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.