Sunday, December 28, 2008

end of year

A new year beckons
We are doing a lot of tidying, it must be a desire to start the new year with a clean slate. The bikes are clean and well oiled. The car is clean and still has a busted airconditioner. The house is pretty clean and still has a busted airconditioner and dishwasher. The fish tank is schmicko and replanted. The guest room is vacuumed and scrubbed and waiting for the next flood, or guests, whichever arrives first.

I have downloaded and updated some spreadsheets to keep track of my 2009 mileage.  I am pleased to report that I managed 1000 kms in December, which is awesome for me and doubly so since I was away for a full working week. Still a couple of days to go too, so - sweet!

It is hot and sticky, so most of the day has been spent sitting in front of the fan, using the computer. I have researched crop rotation through 3 beds. Usually you need 4 beds, but we don’t (can’t) grow Umbelliffers - Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, turnips , so we can get away with 3 beds. Also, summer is a fallow season pretty much, and we can do a planting of legumes/green manure in two of the three then. An Australian seed company has a special tropical green manure mix I am going to order right away, so we need to get some soil in and get stuck into it. 

Storms are building – hence the heat and humidity. I suspect the early morning will be wet and wild with thunder, but if not we will ride. Nature gets to choose, we’ll go with the flow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing day

Some people have to make an effort to observe special “no shopping days” but it was very easy for me to ignore Boxing Day. We don’t need anything, so why would we go shopping? So this is what we did. We went for an early ride - well good heaven's, what a surprise I hear you exclaim.
When we got home Scott skyped his brother and we had an excellent 'catch up'. Honestly, I can't believe we didn't start doing this sooner. I have been on Skype for ages, but Chris is a nerd too!
Then we ate turkey sandwiches, because as good as turkey dinner is, turkey sandwiches are better. Then we both spent time on the computer. I read one of my favorite blogs "garden rant" and since it is a surprisingly mild day (that means coolish in the tropics, not warmish) I headed out into the garden. Carol, I know you are out there, what do I do with this grass? It is flopping all over the place and not looking great. Can I cut it all off and hope for the best?

Here is a garden success, this silver cascading thingo is tough as old boots, it gets full sun and never cooks, which is more than you can say for the bromeliad which follows:

It has a lovely bloom, but alas it has seen the sun and cooked its leaves. 

Look! We got the new garden beds! I changed my mind and had custom made round ones manufactured, because I am a fuss pot and I like round things in the garden. We are currently using them as giant compost bins because there is a ton of pruning getting done and they need filling. Veggie planting has to wait til Easter anyway, it is too hot for most things to do well anyway.
Meanwhile the old veggie patch is carrying on with herbs and such

When the world is destroyed by whatever you imagine, imagine a world covered in nut grass. This garden has whole newspapers, thick ones, shingled over the soil, topped with cms of bark, and yet nutgrass endures. You kind of have to respect that. 
But we still get lots of eggplant and the sweetest pineapples you have ever tasted.

These are pineapple tops given to me by a local who sells them already topped from the back of his truck. He let me load up on tops one Saturday morning, and now a year+ later, we have the real deal happening in our own garden. As soon as these blush yellow we will bring them in, then they sit on the counter until the smell makes you salivate, then you eat them. 
So here is to a day of deep relaxation. Riding, eating, weeding, raking, planting, blogging. Why would anyone go shopping?

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Had a nice cycle with friends this morning, we went out to surprise a mate who came off the bike and broke a few things, and is stuck in bed. Luckily he and his wife were pleased to be awoken by a dozen or so lycra clad loonies bellowing christmas carols outside their bedroom window at 6:30 am. 

Thanks to my sister Gwen for the flowers, the smell of lillies is divine. We had nice presents. I got new wheels (Mavic ksyriums, they cost more than my engagement ring so I guess I still rate!) We are now replete with turkey and all the trimmings, kicking back for a relax.

A ride and swim tomorrow, coffee with friends, life is good indeed. Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas eve

Had a top ride this morning. Cool breeze (well – relatively speaking) and a float out to the dam before work. Just the most perfect morning. Hardly any traffic, parrots shot across my path and filled my vision with jewel colours and raucous sounds. It was easy to settle into the rhythm of the ride. Heart beating with excitement, grinning with pleasure, I found wings and flew. Up the wall like gossamer, a rest and a drink, then down and out from the dam. It is slightly downhill, the wind fresh and across your path, I put the hammer down and sped toward the bridge. I had to let out a yell of delight, it was mad, and perfect.

So this is my gift to all the snow bound Christmas celebrants out there. Be of good cheer. Dream of the freedom that summer brings. Love riding, never give up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

christmas? what christmas?

A big difficultyA big difficulty being from Canada and living in tropical north Queensland is recognizing that it is Christmas. I am hard wired to start shopping after the first snowfall, and so I really haven’t given Christmas much thought yet. I suppose I should get the tree up tomorrow (a fake one of course). I suppose my family will require a few presents. Meh.

At least we ordered the turkey (turkey is not a given here) so dinner is covered. We have several cases of wine and champagne in case there is a cyclone or something ; )

Tomorrow we MIGHT be lucky and get the air conditioning fixed, or there may be a delay for parts, the alignment of the planets or whatever. I actually spent so much time ironing today that I have a sore patch on my palm. It was the only activity I could justify performing in the TV room (watching TV never occurred to me), which has a box airconditioner which actually works well. The dogs were very relieved to keep me company. And we all have lots of smooth stuff.

A splendid cycling week, I am sitting pretty on 298 kms for the week, and I intend to have a good ride tomorrow, so 350 is a possibility. It is really lovely in the early morning, so I am enjoying the kms. My bike fit is not such a problem – I just kept raising my seat a bit, riding, adjusting, now I can do 50+ kms and not give my ass or hands or back a thought, and that is a very nice thing.

Work next week should be social and mildly productive. We all need a break, it has been a hard year in the University sector, and our hearts are filled with hope as the current government starts to tip a bit of cash into an industry? Infrastructure? which has been starved almost to death in the last decade. 

Interesting times ahead, fasten your seatbelt, hang on, we’ll get there. 

So we will hopefully make Christmas bloom with a ride to enjoy the lights. There are some neighbourhoods which go all out and a cycle with friends to take in the sights, have so champagne and get in the mood for the big day should be good. Tropical Christmas, difficult, but possible.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

this is Australia

A bit of Midnight Oil tonight, sitting on the padio and watching the storms.

What a cracker of a storm we are having. Great big lightning bolts and rain, cool, beautiful rain. We went to Stone River for the cycling friends Christmas piss up and flog up a mountain extravaganza this weekend. Hot, I want you to know, it was truly hot. We headed up Mt Fox range at 8 am, a time when any sensible cyclist is back from their ride and having a coffee. Headed out and spun easy on the Mountain bikes to the beginning of the Mt Fox road. I took off ahead of the rest because I figured I wasn’t going to make it and I wanted a big head start. Off I went. Soft sand on the road, the odd big (but dead) snake. Cattle who didn’t know what to make of a cyclist.

If you are cycling towards loose cattle, stick your elbows out so you look bigger. I find this an effective ruse to make them believe they should get off the road and run into the bush. So on I went. I don’t have very much hill experience, and I was really nervous. I feel sick and scared nervous. But I have gears on the Specialized bike I haven’t used yet, so I kept going up and up and up. It is 9 kms with hardly a break. By half way I was stuffed. I was sweating so much my front wheel was soaked with drips. I had drunk all my water, and I had a long way to go. I could feel the heat stress, dizzy and sick and pounding heart. I was having a fear of heights induced near panic attack when a friend caught up with me. He has had bypass surgery and is sensible about what he asks of his body. He said he was ready to turn around, and I went with him.

The decent was very fast, and cool. Down from the rainforest and back to cattle country, with fast switchbacks and my first experience of disk brakes. It was excellent. I used to get hand cramps from feathering the brakes, but the WSD of my MTN bike puts everything is reach for small hands and it was easy. Now I am over the jitters and looking forward to having another go on the MTN bike. Just give me a cooler day.

Back to the camp site and everyone headed for the river for a swim. Now I am fond of my cycling mates, but I let them go ahead of me. We have had some rain and the water was murky. I recon there are crocs in the river system, there is a sign 6 kms from our camping spot warning of estuarine crocodiles, and I believe it. But Aussies believe they are bullet proof, so in they all went, clutching an 11 am restorative beverage I may add. And when nobody got snapped I headed in too. Cool bliss.

We all spent the day in a stupor of heat. I must have been 35 celcius. Not much wind. Everyone gave in to a nap at some stage, and geeze it was hot. Great supper, lots of camp oven cooking, fun and wine. Early to bed, but no sleep. It was just so hot we all just dozed and tossed.

So now we are back home and blessed relief has blown through with a proper storm. The temperature has dropped to about 25, which is cool if you live here. Hope we have a clear start for tomorrows ride though, I have missed my road bike.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bouquets, no brickbats

I would like to offer my humble thanks to the parks staff of Townsville for their kindness. By the time I managed to find a crack in the day to phone about the bikeway they had already organized a bobcat to fix up the trouble spots, and cheerfully took on my request to do a few more after yesterdays near disaster. I am so lucky to live where people are so genuine and hard working. I may have to start traveling with chocolates or something so I can hand out treats on my way to work.

A lovely day today, private schools are finished and already the roads have half the traffic. I don’t know why Australians feel they must drive their kids to school, but they obviously do. I was a neglectful parent who expected my latch key kid to cycle home at the end of the day and be cared for by dogs. He is a man now, but a gentleman who can have a conversation with a dog. I am very proud of him.

Another day, another roll to the dam tomorrow. Life passes too quickly when I am on my bike, I swear it takes 10 minutes to go to the dam (it actually takes me 40). It is just so nice to have the time to centre, to think, and to make the effort to turn the cranks in a perfect rhythm. My universe contracts to a point in space and time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

wet season

I like the wet season, but there are some downsides. The bikeway is a mess. I nearly lost control coming home because two oncoming mountain bike riders forced me to hold my line into a patch of inch deep soft sand. I guess they don't know that a road bike is a different beast altogether. I let out a yell as I fought to stay upright, and to my amazement I did stay upright. I was uber cautious for the rest of the ride. There is a lot of sediment washed onto the bikeway in several places. I stopped and got a number to call from one of the friendly council workers, so I will be on them tomorrow.

It is nice to be settling back into something approaching a normal routine. I am getting more rainmanish as time passes, and I just want to ride my daily route and listen to my ipod. I have had bike setup issues lately, and it is good to be able to make an adjustment, do the usual commute, feel the result and plan the next adjustment.

A decent run to the dam before work. Yes it is hot (I think it was 28 when I left at 7am) but I quite like it. I do have to drink more, and remind myself to drink all day too. Soon school will be out and the bikeways and roads will be more quiet. Summer bliss.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I have been married for a really long time to a really nice guy. We have always traveled a lot for work (him especially), so it is no surprise to find myself home without my best friend, and a bit bored. We had a huge thunderstorm about 4 am to 6 am and everything flooded (again), but with only one driver at home at least the logistics of getting to work sans bike was easy to work out.

Since I got home I got supper in the oven (if I don’t feel like cooking I make things in the oven), tidied around the place, felt the laundry on the line under the house (damp) and washed out the fridge out the back. With a toothbrush to get the fiddly bits. This is what happens when you have nobody to engage in debates about politics, global finances (and my crashing super fund) and the usual stuff of life.

We watched a television program a few weeks ago where a current Australian artist – Bill Leak – was painting a deceased Australian artist, Pro Hart. In an interview with his wife she revealed they had never spent a night apart, and BoaB and I both exclaimed “LUCKEEE!” at the same time. Well that pretty much sums up our relationship. Through years of oil rigs, fire fighting, study, conferences, teaching, volunteering, sports, there has always been home, and each other. Thank goodness we can cycle together.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nova Scotia

I have it on good authority that the Nova Scotia tourism people are trolling the internet for mentions of Nova Scotia. Well I am from Nova Scotia, and I intend to visit Nova Scotia next year (seeing as about 300 of my immediate relatives live there) and so I invite the Nova Scotia government to make me an offer I can't refuse. The offer should include this cycling kit:

I will be 50 next year, but I have taken very good care of my bum and I assure you it will look good with Nova Scotia written across it as above. A veritable ambassitor for good living in Canada's poor cousin of a province. Don't tell the rest of them we are replete with rum and lobster here, they will just want some too.

Actually, it is ironic that my bum got whipped into shape living in tropical Australia, because Nova Scotians all know that tropical living leads to decadance and decline, as one must suffer the cold to maintain good character. With this in mind I am now considering moving my visit to the old country ahead to late September/October, so I can see the fall colours and suffer a bit of cold. As I sit here in a lather of sweat from the effort of writing this blog entry, a bit of cold sounds pretty good. Did I mention that the air conditioner in on the fritz?

So I hope the Nova Scotian government not only finds this blog, but that they forgive me for taking the excellent Nova Scotian education I received in Nova Scotia (subsidized by them) and using it where people really appreciate it and pay accordingly.

See you in Nova Scotia in 2009. And I hope the Nova Scotian government come through with the cycling kit so I am not forced to buy the poor substitute that looks like this, but is from 'Old Scotia':

Sunday, November 30, 2008

get a life

I'm sorry, I promise to spend less time on the computer later. But this is so lovely I wanted to share it:

a link to the number one Muslim ladies bicycle club. If there are Muslim ladies in Townsville who want a cycling mentor, I am in!


My culture, or close enough anyway. Nothing like a good beer ad to put life in perspective.

uncultured in the antipodes

I used to think that cycling culture was a good thing, and that I was a part of cycling culture. I have a passion for cycling. I am president of my Uni BUG, and an active member of my City BUG, I serve on transport committees and work to design better maps and signage. I help to organize rides of silence, ride to work days, awareness rides.

But I have decided that cycling culture is not a good thing, so I am setting myself free of it all so I may continue to just be my unique self.

Why? Because I have had a blue with a Blog, and it has made me blue.

It used to live in my list of Blogs I liked, but by the time you read this it will be gone. It is because of this:

It is not a “cracking good read” It is a mean and nasty bit of work. “bicycling in Sweden is not about a bunch of environmentally aware yuppies working hard at being pleased with themselves. Bikes in Sweden are not conveyances for spandex-coated fashion plates wearing color-coordinated jerseys and (maybe) helmets.

And on it drivels. I took exception to this and made a comment. I was assured “i doubt very much that the writer was referring you personally. i doubt he even knows any of us personally.” Well der… so vilification of any identifiable group won’t be frowned upon because the statement referred to an unidentified individual, not the group. But the writer WAS talking about me, because I am all of the people he mentions. I ride my bike with environmental awareness, and I usually do it in lycra, and of course I am colour coordinated, give me a break I am a woman after all!

The piece also says some very cruel things about larger, older fellows on expensive bikes. Well, middle aged men with disposable income are going to buy toys. And bikes are the very best toys for them to buy because they will hopefully ignite a passion which will make those larger fellows a bit smaller, while filling their hearts with joy. This is a good thing.

“He is clearly miffed that cycling is so religiously dominated by sub-cultural groups when it could do so much good if it was mainstreamed, as it is in so many places in the world.”

Eh? Oh, sorry, this guy is from Copenhagen and probably doesn’t speak Canadian. I mean Say What? Or WTF? The meaning of this sentence is totally beyond my comprehension, so I guess that is proof I am not part of the Culture which is intimidated? Frightened? Disgusted? ….by people who ride with passion.

I have news for the purveyors of this “Culture”. Cycling isn’t a given outside of the hallowed confines of northern Europe. It takes people who are passionate enough, determined enough and NUTS enough to get out there day after day and be a presence on the roads. We are the ones who care about making cycling safe and accessible for everyone.

The statement “Getting the bike accepted once again as a cheap, effective means of transport by people with no interest in cycling is a tough goal to achieve. Elitism by many in the so called cycling community has not helped”

Could not be less true. Townsville’s elite cyclists, and I mean the real sports cyclists who can mix it up with the best, are founding members of BUGS, and can always be relied upon to show up for awareness rides and memorial rides. They are lovely, caring people and if others would get off their high horses long enough to say ‘G’day’ to those they perceive as elite they may be surprised by the quality of friendship they discover.

Nobody supports mainstream cycling more than existing cyclists. Even sports cyclists and filthy alternate hippy types like me. So just relax all you cultural Gurus, we’ll keep the passion alive and get cycling into the mainstream on our own. Like most things that take root and grow in Australia from a foreign seed, it might not turn out like you expected, it will be uniquely ours.

Parting shot for the anti lycra crowd – it is a delightful 33 degrees Celsius here today, and humidity is about 90 %. Lets go for a nice long ride shall we? Wear whatever you feel comfortable in of course!

Parting shot #2 – I hope the 13 years that have passed since the original piece was written has been kind to the author. Otherwise he may have woken up recently to find himself *gasp* middle aged, or *horrors* with a large butt! HA!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Enough with the rain already

Nature defeated us today, no bike riding so far. Here is what 130+ mm of rain looks like on a map:

map Here is what it looks like in your yard:


I just planted up the garden to the right, I hope things don't float out of the ground. And I hope some native plants like a good soaking once in awhile.

As I write it is after lunch, has stopped raining and is fairly cool (around 28 C). I am resisting riding though because parts of the bikeway will be flooded, and the roads are full of debris and drivers of cars who have no notion of 'driving to conditions'. There are always lots of fender benders when the roads are wet, and cyclists don't get to just walk away usually, so I am staying right out of it. I swear if it ever snowed in Queensland there wouldn't be a driver left alive, they just have no idea of how to ease up when the going gets slippery.

More of this in the forecast, and it isn't really the wet season yet!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

the perfect holiday

Those of us who are privileged to have a job that lets us travel and feed our minds, renew our energy and feed our passion have a funny take on holidays. Most people take a holiday and a trip, the two go together. Me and BoaB are taking a holiday and going nowhere, because we both like to be home together, but we don’t get enough time to do that.

So since we came back from Canberra last week, we have been getting up every day at 4:00 – 4:30, rolling out the door by 5:00 and getting home by 9:00. I have had to go to the uni a couple of times so I have gotten some extra mileage, but being on the road after 9 is hot as hell.

The perfect holiday. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat. I don’t usually roll so early, but this weather demands it. BoaB does it almost every day, and I honestly don’t know how he stays awake at work. I hit a wall by around 11am, and HAVE to have a nap, even if it is just 15 minutes of profound loss of consciousness. I am hoping for some serious kilometres this week, aiming for 400. This would be easy in winter, but in summer it is just so hard to beat the heat and squeeze those kms into a time before heat becomes an enemy to your poor body. And don’t think you can just roll after dark in the evening because it is still really hot right now – 7:30 in the evening, and we are actually using the air-conditioning. It is so humid that you drench with sweat from anything – I was dripping from making a stir-fry and BoaB took pity on me and closed up the house, flanged on the air con.

We are a bit Greenish, and don’t like to use it if we don’t have to, but gee it is nice to not be dripping on my keyboard right now. We can rely on the excellent construction of the house and sea breezes a lot, but when they fail it is nice to have an alternative. We have solar hot water and grow veggies as a salve to guilt. It is also really weird to have the house closed up. We are so used to life without barriers to the outside, all the french doors flung wide to passing butterflies and the shrieks of night creatures.

Tomorrow is the last week day of the holiday routine. We’ll ride around 45kms, including a spin along the seaside to Pallarenda before a coffee with friends, then doodle home for around a 55 total. If I go to the Uni (and I really shouldn’t) I will spin up 80. I am on track for the 400 by Sunday arvo. My legs are some tired though.

Had fantastic thunder storms today. I was still out and about of course, I went to Uni to visit my bank there. It started really bucketing and thundering while I was there, so I went to the gym for a half hour or so and managed to catch a clear run home, with another major storm almost as soon as I was safe of the verandah. So I have big plans for tomorrow, but mother nature may have big plans too. We’ll take it as it comes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

rain on the verandah

It is snowing on the 50k loop, and it is raining here! It is just a storm band and won't last, but there is the thrill of bright flashes of lightening, the birds are screeching, it smells delicious and the wind has come up all cool and fresh.

Big dog has retreated to the safety of a small room, leaving little dog puzzled. Summer is so lovely, and storm season is the best part. The oppressive buildup, the towering clouds, the crack and break of the storm.

The ride this morning was warm liquid air on your arms. Deep breaths that filled your lungs with rich soft smells. The sudden drench of sweat when you stopped pedaling and the breeze disappeared. Hair in twisting tendrils stuck to your neck. Summer. My season.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

i been busy

The burden of having a blog is keeping up with the posts when you are busy.

Actually, I have been more than busy. First I was busy, then I was nearly killed by food poisoning thanks to the caterers for the Postgraduate Research Conference – merci to Annabel’s CafĂ© in Annandale. Then, before I had a chance to recover from the kind of illness that renders you afraid to eat food that has been so much as peeled by a stranger, I had to get on an airplane and fly to Canberra.

Thank goodness I took BoaB with me to Canberra. It was a combination cycling and conference sort of trip. Sunday, I figured I had done really well to have survived the journey, and that was sufficient. Monday we decided to try a bit of cycling. I was decidedly off colour when we rolled, but the more we cycled the better I felt, so we stayed out all day. I have finally managed to get my set up back to something approaching comfortable so I really enjoyed the kms. Then I thought my seat was tilted a bit funny, then I thought it was loose, so we stopped to check it. I had lost the front bolt and the cylinder thing it screws into, so the front of my seat was basically floating free. Off we go to one of Canberra’s excellent bicycle shops and they did a temporary fix, but the part is a bit unique and it is not easy to put right. Back we go to the scene of the failure and many kms of bike path are combed. We finally found the bolt (easy to replace) but no sign of the cylinder thing. Doh. But at least we had a great day.

It was cool, maximum of 23 or so. This is a great treat for those of us who are already in the full heat of summer. I got a proper cyclists sunburn, with those sleeve marks that will last a year at least. I looked a bit naff in the fancy cap sleeved cocktail dress at the Spatial Excellence awards dinner, but I didn’t care. Just glad to be back to health and cycling.

No I didn’t win the national award. The lady who did was just super, we sat next to each other at dinner, and I would rather she had it anyway. Now I can relax, because really, how do you top winning the national award? What would I be expected to do next? This was a win for the status quo, and that is better for me. And congratulations to my old friend Mark Carniello who FINALLY had his emergency management GIS/web2 application win some recognition, but a couple of years too late!

The conference was excellent. Very top drawer stuff. I really enjoyed Ed Parsons’ talk. I have followed his blog for a fair while, and his view of the geospatial universe is exciting and inspiring. I also read blogs that disagree with Ed, and that makes the whole universe a more balanced place. I now have a lot of information to process, it was that sort of event. Current policy, innovation and future trends. It will take a few hundred kms to come up with a summary document.

Back up to Townsville today. You want hot, I’ll give you hot. Big build up this evening, but the thunderstorms have swept south of us, so we just stew in the humidity. 33 tomorrow, high humidity. I better get to bed, because cycling will have to be done really early, or not at all.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Big weekend

It was a big week, but the weekend was huge. Boab has the details up, so I can just get to the photos and stuff. Saturday was our usual early start for a coffee, then we rode home for hats and sunscreen, the back to the Strand for the big Nick Gate's race day. It was a beautiful day, summer has come on and it is bloomin' hot.

The guys were feeling the heat but it didn't seem to slow them down much, they set a good pace for the whole race. They got redder in the face as time went on, and a few dropped out. I had a hard time getting decent shots, so I took a bunch of short videos and I have yet to figure out how to frame grab from them, so here is a basic shot.
More later when I have a chance. It has been my experience that whenever I figure out a new thing, like grabbing frames, someone will come to me at work days after I have solved the problem and ask me to help them with the same problem, then be moved by my genius when I quickly and easily do so. So I will figure it out at the office so any new software is waiting there in anticipation. Anyhow, after the race there was a huge scrum at the finish line. BoaB was keen on getting his new fat Cyclist jersey some exposure with the celebs, so I reluctantly made my way into the worst of it. I have a small persons discomfort with close crowds, since I am who they usually stomp on.I didn't like our chances, but the big name riders were just super nice to all us star struck tragics, and I think they liked seeing a few people who actually rode in the heat to share the race experience.

Nick Gates, perennial domestique and all round super nice guy. Cycling is a team sport, there are no heros on the podium without heros along the course to take on the work. BoaB now has a jersey just like Nick's, but it may be harder for Nick to get one just like BoaB's. You can see the full roster of fame on Boab's blog about who was in attendance, but OMG!:

Cadel Evans, and his very pretty wife! Then she noticed the Fat Cyclist jersey and liked it, said she should get one for her father. Then Cadel noticed my bike and conversation about WSD ensued! I don't like snapping pictures of famous people much, I feel like I am taking a piece of their soul, but this was an invited one.

I am thrilled to death, which is why I am practically clutching my heart. Sorry I covered up the logo Fatty! So that was my big moment. We cycled back home after some more photos, for a respectable 70km or so day, sunburn kept to a minimum with heavy duty sun block.

Then we had to do some chores, scrub up, I had to get my hair done and out we went to the black tie dinner with all the luminaries. What a blast. I thought after the auction they would all skulk away, but the dance floor was filled with cyclings best boogie dancers (go BoaB!) including all the big guns and their partners. They looked to be having as much fun as the rest of us, maybe more. What a top time.

To more mundane things, I am nearly done putting my bike back the way it was. The new fit out/kit out has failed, back to square one. Hoping for a decent week, I am aiming for my first 300km in a while, and I promise to go to the gym twice too. I forgot to suck in my gut in that picture with Cadel, but I still look OK!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Changes to the ordinary

So I had my physical assessment today, after 25 hours of training over 5-6 weeks (I forget, seems like forever really). I am feeling a bit fat today, and this was proven by the 1 cm gain in my waist and hips. Hmmm. Luckily I am, after all, a woman, and we have tidal changes that rival Halls Harbour, so don’t panic yet.

Thigh measurement= bigger, biceps, I didn’t take note. Weight, up a kilo (154). % body fat, down over 1% - now we are talking! Endurance on the stationary bike, way better! Up to the maximum setting for resistance the students are allowed to use for females, and I just edged over 140 in 7 minutes at 60 rpm. Sweet.

So I am measurably stronger, fitter and , in theory, leaner. I figure I have grown a pot due to lack of mileage, but now I will have time to ramp that back up (174 kms last week, pathetic). So off to the dam tomorrow before work, and try not to eat every hour on the hour all day.

There is a trick to the bike ride tomorrow though. I went to the bike shop this morning, and got refitted on the bike. Big changes, new harder and narrower seat, set lower and further back, and the cleats on my shoes have been moved forward. It doesn’t feel like my bike anymore, so we need to re-bond tomorrow. I hope we do, I love that bike and I want to feel the magic we once had, but which has been lost to poor seat set-up and dead hands as a result. It used to be magic.

So I rode home on a new seat, in shorts, no nix, and it was a bit uncomfortable! BoaB had dropped into the shop (as you do) and paid my bill, so when I got there is was just ‘here you go and let us know what you think’. How much was the seat I asked BoaB. Not cheap he replied. Ah well, I don’t much care. Our last car payment was in 2003 or 4, and I will never want a car of my own again. Seats cost nothing really. A few tanks of gas? Rego? Insurance? Nothing.

So tomorrow will be an ordinary day, but with a difference. Hope it is a good one.

Oh, and the Melbourne cup? I foolishly gambled my 3 dollars bus money on horses which may still be out wandering the back 40, so I had to dig deep in forgotten corners for loose change in order to get to the bike shop. there is a lesson there I am sure...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

peaceful weekend

I am nearly at the end of my training, and suffering from a pretty classic case of over training. The weather is perfect for sitting around though, windy and cool in the house, it would be windy as hell cycling.

Since I cycle all the time I am over feeling guilty if I have to take a few days off. My legs were sending me warning messages all Friday evening as I stood around at a party. Cramps, aches, tiredness… Saturday they were actually swollen a bit. Thank heavens it isn’t too hot yet for compression tights, they are a wonder. BoaB rolled early this morning on a long run (around 100km) but I don’t think I am up for that yet. I think I am stronger than I was 6 weeks ago, but the gym time has eaten into my cycling time so I am going to have to rebuild endurance over the next few weeks.

I finally managed to arrange things so I could get to the dam on Thursday. I struggled a bit, but it was worth it to fly up the wall at the end. Easiest ever, even with my gears completely out of sorts. I need to have a bike service pretty badly.

It isn't that my bike isn't well maintained, quite the opposite. For you girls who wonder what love looks like after 27 years of marrage, here is BoaB, doing a pro wash and lube on a weekend afternoon. My bike just has a lot of wear and tear, the roads are rough and the miles are many.
I have my seat out of kilter so it isn’t comfy and I can’t seem to fix it, and my gears are a mess. I will take my baby in on Tuesday for a fix up, I guess I am doomed to a bus trip to the Uni. At least I work at a ‘major destination’ that has lots of buses running to it.

Tuesday afternoon is my final physical assessment. Always interesting those things, worth giving up the Melbourne Cup for! I don’t expect the big gains I saw last year because I started out much fitter than last year, so we will see. It is all in good fun and the spirit of supporting students.

Monday, October 27, 2008

all and nothing

Summer must be nearly here, I am savaged by mozzies while sitting here at the computer. You don’t see them but suddenly you are welt city.

Anyway, I have been really, really busy. Make yourself ill with stress busy, but a conference for over 100 spatial scientists is finished and I can breathe again. If you didn’t have a day job this stuff would be a doodle, but work is so full on, and everything else is extra.

140 ish kms last week. The true measure of disaster and over-commitment. I can’t recall the last time I was actually in town all week and did so few kms. No wonder I was sick all week. I have to do a lot of gym sessions this week – every morning bright and early, but when the gym training is over I am just going to ride and ride until I can’t ride any more. I need the miles under my wheels like a balm for my soul. I need the time. Actually I am wrong – I need the disconnect with time that comes with cycling in the groove along familiar roads. I need to nurture the rainman by passing over those familiar training roads again and again. I need a century, and a nice coffee, and an afternoon nap.

I promised myself a cycle this afternoon, but of course I couldn’t stop working and suddenly it was the end of the day. Soon…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spring reflections

Spring lingers. It is really nice, big winds are whipping the branches and flapping the wall hanging behind me. We are very lucky to have a well designed house for the tropics. It is a high house, so it is like living on the second story with nothing underneath. This is great if you have a lot of bikes and associated ‘stuff’. Under the house is always cool and dim, and a great place to putter away days that are too hot for gardening. The high living area catches every breeze and is wide open to shady verandahs. Birds occasionally fly though. Insects are a part of life. I love it when we have company and a huge rhinoceros beetle joins us.

Morning cycling could not be better. It is not too cool, not to warm. Absolutely perfect. The wind has been a bit challenging, but I like that. There is always going to be a stretch with the wind at your back, so it is worth struggling on. I had a seminar to attend in the city on Friday morning. Very interesting sustainability talks, looking at Cuba as a case study for post peak oil and post economic meltdown. They have been there and done what the rest of us are denying will ever happen. Typically I was the only attendee to rack up on a bike. Bloody subversive. I did some powerful schmoozing and secured a signed promise for a CBD ride to work day breakfast for 2009. Yay!

Heading towards home I had wind tunnel conditions to the port, then the turn for my inland suburb and I just flew. I don’t often get to hold a few kms of 37 km/hr. What a joy. People must think I am insane because I grin with delight so often when I am cycling. You don’t see too many people driving cars who look like they are having the time of their lives, but drivers will talk to me at red lights to find out what I am up too. “…are you training?” Yes I answer, I am training to get faster and go further. “why?” Because I can.

I have stashed the camera in some secure but not obvious location, so I will have to put up some Ride to Work day images tomorrow. James Cook University had 70 registrants, with nearly 40 of those showing up for breakfast. The Pro Vice Chancellor Research, Andy Vann, shouted breakfast. He actually showed up on his bike and joined in. I sheepishly handed him a breakfast voucher. It was green, and sported a picture of him I had nicked from a web page. I really didn’t expect senior management to show up. He took it in very good humour.

So the next big thing is the Spatial Science Institute conference I am organizing for Friday. Then I can finalise a major mapping project and start the next one. I have a trainee arriving from Germany ‘soon’, but she hasn’t told me when. And I have 3 more weeks of intense physical training. I am getting stronger! My time around the loop (3 km) is down to 5 minutes, 31 seconds. I am hoping to shave off 5 more seconds this week. But if the wind holds up, I am doomed.

Here’s to a full life. Work is nuts, but all I am worried about is cycling. Priorities and all that.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

breakin the rules

The Fat Cyclist (who, of course, I revere) said recently that you should never blog about other blogs. And I wouldn’t usually, but today Nicole (my trainer) asked me “if I could meet anyone, who would it be” We were in the gym, and morning TV had just dissected the life of some celebrity, so I suppose I was supposed to come up with a suitably famous person, but I don’t watch TV much, and I don’t do movies. So the people of influence in my sheltered life are bloggers.

I said “that’s a hard one, and you wouldn’t want to waste that wish on just anybody”. It would have to be somebody who, if you found yourself next to them on a flight from Sydney to Vancouver, wouldn’t bore the shit out of you. I had a think. I figure I will actually get to meet Bluenoser in NS next year, so he is covered. I don’t know if I could hold up my end of the conversation with someone as fabulously intellectual as Bikesnob. I chose the Large Fella on a bike, because I admire him for his cycling passion.

Now you are supposed to admire the Large Fella because he has lost an incredible amount of weight, and I do. But along his difficult journey he found cycling to be his hearts delight, and he found out that he is much stronger, physically, than he thought, and he has pursued that journey to fitness and strength with such vigor and amazement.

Even though I am a ‘Small Woman on a Bike’ I really relate to his journey, because I have discovered that I have unsuspected physical strength through my passion for cycling, and we have been ‘serious’ about cycling for a similar time. But his journey has been way more amazing than mine.

I also admire that he has given up the car. We have talked about it, we are thinking of it, but I just don’t know if we can do it. I figure our current car (a 2000 model, bought new) will have to die to force the transition. But I am seriously moved by the beauty of the Surly Big Dummy.

So here is to one of my blogging heroes, and his lovely family. I am sorry things are not easy for them right now, and I wish them well, and future happiness.

Keep ridin’ - Always

goin’ OK

Had a cycling session with my sports medicine student this morning. We agreed to start at 6:50, and I phaffed about this morning and left late and had to go like stink to be on time. I made it one minute late and we got started. A nice stretching session, then helmet back on and a time trial around the uni loop. 3 km exactly (well close enough) with an elevation change of about 8 – 10 metres from top to bottom. I really must check my topo data tomorrow.

Anyway, off I go and I am feeling pretty good. Nice and fast (broke 40) past my building, but I have used all my gears and I should be able to go faster than that. Up to the top of the loop and around for the long ‘decent’ to the finish, slowing steadily cause my legs have had it. Then a spin lap to recover. Nearly 10 seconds off my PB, not too bad.

Summer is settling in and it is warm in the mornings, really humid already. The dehumidifier in the map library is working like mad, I need to empty it twice a day now, later it will need a visit at lunch time too.

Ride to Work Day is a National event, and I am coordinating the University as a participant. A good roll up to yesterdays final prep meeting, hopefully enough volunteers. We are doing demos of basic bike maintenance. I expect to get through a big bottle of chain lube, you can hear most bikes on campus before you can see them.

Should be a fun day.

Monday, October 6, 2008

best laid plans

We packed it up Friday and headed to Paluma. I had been cycling easy all week in preparation for a big effort. We arrived in pouring rain, hey it is the rainforest. Put the tent up in the undercover area, cooked dinner, had a few wines, friends rolled up, early to bed for a big ride in the morning.

And it rained, hard, all night. Now Townsville is in a rain shadow, so we don’t get a lot of the stuff. So I can’t sleep when it is raining, it seems too – significant – somehow. In the morning it was raining and everyone was just enjoying the morning. Second cups of coffee, healthy breakfasts. More rain.

Mid morning it suddenly cleared and since we were out on the other side of the campground walking around, it seemed sensible to just keep walking. We went the 3 or 4 kms to Benham’s Creek with me lamenting we were not on our bikes, but it was good. The problem was the others brought road bikes, with the intention of going down, then back up the range (40 kms of struggle in my opinion) where as BoaB and I had brought mountain bike with the intention of getting really dirty.

Then the rain closed in and the cycling trip turned into a camping trip.

It was nice. But then I finally had to break ranks and go for a burn. It was just excellent. I have gained a lot of confidence in the last year, the MTB “chicks at speed” bike handling course helped a lot with that. So I had a fabulous burn with some very labored soft muddy hill climbs (ok, I had to push a bike a few times), but it was excellent. And at least I got my hard tail good and dirty on what is probably its last run. Yep, the 2009 Myka is in the shop, built and ready to go. BOAB has actually seen it. Can’t wait to get it dirty, we may have to travel back up the range.

Friday, October 3, 2008

comin' good

After a determined rest week and one weight session on Thursday I am coming good at last. I had a fast run today, lots of gusty wind in every direction it seemed. 36.5 km/hr at the top of Angus Smith drive. This is my daily test up a very shallow hill and that is a good speed. Back at the full on training Tuesday, but at least now I know it won't slow me down forever. And really, I am only racing myself.

This BLOG isn't called cycling paradise for nothing, I really do love it here. This weekend (any minute actually) BoaB and I will be heading up to Paluma. A magic mix of rainforest, dirt roads (no single track for me thanks) down through magnificent eucalyptus grandis forest to dry cattle country. Then a hard old slog back up to Paluma, at the top of the range.

Good food, friends, bubbly wine and the sounds of the rainforest. It might even be muddy and wet.

Got to go pack the camera!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


When I turned forty I made a pact with myself. I would no longer suffer fools, and I would no longer wait for others to do what I thought was needful. Well I turned forty a long time ago, and so I am getting really good at being a bitch (that would be the not suffering fools bit) and being an advocate.

The bitchy part is actually fun, because in my heart I am a nice and helpful person, but honestly, some people just need a slap and some good advice (not necessarily in that order). The Advocacy part is hard, because it requires work and commitment, and you can’t control the wins and losses, you can only hope to influence.

So today I spammed all the cyclists I can spam (and it is a fair few) to please submit comment to a proposed redevelopment of our CBD that must have been drafted by a one eyed troll who has been living in a burnt out Hummer in the rainforest. Yes we have Hummers in our rainforests, but that is another story.

They want to ‘redevelop’ a mall, closed to traffic, with your basic two way traffic, flowing past parallel parking. This would allow cyclists to be simultaneously crowded, yelled at and doored, where once they just had to dodge surly drunks.

And of course I drafted and submitted my own comment, because you really must have a say. I also asked to join the community consultation group. Sometimes I wonder about the time warp that is Queensland. I swear this looks like city planning in the early 70’s. What on earth are they teaching planners (my office is next to the director of planning, I must ask him).

But I remain hopeful, because hope, for me, springs eternal.

Monday, September 29, 2008

a busy life

I expect that when bloggers go quiet the world thinks we are sleeping, if only it were so. It was a busy but fruitful week last week. I got my School at the Uni to underwrite the JCU BUG messenger bags I wanted for O-week. The final program of speakers for the (my) Spatial Sciences Institute conference end of October is coming together well, I got a commitment and date for the Australian Map Conference in March which I seem to be co-organizing in Brisbane, The APEX Awareness ride all came pretty good on Sunday, Ride to work day is getting there with registrations and prizes….and I did a heap of cartography too!

People exclaim “you are so busy!” to which I can only reply “well if I wasn’t, I’d be looking for something to do.”

Speaking of busy people, one of our brightest and best left JCU Friday. There was a nice send off, with gifts. Carl started the JCU BUG before cycling was fashionable, and has had many successes as an advocate for cycling. Now that cycling is very much on the radar and it is all too easy he has passed the baton to me! So thanks for the BUG Carl. I will nurture it and do all I can, but you are the one who did all the hard yards.
Carl wouldn’t be caught dead in lycra, so there was much mirth at the gift giving.

I slid into the weekend a bit weary, what with my enthusiastic trainer and my own manic agenda, but I learned to take it easy. Saturday morning we headed out as usual for the coffee run, BoaB flatted, so ‘us girls’ did a slow spin along the route knowing the boys would catch us. Catch us! They blew by, I stood up and stuck on, then …. Nothing. I could hardly make my legs go around. So I rolled up a few minutes later. I am starting to learn my body’s limits. I can’t be superwoman every day, well, not this week.

The usual Coffee Shop is engaged in my favorite pastime - civil disobedience! They asked the City Council a while back for bike racks, but they were knocked back. So the owner has purchased these beaut racks which appear about 6:30 am and have vanished by 9:00. What a great guy, he has won our loyal trade, which is a good thing because a rival “big chain” coffee shop is going to open up next door to his independent one. I will stick with my usual thanks.

And here is a shot for my sister. Sorry Carol, facebook seems to be broken for now, but I will try later. Here is Rusty helping in the marigod bed, which has really come on and should see the end n the nematodes. Can you believe how big the grass is already, good thing it is in a pot!
So after a weekend of gardening, scrubbing walls, packing up books for the new bookcases, cooking, cleaning - I took a full rest day today. My poor sad bike hung on a rack all day, oiled up and ready to go, but going nowhere.

It is almost impossible for me to take a full rest day, but I did today. I'll be better for it tomorrow. And so happy to be back on my bike.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

how to have a rest day

… whilst still riding one’s bicycle.

1) enjoy 2 cups of coffee. That’s right, read another blog and relax, because it is a rest day and you don’t have to hurry out the door to rest.
2) listen to slow music while you ride. I recommend the soundtrack from the 3rd LOTR – the most slow and sonorous of the lot.
3) leave home late. This forces you to take the direct route to work, not the long, fast, fun route.
4) do not catch and pass other cyclists; well, not unless they are totally lame.

And so it is possible to ride one’s bike to work and not arrive in a lather. But it is not nearly as fun. Looking forward to an effortful day tomorrow.

rest day

The training has been going really well, I still managed to get 257 kms around trips to the gym and the required recovery times last week. Starting up gym sessions is always gratifying because the gains are rapid over the first weeks, so you do feel encouraged, if a bit tired.

I also did a base time trial around the Uni loop so we can see if all of this translates into speed over the next six weeks. It is only a 3km circuit, but done at full bore leaves me pretty breathless. It was a still day, so I was pretty fast, and I know that a windy day will add a lot to my time, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the numbers add up.

My trainer ‘suggested’ I take a rest day today, which is why I finally have time to get a blog entry in. I can’t take a day off the bike, I do commute on it, but I will doodle in the short way (around 6 kms). I might as well leave home showered and in work clothes ‘cause I won’t break a sweat. This will be my only small ride this week, since we have an awareness ride on Sunday that will clock about 70kms on my week – and Sunday is my usual rest day.

Well that’s it for now, I need to get busy investigating – booking a trip to Adelaide to see Lance in the Tour Downunder. There is no way we are going to miss that!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

compression everything

I had my first gym session with the personal trainer/sports medicine student today. Holy crap. I am less lame than I expected, but if I had a compression body suit I would be wearing it. Nice to know that there are some young people who don't take one look at grey hair and think "we'll have to go easy here".

So I have had two top rides to the dam this week (my 50 k loop), the usual 30km commute and an hour with a personal drill sergeant. After the weekends big ride I am content. It looks like the training will be cutting into my cycle time, so I will have to give away the 300km weeks for a while. But I know the gym is harder. I have negotiated a long cycle day on Tuesdays, so I will do all I am able that day and the weekends.

As of today I find myself the President of my University BUG, so look out world. It is all happening.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Paradise lost

Well we had a top weekend of cycling, eating, drinking, drinking, oh and we cycled too. All in support of a couple of dear friends competing in the Whitsundays triathlon. Now the Whitsundays are famous for their beauty, and I was looking forward to the weekend. The drive south was really interesting. As a geographic/botanic enthusiast I saw fabulous landscapes and plant communities that were a revelation. And I was surprised as we turned towards the coast and Airlie Beach that rainforest was evident.
Then I was horrified by Airile Beach. In much the same way as I was taken aback by my first and only vist to Old Orchard beach in Maine. I can forgive the Americans for developing the hell out of Old Orchard, because it happened from the 20’s, when we didn’t know any better, but they are rampantly developing Airlie NOW. But there were good bits too. Signs like this made the Saturday 50+ loop very nice. The drivers were the most courteous I have met in Queensland. There was a lot of very scary truck traffic, I may have screamed once or twice, but the ride was excellent. I was as fast as I have ever been. I have a problem with my rear wheel, so I was running on the wheels that came with BoaB’s Specialized Tarmac. Well! I won’t be giving those back without a fight! Lovely rolling country, I am better at hills than I expected.The locals were very cute, the ocean was the most amazing colour, and we all cycled well, arrived safe, and enjoyed each others company. Here are Boab and be glad to be alive after a run down the highway. Notice the "please don't kill me" vest I am wearing despite the heat.

Don't have the results of the race yet, but I suspect Viv placed very well, and Kaye wasn't too shabby either. I am not going to become a triathlete, but enjoying the race festival I can appreciate the community it provides. Good thing I swim like a stone.

So now we are home and I have been too busy cooking to blog. We drove home through Bowen, which is a centre for tomatoes, peppers and other produce. I couldn't resist some big boxes of tomatoes, peppers, bags of zuccini and eggplant. So I am in a Canadian style thrall of chopping, cooking and freezing the harvest. Summer is coming, and food actually gets expensive then, but I am ready with Spring's bounty. It takes some getting used to, this topsy turvy Aussie life, but it is good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

cycling fit

So I had my physical assessment done today, as the beginning of my 6 week odyssey with a Sports Medicine student. She is so young and fit and keen that she makes me keen too to do my best for her.

I had to get a lift to work in the CAR this morning because a combination of meetings meant I had to leave my bike at the office, so I arrive at the uni in a disoriented state but really early to accommodate my spouse’s schedule. No worries, I have lots to do.

I arrive for my 8:30 assessment and away we go. Fill out forms, get weighed and measured, BMI calculated (I am in awesome shape for an old fart). Then the TEST. On the bike, a stationary bike, but a BIKE. My trainer is writing notes, getting her gear ready, and I am wearing a heart monitor. So I just sit on the bike for a minute or two while we get ready, and my heart rate climbs from 60 to almost 100. Just the excitement – the anticipation of making the pedals go round. I can feel my heart beating, my legs are quivering. What is this disease called cycling?

Did I pass or fail? I failed to get my heart rate over 140. So I passed the very fit test I suppose. I start training on Wednesday. I will try not to attack too hard too soon, but I am keen as.

Off to the Whitsundays tomorrow for a well earned cycling party. There will be hills, and incredible beaches, and lots of wine and good friends. I promise pictures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

nothin' goin' on

Fatty tells us that you shouldn't blog if there is nothing to blog about but really, if you read blogs you will find that many of the most elegant blogs are blogs about nothing. At least I have accomplished the "don't blog too often" criteria.

Life, if you are lucky, is pretty dull. And that is a good thing. When I get the chance I intend to take some pictures of the garden and post them for my sister, who recently visited and will be startled and amazed at how the citrus she planted has come on. How some seeds sprinkled on dirt have turned into a garden of marigolds in 4 weeks. This is the stuff of life and is nothing, but worth blogging about.

I enjoy reading about other people loving being cyclists. Cycling culture is an involving thing. It is liberation from the ordinary. An alternate lifestyle that rewards your misbehaviour (have another helping of pasta) with steely muscles and a slim profile. It is more than transport, transends recreation, brushes addiction.

I am ... because I cycle

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

defining normal

I had a normal day today. Well for most people. I had so much to do in so little time ( buy morning tea for the office, get it there, do a mound of work, arrange to have morning tea laid on because you are teaching, attend a meeting…) you get the drill. So I drove a car to work today.

When you get to the office at 7:30 there are lots of free spaces, but everyone complains there are not enough because they come later. There are actually more parking spaces than cars at the uni, but many are not paved, and they are a bit of a walk, so they sit empty all day, while drivers grouse that we need to build more – paved – parking spaces, nearer the buildings (where there are currently trees).

So I went to work and did all I could and at 4:00 I was knackered (that is Aussie for really tired). Now I don’t usually get tired no matter how long I work because I have cycled 40 minutes to an hour and a half before I start, but I didn’t do that today, so I was knackered at 4:00. So I packed it up and left. And there was as close to gridlock as you get in the big country town called Townsville because HEAPS of people are leaving at 4:00, although I didn’t see anybody else arriving at 7:30 so go figure.

So I drove in traffic and did the rat run through back streets to avoid the lights (as you do) and got home really early for me and watered the garden and it was good. But it wasn’t really normal. I simply cannot understand why people think I am odd because I choose active transport over one car/one person.

I didn’t have one ‘g’day’ all day. No commuter interaction. I wonder if the guy who walks two amazingly well trained sheep dogs missed me. Or the girl who burns along on her mountain bike and always gives me a big grin – did she wonder why I wasn’t there? And the nice couple who stroll every evening, and never respond when I say “good evening” – was tonight the night? I’ll be glad to get normal tomorrow.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


It has arrived, with a flick of the switch, it is Spring in the tropics and it isn't cold anymore. If Spring had been this reliable in Canada I might have stuck it out. So now I can get up and head out in my pretty cycling clothes instead of my warm ones. A plea to manufacturers of cycling wear, please make winter clothes in colours other than black. I do have a lilac winter jacket, but I am sick of wearing it all the time.

I had a pretty good week. Back at work after a 3 week absence, the previous week was difficult. I thought “thank God you are here” was a comedy sketch show. Friday was so fraught with system failure that I literally turned my back. It was supposed to be my day off, but I was at work as usual. Universities are a labour of love after all. But when it all went terribly wrong I put on my kit, filled up my water bottle, and headed out to the dam. Damn! I FLEW out to the dam. I thought I was something, record speeds falling at every milestone. Then I turned around to head back. Ahhh… the mother of all tailwinds was now a headwind. Well you get that.

But Saturdays ride was a fast one, and I stayed at the head of the group. So with the road race season officially over today I now think I am fast enough to consider racing. Keen timing.

The good news is I have til March to train my guts out. I am starting with a personal trainer tomorrow. A Uni perk is the need for volunteers to act as clients to Sports Medicine students, and this will be my second year. It is great fun and I advanced by leaps and bounds last year, so I have high hopes for this year. I am feeling keen and motivated, so I hope to get a big step up this time too.

I had a need to bond with my home today, so I didn’t do a wee ride and am at 276 for the week. Shameful really, but geeze are my drawers tidy! Women find contentment in strange places.
A note, I couldn't resist taking a shot of my Fat Cyclist jersey against the pink of spring. I don't know Susan Nelson personally, but she is in my thoughts often as I celebrate the strength with which I ride. WIN Susan.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

stopping by the river on a winters evening

Winter will soon give way to spring, the signs are all there. I won’t miss cold rides, especially cold early starts. But winter has a great beauty here. The sky is much bluer, and the dry season gives us the kaki and rust that I love. Corellas gather in big flocks near the river in the evenings, and it is impossible not to stop and admire their antics.

We had one day where the winds went soft and warm last week, then the direction changed and the breeze returned to fresh and cool. But the soft hand of summer will return.

Friday, August 15, 2008

playing catch up

To my legions of fans, sorry I have been away. I got back from Cairns and got some good rides in over the weekend, but I realize now that I was utterly spent. Lucky for me my sister from Nova Scotia arrived on Sunday for the final leg of her visit, and I was forced to do some down time. I really needed it.

We did therapeutic shopping. I don’t usually find shopping anything but horrible, but it is great fun in the right company. And it was the sort of shopping I have been putting off for years, the final bits of furniture and rugs. So that is all sorted – hopefully for decades.

Then we bought a few plants, and had a couple of days of just puttering in the garden. Making things tidy, and artfully arranging plants and pots and stones. I planted flower seeds and repotted some things. Fertilised shrubs. A bit of pruning. Lots of tea breaks.

My only regret is that our time together doing nothing much was so short. It is the best kind of catch up you can have, and I would have loved another week of it, but we have busy lives and we have both taken a chunk of time off work and need to get back. And that is sad because we really get along fabulously and should get together more often.

I’ll be heading to NS next summer, and I hope we get some downtime in her garden. It is the best place to rest, recover and catch up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

i'm away

I want to go home. I want to go for a ride. I want to sleep in my own bed with my spouse.

Luckily I am doing what I love. Detail. Niggling, fine, fiddly cartographic detail. Thousands of elements on tens of layers, all woven into thematic meaning. A power pole at every change of direction of the line. Symbols precisely placed. Annotation sitting free of encumbrance from lines. Tiny stuff that matters if you want perfect, and perfect is the only option. I finish the day with my eyeballs scratchy from concentration. That groove between my eyebrows is now a furrow. I love my work.

2 days til home, I want to go for a ride. *sigh*

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

first century

OK, it is a metric century, but who cares about miles any more.

And if I had gone straight up instead of doodling around Townsville all day, I would have really gotten someplace. (actually, this satellite is only 65 km up, but you get my drift).

A perfect winter day, I swear I am not even sweaty! Georgeous blue skies, no wind to speak of and a day to cycle. Who wouldn't want to do a 100 km day under such conditions. I am surprised that I feel great, nothing hurts, and I would head out the door and go some more if that wasn't just obsessive/complusive.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Irreconcilable differences

I gave back the Myka. I wasn’t planning to, but I was in the bike shop the other day and the owner asked me how I was enjoying the bike, and I had to confess that I had only ridden it once and had suffered a crisis of confidence because I felt it was too big for me. “Bring it back, we want you to be happy with your bikes”. So BOAB washed it so it was perfect again and we drove it (drove it!) to the shop.

Now people ask me all the time about buying a bike, and my advice is always the same. Find a bikeshop you like and buy a bike from them. All good bikes are just that, and the prices and ranges are pretty similar, but your relationship with the proprietor and staff is priceless.

I really like three of the current bike shops, but Top Brand Cycles was the best (for me) of the lot a few years ago and I am a loyal customer. And now my loyalty will pay off with a 2009 model Specialized WSD mountain bike which Mike saw on his last industry trip and recognized as being much more my size, as in “lower to the ground”. So I am happy and relieved, because I felt really guilty about failing to bond with the new bike. Now it can go live with a taller and/or braver lady who will ride it lots, and I will refrain from tricking out the old hard tail with “utility bits” until I have a new trail rider.

A very happy 55+kms today. I wish I had more hours to ride. I could get some serious time in from 5 am til 9 I suppose, but it is so cold right now it is hard to get going. And this morning the winds were gusting to 35kms/hr and we stayed in bed. Tomorrow should be better (I hope!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

happy holidays

Sunday already. After a gloomy week we have had some top days. Got in some good kms Friday, Saturday and today, for a weekly total of about 200 kms. Estimated only because the hardtail MTB trippy quit in the rain.

Friday I had to make a run into the city for the launch of an upcoming bicyle rally as part of our local cultural fest. gave several interviews and just enjoyed the day. It is interesting that the cultural fest organisers are including 'cycling culture' into what is normally more of an ethnic celebration. I am looking forward to promoting it and hopefully lots of familys will come and enjoy a short and gentle ride as the opening of the festival parade.

A good run for coffee Saturday, a small group as many are riding to Cairns to raise money for cancer research. And a top spin to the dam this morning. I went as hard as I could so BoaB wouldn't be bored, but I really can't cut it.

So tomorrow is a fresh, cold, sunny week of possibilities since we are both taking leave while my sister visits from the old country. And she has been warned that we intend to ride as must as possible, but we will do it early.

so to bed...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Proper winter

It is over. The rain has cleared, and the sun actually came out this afternoon. It is bad enough that winter is cold (well, relatively speaking) but when it is cold and wet the good citizens of Townsville hardly know what to do with themselves. It was still fresh, windy as anything and cloudy when I came home from work, but I was moved to take the long way home and it was really lovely. I don't recall ever seeing the Weirs running in winter. Delightful.
Angus Smith Drive has become a sea of potholes from 2 days rain. Who builds these roads and to what standards? I was on my hard tail mountain bike, so what the hey, but it was a bit un-nerving to see motorists become airborn because they absolutely had to drive the 80km/hr limit. What complete idiots. I must get onto the council about that speed limit.
And the sun broke through, as I turned towards home the wind was less in my face (it is seldom fully at my back) and it was all good. I got home with enough daylight to spare to wash the road bike and the hard tail, and clean and grease up the chains. Tomorrow should be a cold start, but a sunny day. I have to get to a meeting in the city, so I should be able to get a good total for the day.
Next week boab and I are on leave from work, and we are both wiggling our eyebrows at each other with plans to RIDE. My sister is visiting from Nova Scotia, so she gets the car and we will meet her at the tourist spots. I may even take my first run up the Paluma range... the mind boggles at the possibilities.