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.