seems he is allergic to fresh air and didn't want to come to the front. That's not the biggest issue- I have been riding solo and if I give an elbow flick, there just isn't anyone to come through and take a pull. As the Velominati would say, "Have a dose of Rule V". My issue comes from dragging his butt along for 20km and then when the group which he wanted to get away from comes by, he jumps in with them. I guess I'm just not high-profile enough....

The bunch that he jumped with make a turn and head through the port area of town- things tend to heat up a bit as far as pace goes so he avoids that part of the ride. We caught up to him in town, at which point I called the court to order, read the charge, provided the evidence, asked for evidence in defence, determined the verdict and issued the sentence in less time than it took for the traffic lights to change.

As for the rest, I have advised them that they're going to have to lift their game. I record all of my rides and over the last couple of weeks the average speed has dropped by a couple of km/hr and the intensity is dropping as well. If things don't turn north this week, well, I just may be back to riding with my group of one. And if anyone misbehaves, I know who to speak with..... I guess I am my own little dictator.

Cheers- ride safe


04 September, 2011

September- Where Does the Year Go?????

The first weekend of September- here in the tropics, it's the first week of spring- a new beginning. Time to cast off the cold (cool by anyone else's measure) weather gear and luxuriate under the clear blue skies which so soon will fade to a washed out blue in the tropical summer. In the land of my birth, it's Labour Day weekend- that last gasp of summer holidays before the return to school.

Today (Sunday) is also Fathers' Day in Australia and Dee and I spent the day on the hop as it were. Not that we usually have a slothful Sunday- just that we usually spend the day puttering in the yard and garden. Today veered a bit from the normal course we steer.

No early morning ride and coffee. My legs were strident in their refusal, "It's not fair- you made us do something different....and we don't like it!!!" That "something" was a run. On Friday I thought I should start working a bit of running into my exercise regime. Nothing too strenuous, just a couple of km's to start out- at a pace which most runners would probably consider to be just "slightly above shuffle".

And I felt good- even the "morning after" I felt good- 55+ km ride with a few good hitouts thrown into the mix. I felt good....until this morning. Sometime during the night, I'm sure a troop of Gimli and his fellow dwarvish warriors descended and made merry with their axes and hammers upon the flesh of my legs. I could hardly walk this morning let alone pedal a bike.

After a Fathers' Day breakfast of French toast with strawberries and maple syrup, we made a trip to the local beachfront promenade, The Strand. This year is the biennial art display "Ephemera". And so we walked the Strand and took in the artworks that make up this year's Ephemera. (It made my legs "happier" and my soul)

 The giant Crayons

 Toadstool Garden

 Bagu Aboriginal art installation

 Japanese "raked sand" garden

 Glass turtles making for the sea

 And a bike- there are always bikes...

 Flying fish....

Dee and "3D" chalk work....

Cheers- ride safe

14 August, 2011

Well That Was a First.....

Not a first in the sense of being first amongst a group of like-minded individuals to pass a specific point marking the end of a defined distance in the shortest possible time- but rather as a participant in an inaugural event. Charters Towers is a gold mining/beef production/boarding school town located about 125 km south-west of Townsville.

Each year the town has a bit of a festival (The Gold Fever Festival) centred around the gold mining industry. It is a lifestyle festival which incorporates the history of mining and current operations as well as sporting activities like a Fun Run and this year, a three stage cycling race.

Gold Fever LeTour included an individual time trial (18km) and a criterium on a 1.3km circuit on Saturday and then a road race back to Townsville with the distance varying from 103km to 121km depending on the grade.

Our local club has had a memorial race (The Bob Campbell Memorial) which has been run on this weekend for many years. This year, that race was incorporated into the Gold Fever LeTour schedule with considerable support from the Charters Towers Regional Council, Townsville City Council, Xstrata Great Western Games and many financial sponsors.

For a first time event, the support was fantastic-more than 80 licensed riders registered for the weekend's racing. There were additional riders who took part in the time trial only and as part of the festival, a "Come and Try Day" was held for unlicensed riders on the criterium circuit.

I had never taken part in a stage event and wanted to be part of the weekend so I registered and headed off Saturday morning for the TT and crit. I have done a TT before- but never one which included so many, what shall we call them- undulations perhaps??

Okay- just over half an hour of self-inflicted misery and it was all over. But it wasn't bad for for someone with a keen aversion to hills- had me in sixth in our grade (almost commuter grade). Then a bit of a break and off to the crit circuit- 25 minutes plus 3 laps of a 1.3km circuit with a couple of testing corners and a downhill finish into a headwind.

About 10 of us got away after 7 or 8 laps and managed to stay away for the rest of the crit- I didn't manage to pick up either of the sprint prizes on the intermediate laps and I didn't get lapped and was able to hang on for a top ten in the general classification after two stages.

Then it was in the car and back to town- Dee was coming back from her trip to Nova Scotia. Gawd, the last four weeks have been lonely.

So with my support crew back in town, it was up and at 'em at 4:15 this morning. We headed back to "The Towers" for a 6:30am race start. About 8C and foggy was how it all began and 103 km (2 hours and 45 minutes) later, it was all over. And despite the great hand-off of the water bottle, I didn't manage to squeeze it like I intended (sorry Dee) and it hit the deck. Fortunately I still had about half a bottle on board which was enough to see me through. Overall the race was less painful than I had feared but that last "little" hill before the finishing straight was my nemesis. Despite leading the group on to the hill, I felt the cramps coming on in my thighs and had to back off in order to keep moving. I was not alone as the sprint leader of our category fell to more severe cramps and fell well behind me.

I think I finished in about 9th in today's stage and it was enough to take me to 5th place overall in GC and plant the seeds for next year's race. The dates have been set and the planning has begun. Here's hoping this is the start of a great event on the race calendar.

Cheers- ride safe

31 July, 2011

Now, how did I do that?

About a week ago, I woke with a sore back- lower back- sort of, just above the waist. Have no idea what I did- there hasn't been any heavy lifting, twisting or turning. No games of football, soccer or hockey- I just don't know.

I did some gardening and some painting, but nothing any different to the normal chores around the house and yard

It seems to be at its worst early in the morning although some mornings there isn't a single twinge. And I have had lots of suggested cures: You need your spine re-aligned,  you need acupuncture, you need to stretch on the balance ball before your feet hit the floor in the morning, you need to stretch your hip flexors......needless to say, I haven't taken on board all of the suggestions.

I have tried some stretches and some ball exercises and while I definitely feel better, I can't say unequivocally that one or the other is responsible for the improvement. This morning I got up for an 80+km ride and as I started to get ready, there was the twinge.

I decided to forego the long ride- it would be rather unfortunate to get to the furthest point from home on an out-and-back trek and start really experiencing some pain (other than the self-inflicted type from mashing on the pedals). Instead, I just did a 50km loop around the city. And the further I went, and the more I warmed up, the better my back felt.

So I guess I'll just have to ride more- what a shame.......

Cheers- ride safe

24 July, 2011

How Good was That Ride???

Like 99.998% of all cycling fans in Australia, I was glued to the coverage of the ITT from Grenoble last night. The hopes of a cycling nation were resting on the somewhat slight shoulders of Cadel Evans and his not-so-slight quads and hammies.

With a deficit of 57 seconds to Andy Schleck, Cadel entered the penultimate stage which was being held on the same course as the TT stage of the Criterium Dauphine in June of this year- a race which Cadel rode as a precursor to the Tour.

Watching the intermediate times come up on the screen quickly allayed any fears that Evans would yet again fall short. Before the half way point, Cadel had erased the deficit and was quickly establishing a strong account with time being the deposits.

It was clear before Evans even crossed the finish line that he would be wearing the yellow onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on Sunday and become the first Australian to wear the golden fleece as the victor of the Le Grand Boucle.

Dragging my weary butt off to bed at 2:30 this morning, I didn't foresee getting in an early morning ride and turned off my alarm (and I have been suffering from a very sore lower back for a couple of days- cause unknown but as of Sunday evening is definitely on the mend).

Today was also the big event on the local MTB scene- the Paluma Push. "The Push" is a cross country race/ride which raises funds for the local rural fire brigade in the rainforest community of Paluma- located about 60 km from Townsville. There are two categories- a recreational class which covers 40 km and a competitive class which covers an extra 20 km.

A number of our friends have taken part in this race in every edition of the race and still finish with a smile on their face. I drove up to Paluma to cheer them on at the finish line- having done this race a couple of times myself, any encouragement over those last 300 metres helps you to forget about the cramps, the lactic build up, the bumps and scrapes and is well received.

I took the camera in the hopes of getting some pics- and I did get some pictures- just not pictures of what I thought I was aiming at. I find the digital display very hard to see in bright sunlight and as a result I ended up with shots of riders and backgrounds- sometimes minus the rider. Oh well...

Steve Butler and Ash O'Neill (Steve didn't even get lost this year and had a PB)

Steve Breen's back (at least he's in the picture)

Steve Donaldson (post Timor L'Este secret training)

                                          Bill and Julie (minus Julie)

All in all- good fun. Now it's almost time to watch Cadel make his way in to Paris and lay claim to the Maillot Jaune and a place in this country's sporting history.

Cheers- ride safe


17 July, 2011

Racing Cancelled- Let's go into Rescue Mode...

This morning's (Sunday) race was supposed to be a criterium to be run in place of a road race which scheduled for a circuit which is still showing the ill effects of this year's wet season. Unfortunately, the crit was cancelled. This is a bit of a disappointment as this was to be the last crit before the 3 stage race next month.

So in light of the cancellation, I decided to do a bit of work in the garden while Dee made her final preparations for her trip to Canada. The garden beds needed to be edged and weeded so I got stuck into it. I then noticed a stump- the remnants of a wattle that came down in the cyclone in February. Better get rid of that too while I'm at it so I got the mattock to cut the roots and dig out the stump.

I took one swipe and cut one of the six roots that were keeping it anchored in the ground. As I moved on to the next one- I heard a plaintiff, little mewling cry. Turning to my right, I saw a little pinkish figure sprawled on the sugar cane mulch. It was a very young possum- still mostly hairless with eyes looking to be just recently opened.

I looked in the surrounding trees but there was no sign of Mum Possum. Not sure if this little one was the smaller of twins and was rejected or fell from her mum's pouch but she definitely wasn't going to make it on her own- not with a nesting pair of sea eagles next door who happen to have a couple of young chicks constantly demanding a feed.

I grabbed a tea towel and scooped her up and asked Dee to ring the Wildlife Carers. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful local volunteer group who look after injured and abandoned native creatures. They advised Dee that their Animal rescue Centre was open today and could we bring the possum around. We took the little possum to the carers who immediately placed her in a fluffy pouch and said they would immediately start her on a rehydration formula to be followed by a "milk" formula.

The carer advised that the possum should do quite well- she had a very strong cry and was squirming strongly- very reassuring words.

And for Dee- enjoy the trip back to Nova Scotia. Eat lots of seafood and ride lots of km's.

You know- sometimes it's not about the bike.

Cheers- ride safe

03 July, 2011

Winter Racing and Busted Glass......

After a warmish week (I didn't even have to wear the arm-warmers and leg warmers and full-fingered gloves on a couple of days), the thermometer is having a hard time making its way to moderate and the forecast is for it to be progressively cooler right through next week.

This morning's (Sunday) race saw the club head off to a crit circuit which we haven't used for 9 or 10 years. It's in a smallish light industrial park and with nice wide corners is well suited to some of the newer riders. The only downfall was the glass. Despite the best efforts of the sweepers, some of those lovely little diamondesque daggers were just laying in wait for us.

I think there were about 5 flats in all. I managed to have two- one just before the start and one about 3/4 of the way through the race. A couple of the A graders each had one and a bloke in C grade had an absolute corker. Unfortunately his was not caused by glass but rather he was the author of his own misfortune. Pedalling through one of the corners on a far too sharp angle, he contacted the kerb (curb for NA readers) with his left pedal. That contact threw the rear of the bike sharply to the right- much to the concern of his fellow racers. He did manage to counter balance and bring the bike back under control, but it would seem that the force with which the rear jumped and hit the road was enough to roll the tyre (tire- another concession to the Canadians) off the wheel, exposing the tube which let go like a gunshot.

Needless to say, he and I sat out the remainder of the race. I put my hand up but there just didn't seem to be any team cars or mechanics anywhere to hand me a new wheel- I guess they must have all been watching reruns of the first stage of the TdF.

Given that one of our broadcasters here in Aus is showing every stage of the tour, live, I suspect there will be more than a few sleep-deprived people showing up for work over the next three weeks. The last 10 kilometres of last night's stage provided enough action to pique everyone's interest. Will tonight's team time trial provide anything like that??? Highly unlikely- but you just never know.....

Cheers- ride safe


12 June, 2011

Winter Doldrums..

The weather has been somewhat coolish of late. Well- pretty f#$*ing cold by tropical standards if you want to get down to brass tacks about it. Morning lows around 7-8C and daytime highs of less than 20C; however, we are bereft of the usual brilliant clear, sunny skies that accompany the low temps. Cloud and rain have been the side dishes to our entree and they have been underdone and poorly served.

Yesterday (Saturday) was particularly uncomfortable. Just after midnight- a howling southwesterly change went through and the temps dropped and down came the rain. I rode anyway with a somewhat diminished group and shivered my way through an end of ride coffee- what a wimp!!!!

This afternoon was a (semi) return to the tropical winter weather we love. The skies cleared and the warmth of the sun on your back was pure bliss. The 30+km ride to the dam was cathartic but alas the euphoria was short-lived. As the sun edged westward this afternoon, things cooled off very quickly and I sit here hoping I don't need to fully "rug up" for a ride in the morning.

Cheers- ride safe


22 May, 2011

Doo Wah, Doo Wah- Do a Duathlon.....

Well- a first for me today. Not first as in a first place finish but first as in first time experience. I took part in a duathlon today. Much like a triathlon but with one leg absent from the schedule of events- notably the aquatic stage. Which is probably just as well as I swim like a stone.....

The race consisted of a 5km run followed by a 20km ride and then a 2.5km run. I should also mention that my running is certainly not going to get me an invitation to the 2012 Olympics in London- so I outsourced the running- it's an allowable option under the Team entries so "Why not?"

It was good fun- Dee and I headed out to the race venue bright and early- a nice 17km ride after which we proceeded to stand around for the next hour and a half cooling off as we waited for things to get underway.

It was interesting taking part in yet another type of race involving cycling. I thought that drafting was not permitted in these races but I had a bloke stuck on my wheel like a leech for probably the better part of 10km. Live and learn I guess. I made him take the front 4km from the finish and then took a bit of a flyer about 750 metres from the finish. (And I made every effort not to draft- I tried to stay at least a metre to the side the whole time).

It was different from road racing in that there was no surging, no attacking. And different again from a time trial in that there was always someone immediately in view to aim for.

So, at the end of it all- I think I need to consider running. We'll just leave the swimming alone for now.......

And for the record, our team finished second (if that's any consolation). And yes there were more than 2 teams..........

Cheers- ride safe

07 May, 2011

A Different Sport

I started this post last week but given the work load as a referee during the tournament, I didn't get a chance to come back and finish the post:

I'm not on the bike this week- I am in Penrith at the Australian National  Broomball Championships. I'm not playing but performing as a referee over the four days of the tournament.

So what is broomball? It's a lot like ice hockey but the players wear special soft-soled shoes which provide a considerable amount of grip.

The broom has a plastic-head on a wood or metal shaft.

The ball is made of quite-flexible plastic and is inflated to keep its shape and handling characteristics- it's about the size of a large grapefruit. The ball tends to get harder/freeze as the game progresses due to being in contact with the ice. If the ball gets too hard, we replace it during the game to prevent the ball from splitting when players take a shot (and it hurts considerably more when you get hit by a frozen ball).

Teams play five per side on the ice plus a goalkeeper- generally two defenders and three forwards.

I used to play broomball and referee as well but have done neither since 2007. Earlier this year I was asked by the Referee-in-Chief of Broomball Australia if I could help them out- travel and accomodation paid. And so here I am in Penrith--- freezing. Not really freezing but it is a considerable temperature adjustment from Townsville (28-30C and sunny) to Penrith (12-24C and wet/overcast- and the ice rink has a multiplier effect I'm sure).

So from Thursday through Sunday I spent the majority of my waking hours at the ice rink either refereeing or on stand-by in case one of the other refs was injured/sick/hungover/etc/etc and couldn't perform their role.

My last tally showed I actually ref'd 20 games and was on standby for another 14. Now, I do cycle quite a bit and for a bloke who's 50+ I'm not in bad shape. But running on ice uses a few different muscles and by Friday night, I could hardly hobble back to the room. Thankfully Saturday provided a break until 5:00pm although we did go through until almost 1:30 Sunday morning and then were back at the rink for 6:30 on Sunday morning.

All up it was good fun and if it helps advance a lesser known sport- so much the better. I even got asked if I was interested in going to Ottawa, Canada for the 2012 World Championships; both as a player and as an official.

Tomorrow (Sunday- Mother's Day) is our Team Time Trial out at Cungulla. Just loaded up on red beans and rice and looking forward to a bit of fun in the morning.

Images of the broomball equipment are from the D-Gel website: http://www.d-gel.com/english/english.htm

Cheers-ride safe


11 April, 2011

A Crit, Some Grit and a Snit.....

I thought I was well prepared for yesterday's crit:
Got the bikes ready on Saturday afternoon and packed the car with all of the gear so I could head out bright and early yesterday morning.
I packed the small esky/cooler with water/soft drinks/powerade for sale at the race venue (nothing like a nice cold drink at the end of the race, right?)
Made up the drink bottles for Dee and I and put them in the fridge.

Sunday morning I was out of bed by about 4:00- had a bite to eat, read the online news and a few blogs and then got my kit on. I grabbed the drinks from the fridge and put them in the carry bag. I gave Dee hers since she was riding to the venue while I was going to stop and pick up ice for the drinks in the cooler.

Right- stop at the servo down the road and grab a bag of ice and off to the V8 track for the crit. Arrive- get set up, put on shoes, gloves and helmet- grab drink bottles and......NO drink bottles. They were sitting comfortably back in the kitchen by the sink.

By the last few laps, I was enjoying the crit even less than usual. No water makes BoaB an unhappy rider.

So I hung around after our race for the A and B graders' race, then lugged everything back to the car and went home where we spent most of the afternoon in the garden. After a trip to a local nursery, Dee planted some tomatoes and eggplant, mulched the veggie beds and I went off and got some woodchip mulch for some of the larger beds in the backyard.

We were waiting for the start of Paris-Roubaix. Online broadcast started around 8:30 last night with live TV coverage starting at 10:30. The online coverage was ordinary to say the least- the video was very sporadic and would freeze for long periods while the audio would continue without a hitch. We ended up running two laptops with a video stream from a Belgian channel on one and audio from the Cycling TV mob on the other.

Not the best but at least we got to see quite a bit of the race before they entered the Forest d'Arenberg. When we switched to the TV coverage, it was considerably better and the amount of dust and grit in the air became more apparent. The dry, warm conditions meant the dust in the cobble sections was kicked up in great clouds by the motorcycles preceding/accompanying/annoying the riders.

Many of the riders looked like they had spent time in a mine by the end of the race- caked in dust and grime with pale masks where their sunglasses afforded some protection. Some with teeth caked in grit, others using the "farmer's hankie" to blow dust cake out of their noses and others summoning forth a bit of saliva to be spat out with some of the offending dirt.

We managed to stay awake for the whole of the race and it made for interesting watching as Cancellara showed some emotion at facing the all-too-real prospect of having to chase down the lead group all on his own. The other riders in his group were not about to come to the front to help him out- particularly Hushovd with his team mate Van Summeren off the front. Cancellara spoke his mind during the race both to his fellow riders and their team cars to voice his displeasure in their race tactics. I guess his victory earlier and performance in Ronde van Vlaandern had him as a marked man. Bit unfortunate Leopard Trek couldn't summon forth some support for him.

I did find it interesting that Hushovd decided not to go (or perhaps couldn't go) with Cancellara over the last few km's. After hanging off his wheel like a lamprey for a good part of the race, when Cancellara rode away in chase of his spot on the podium, Thor must have resigned himself to not wanting a Garvelo one-two finish.

Only 364 days to go....

28 March, 2011

Club Racing- It's Fun????

Yesterday (Sunday) was a club race meet. A hill climb TT (let's just say I wasn't last OK?) and then a 25k road race (for us plebes in "D" Grade) and 40km for the remaining grades. The "D" graders had a bit of fun- we're those who are new to the sport, not-quite-so-serious, and/or coming back from illness/retirement/deathbed, or just want to have a social hit-out. In case you're having a hard time doing the calcs- I ride in D Grade. I like the social aspect of D grade and if/when my fitness level gets to a degree where I can outride the other D grade riders, it will be time to move to C.

Club racing should be fun- it helps keep the spirit and camaraderie alive. And that's important in small clubs...

Yesterday I witnessed what was possibly the most unsportsmanlike race I have seen in our club. Earlier in the year (I'm talking this calendar year) a group of riders decided to form a team within the club- which is fine I guess for external events, stage races, etc... however, yesterday they decided to use their team numbers/strategies/whatevers in the club road race in C grade.

It became a race of 8 riders (Team X) vs 2 riders (non-Team X). A couple of Team X riders were sent off the front as a break and every time the remaining riders tried to get something going in the way of a chase, the remaining Team X would get on the front of the chase and slow it down. The remaining two riders never had a chance and there was no way that Team X would consider moving up to B grade because they would get whipped.

I just never realized there was so much prestige in winning by "swarming" in a club race.

I heard the leader of the team "apologising" to the other riders but it turned out to just be lip-service as that was "the race plan" they had set down beforehand. Makes me want to spew......

On the other hand- the countryside was lush and green, all of the streams were running and lots of waterfalls along the range. I know- at the speed I did the TT up the range, I had lots of time to take in the scenery.

Cheers- ride safe


21 March, 2011

We Bought a new TV and it Made My Legs Sore.....

I'm in recovery mode today. There was no race yesterday (Sunday)- in fact, we didn't ride at all but it feels like I did about 80km and then ran around "en pointe" for a couple of hours.

You see we bought a new tv and that meant I had to paint the ceiling. "Such logical progression" I hear some of you say. Well, Dee has done a pretty good job of telling the story of how we got to this point- I think I'll hobble off and finish painting the windows.


12 March, 2011

Did I Mention the Rain?

It's Saturday, the tenth of March. We're less than a fortnight into the month and already we have had more than 355mm of rain- that's about 14 inches in the Imperial measure and as I type, it is teeming down again. If it weren't for the palm trees, one could almost be forgiven for thinking it was blizzard/whiteout conditions- and the fact that it's about 25C outside as well. Not many blizzards at those temps.

The opportunities for a dry ride have been few and far between so when it wasn't bucketing at 5:15 this morning I decided to head out. It didn't rain for the majority of the 50 km circuit but it may as well have. The roads were still heavily puddled and it wasn't long before I could feel the water seeping between my toes and draining out through the bottom of my shoes.

It was better than yesterday though- I had probably only gone about 800 metres when the skies opened and so started a less than satisfactory ride. As I have said before, if it starts raining while I'm on the road, I'll stick it out- and that was my intention yesterday.

After about 4km with visibility seriously hampered (I need to wear my glasses when cycling and the rain on them was compounding the optical issues), I hit something on the road- nothing big, just very sharp- with the resulting tube failure sounding like a .22 shot. There was a bloke walking his dog along the sidewalk (which in that section of town have awnings from most of the businesses) who just about jumped out of his skin.

So I pulled off to the side of the road to hone my tyre repair/tube changing skills just a bit further. I was fortunate enough to be able to step under an awning to make my repairs as the intensity of the rain increased, seemingly every 30 seconds or so.

A quick once-over of the tyre revealed that the offending material had either been blown back out when the tube let go or was still somewhere on the road. There was however, a large gash right through the full depth of the carcass and any tube put in was doomed to fail.

They say if you throw enough money at a problem, it will disappear. For this problem I folded a five dollar note (we have that plasticy/mylar money here in Oz) and put it inside the tyre- over the cut. Popped in the new tube and pumped it up- ready to hit the road. The cut was big enough that the note was visible so I decided to not tempt fate and continue the ride, but to turn around and go home.

The rain had eased somewhat while I got the tyre fixed up but I probably hadn't gone more than 1/2km when down it came again. I did manage to make it home without further incident but it really took the edge off the day.

Racing for Sunday has already been cancelled due to a military exercise in the area where the race was scheduled. Apparently there will be a large number of vehicles on the road and we don't have the luxury of road closures for our races. The MTB event that was scheduled for tomorrow has also been canned- this time on account of the rain. It was scheduled to be a TT hill climb on a fairly new track but the club just doesn't want to risk too much damage to an overly sodden trail.

So with a bit of luck and the weather permitting, I'll just have to find another ride for tomorrow.

And I guess I shouldn't feel bad about the rain- a small town to the north of us, Tully, has had 2085mm since the first of this year- that's 2.085 metres of rain- most of that having fallen since they were hit by a category 5 cyclone early last month.

Cheers- ride safe

01 March, 2011

...to What the....?

I slept in this morning.....it was bucketing down for a good portion of the night- at least every time I struggled to some level of consciousness and looked at my watch it was raining. I think the last time I looked was around 3:15- too early to get up and head out at the best of times- let alone when the rain is doing its best imitation of a monsoonal downpour- hang on!- this is a monsoonal downpour.

I rolled over in the hopes of another hour+ of shut-eye. I certainly got the + out of it. 5:15 and I was out of bed like a shot- dressed, mixed a drink bottle and headed out the gate. Felt pretty sluggish for the first 10km or so and was just getting a good cadence going when the "A" graders went past.

I managed to stay ahead of the second major group until about 3km from home. They did catch me as one of those inevitabilities, and as we left the traffic lights at one of the major intersections, I recall looking at the bike computer and thinking. "Hmm- 38km/hr. That's not bad considering you've been off the bike for basically a month."

Then as I turned at the intersection into our neighbourhood, as a last check for the distance on the day, I realised my computer was gone. I did a drive-by along the route later in the day and there was no sign of it. It has been picked up, swept up or smashed into so many pieces by vehicles as to be no longer recognisable as anything I have ever had attached to my bike.

Cheers- ride safe (and make a reasonable guess at your speed and distance)


28 February, 2011

From Feast to Famine....

The year started pretty well..1031 km in January. Feeling good- lots of energy- no problem getting up at 4:00am and putting in 50+km. Then came February. Tropical Cyclone Yasi imposed himself/herself/itself on North Queensland on 3 February and the ensuing upheaval has caused my cycling regime to do an about-face and head back to square one.

I just totalled up my km's and I have a grand total of 135.4 from 4 rides- pretty impressive eh? And to add insult to injury (or vice versa) I have developed some kind of skin condition that has left me with a "lovely, inflamed, speckled patina" on my arms, upper thighs and torso. When it really fires up it feels like lots (10's, 100's- who knows?) of little electric shocks and sometimes it's very itchy- like "get me a pair of barbed-wire-mittens" itchy.

"When does it fire up?" I hear you ask. Well maybe that wasn't you asking but just the dog asking for another Eukanuba biscuit. It fires up when I start to sweat and get a bit warm- not hard to do in the tropics when you go for a ride at 5:00am and it's 27C and 90% humidity.

So the good Dr has advised that I refrain from cycling until this condition settles down. I have tried a course of steroid cream, broad spectrum anti-fungal ointment, non-soap shower gel/slime, various over-the-counter dermatitis and seborrhoea treatments, isopropyl alcohol wipedowns with varying degrees of success ranging from SFA to short term relief (we're talking hours here, not days).

This Sunday is the first time trial of the year- any chance I'll be ready?? Definitely not but I'm going to ride anyway- itchy or not. Might bring new meaning to the term "scratch race"

March is going to be better.....

Cheers- ride safe (and stop scratching!!!!!)

13 February, 2011

We're Getting There...........

It has been a fortnight since I've been on the bike. Cyclone Yasi has been an interruption to life in North Queensland. For some, the interruption has certainly been much more serious than for others. For those living in the outer areas of impact, things are pretty much back to normal. The closer to the path of the eye one gets, the higher the level of devastation.

Townsville is still recovering with water and sewer restored to most areas and electricity supply back on for probably 95%+ of residents. Those living on acreage properties on the fringes of the city are being restored systematically after the backbone high voltage supply is repaired.

Further North. some of the smaller beach communities have been pretty much wiped from the maps and will require major infrastructure rebuilds.

I am hopeful that I can drag my weary butt out for a ride tomorrow- the streets are starting to return to some semblance of normalcy. There is still a lot of vegetation matter lining the roads to be collected- everything from piles of branches to tree trunks and roots several metres in diameter. It does make for a bit of a challenge when approaching intersections and driveways....

Cheers- ride safe

06 February, 2011

Time to Draw a Breath...

106 and 135- that's not my blood pressure- those were the wind speeds (sustained and gusts) we had early Thursday morning as Yasi  came to shore about 180 km north of here. Wind speeds in the areas hardest hit were thought to be near 290km/hr. The destruction was widespread and there has, to this point, been the loss of one life- a young bloke who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when he ran a generator in an enclosed room as he sheltered from the storm.

Dee and I returned home from our son's place where we sat out the storm around mid-afternoon on Thursday. I had returned earlier to scope the damage and see if we could safely come back. The house had no structural damage although it looked like we had been in the firing line of the discharge chute of a giant leaf shredder.

All walls which face to the east were plastered with bits of shredded leaves and bark. The TV antenna seems to have taken a glancing blow from a falling trunk of a scheffelara.

There were many branches down, about 80% of our bananas have been flattened and our lemon myrtle and kaffir lime trees were showing the signs of a bad bout of weather. The lemon myrtle would normally be in this frame just in front of the bananas.

The myrtle has been resigned to the pile of green waste mounting on the footpath due to the fact that the trunk was shattered about a foot off the ground. The kaffir may be salvageable- I have pruned it severely, stood it more or less upright and now await its regeneration.

Our large melaleuca (paperbark) dropped a couple of very large branches and was stripped of a lot of its soft, spongy bark. Those branches landed on our fence and amazingly I have only found 1 damaged paling- although the gate seems to be a bit off true now and may require some attention.

The poinciana probably dropped the most branches and is now destined for removal.

The scheffelara (umbrella tree) is also heading for removal after losing one of its several trunks. Given the amount of tree damage in and around Townsville, there may be quite a waiting list for good quality tree loppers.

We're now on Day 4 without electricity. There has been extensive damage to the transmission network and the distribution infrastructure up and down the coast. Crews have been brought in from all around the state to assist in the restoration process. Our neighbours across the back are fed from a different zone substation than us and had their power restored this morning. We have run three long extension leads to their house to give us enough power to run a small fridge and a couple of laptops. Maybe tomorrow....

When will the roads be safe enough for a ride???? Good question......

Cheers- ride safely

02 February, 2011

We Can Survive This....

I didn't ride yesterday- I didn't ride today either. Two differing reasons- same root cause. There is a major weather event on our doorstep. Yesterday I could not summon the enthusiasm to head out the door after seeing the prediction on the path of Yasi- I just felt sick. This morning we were packing up the last things to take with us as we evacuated to our son's unit in the city. I had already brought the bikes in yesterday and stored them in the secure storage area.
This is not going to be pretty- as a matter of fact, it may be downright ugly and deadly.

                                         Image from www.goes.noaa.gov
This is Yasi- just off the Queensland coast this morning. A category 5 cyclone with winds estimated to be near 295 km/hr. The size of the system means it will impact a large area of the coast for up to 24 hours. It is also estimated that we could get a metre of rain- yes that is correct, 1000mm, 39 inches. There is also the threat of a storm surge as the storm approaches. The estimate for the surge is to be 2.9 metres above a 4.1metre high tide.

I better get a move on. The rain has started and the wind is really whipping already. We'll see you on the other side of this storm.

Update- 16:55 02/02/2011

Just waiting for the next update from the Bureau of Meteorology- due at 17:00. The winds have picked up to 55km/hr with gusts to 80km/hr. As evidenced by this update, we still have power and internet access and looking at the satellite and radar images, it looks that perhaps the eye has swung a bit more to the west. Maybe it's just very wishful thinking on my part.

Cheers- stay safe
BoaB v

28 January, 2011

01-2011 Almost Gone....

Friday 28 January 2011- four weeks into the new decade and the eastern quarter of this country may be thinking, "When is this going to end?"

Massive flooding in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria (and I'm not forgetting the people in the Gascoyne Region of WA either) has been an ongoing event since just around Christmas.

Now it would seem it may be our turn in the northern part of Queensland. We have had a couple of major rain events and lucked out on a couple of others as the systems skittered past without a major deluge. Anthony (the cyclone, not Cleopatra's consort) seems to be heading our way (again).

The system headed away from us toward Vanuatu or Noumea last week as a cyclone and dissipated to a tropical low pressure system as it travelled eastward. Today; however, Anthony did an about-face and has started to make for our shores.

Upgraded to a Category1 cyclone and forecast to intensify to a "2" or possibly "3" before landfall, I guess it's time to ensure all of the cyclone preparations are in order:

Cyclone kit prepared- check
Tarps and ropes ready- check
Car fuelled up- check
Mobile phones charged- check
Important documents in waterproof container- check
Gutters and downpipes cleared- check (Thanks Graeme)

Just need to fill some large containers with water, move some furniture off the deck and we should be "right as rain" as they say.

The worrying thing about all of this is that there is another system brewing out near Fiji which is predicted to follow hot on the heels of Anthony. A much larger, more intense system which should be on our doorstep next Thursday- category 4 or 5. Current modelling shows it coming to land just to the south of us. Here's hoping the modelling is wrong and it heads for the Galapagos.

Cheers- ride safe


04 January, 2011

A New Year's Revolution

Happy New Year to all

I hope you saw out 2010 in your favourite way on the weekend. Dee and I had a quiet evening at home with a few glasses of bubbly, a feed of prawns and a favourite from the old country, oatmeal brown bread. I don't think I have had that particular type of bread for probably 15 or 18 years. And nothing beats fresh home-made bread just out of the oven. I know, I know- I shouldn't eat so much bread but sometimes you just have to reward yourself.

I suppose I could have made a New Year's resolution to cut down on this, that or the other- but I've never been one much for New Year resolutions. And I reckon that the amount of cycling we do allows us to eat just about whatever we want (within reason of course- I mean, I don't think I would eat a bucket of fried chicken anytime).

So instead I have my New Year's Revolution- wherein I will make every effort to turn as many revolutions of my pedals as often as circumstances allow. And if the weather cooperates, I'm hoping that will be quite often.

And thanks Terry for the botany/Latin lesson. I took my name BoaB from the "Bloke on a Bike" component of my blog title with the realisation that there are boab trees in Australia. On this morning's ride, Terry gave me the Latin name for the boab- Adansonia gregorii. Named after one of Australia's early explorers, Augustus Gregory. (Link from the Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Cheers-ride safe