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