Monday, June 30, 2008

doing my duty

I gardened today when I meant to be cycling. But I could't bear the mess, and Scott is sick as a dog, so I conspired to keep him off his bike by staying off mine. And we had a pretty productive day of clearing slash and mulching beds. I had almost forgotten that I love gardening as much as I love cycling, but the jungle had closed in to the point where you couldn't garden - so I am starting to see the benefit of the tree pruning/removal. I actually wanted to visit a nursery and look at plants, but the day was too short.

I have to work away all week, so no cycling :(

Probably around 200 kms last week, there is no trippy on the new Myka yet, and I had a busy week.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

garden avoidance

The garden is an absolute tip, and it was (is!) the responsibility of the tree lopper dude to at least leave it tidy, if destroyed. If I stay home I'll get stuck into it, but luckily I have to bond with my new bike.

Slept in late - hey if they didn't use me at yesterdays races why would they expect me to show up again for todays? Puttered around and on the road by 9am for a bit of a bonding session. Headed to bald Rock but I chickened out at the site of last weeks crash. I was clipped on and just lost my nerve. So we made our way back home, with a few stops, home by 2pm.

Now I don't know about you, but time doesn't factor into riding for me. yes I was a bit tired, pushing mega tires is hard work. And I realised when I got home I was starving too! But I would have sworn we were gone for a couple of hours, never five. Go figure.

So I put my trusty flat pedals on the bike, tweeked the seat forward (I wasn't without tingling in the hands) and tomorrow we do the same run again. It is "Show Day" - a holiday to celebrate what was once the Agricultural Exhibition in Townsville. Right. These people have obviously never been to a real Agricultural Exhibition. I grew up going to the one in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the oldest (and best!) in North America. Humph.

Tomorrow will be better spent riding.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

been there, done that

Got up this morning, rode 35km for a coffee, caught up with my friends (I was going to say 'cycling friends' but I realised that I only have one sort) and then came home, showered, changed, bought vegetables from the side of the road truck guy, and then picked up a new Specialized Myka mountain bike.

Just wanted to have a Fat Cyclist moment there.

Actually it was very exciting to go to the bike shop and finally get a leg over a size small soft tail - women specific. And it just felt lovely. No time to ride it today. I was asked to please work the Ernie Yates memorial road race this afternoon, so I rushed around and dutifully showed up well before the start - and they didn't need me, hand no idea who I was (no surprise there) - so I could just relax.

Scott was supposed to race, but he is laid low with a cold, so we just opened the back hatch of the car, made ourselves comfortable, and watched the start of the race. Then, assuming 40km / hr average over 40km - we had an hour to kill for the finish. I had a serious kip - hey we were up at 4:45! Dark clouds moved over head, interspersed with moments of intense heat as the tropical sun found an opening. Parrots screeched. The occasional road train thundered past.

And then it was on! A big pack headed for the finish, cries of anguish as the sprint rushes past - and a winner!! I love road racing.

Mountain bike to Bald Rock tomorrow. We'll see if I can come home unscathed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

why?

People ask me all the time why I cycle so much, and there are many answers. But the line between transport and obsession is drawn in components and bike fit. You get up in the morning and draw on the lycra without thinking. It is just how you start the day. And then you get on your bike, and it just fits. Having the right machine, the right size and carefully fitted for you alone makes you fly. And then you clip onto your pedals and you are one with the machine - you are the heart of the machine - and the cadence and the big ring just power you along. Heart beating, wind whistling in your ears.

Some days you just want to head down the road and go as fast and as far as you can. But there are meetings to attend, and deadlines looming, so you turn towards work and do your duty. But your heart yearns...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Environmental vandalism

Today I rode my bike to work, ate leftovers, trained youth, started a local BUG. Just a busy proactive citizen of the world. Oh, and I paid a fortune to totally trash my yard.

I didn't know that when I came home yesterday to find my yard in ruins I should shout OK - STOP NOW! to the tree loppers. So they came back today and carried on. The pruning has crossed over to destruction, and my neighbours must hate me. I am a bit sad, but demanding 'put it back' is not an option now.

Luckily this is the tropics, and time will (quickly) heal all vegetative wounds. But MY GOD it is a desperate sight in my backyard. Gaia forgive me, I meant well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No carbon credits for me!

I had a very NOT green day today. We decided to bite the bullet and finally get the tree loppers in. We have being talking about it for years but kept putting it off. The final straw was a bamboo that was "not as promised" and was shading a vast area, which had turned to dirt, which was riding in on the dogs daily. So today we had removed: a goodly sized mango tree, the @#$&! bamboo and had the giant and ancient Poinciana pruned well back. My yard is at the “tribute to Beirut” stage. I am shocked but I know it will come good.

So how has it come to this? Well the mango had about a dozen fruit a year for the last few years, and we live near the river where there are mangos in abundance as shade trees, so it seemed a waste of space. Then recently we visited friends who gave us a huge sack of the best navel oranges I have ever eaten from a tree in their yard, and I realized we could do better. So that mango will be replaced with 3 citrus trees (and a raised veggie patch). So maybe we are carbon even there. But we have a huge mountain of chipped tree that will be mulch all around the place, and I don’t know what that does to the atmosphere. I do know they dumped it on my favorite gingers and heliconia, and that the intense heat it generates in the next few weeks will cook the beegeebers out of them, but I am trying to remain calm.

The bamboo doesn’t rate a mention. Horticultural error, I am sorry.

The Poinciana, it is one of the reasons we bought the property, majestic as. And old. So it has been dropping branches the size of a crocodile on the footpath at odd times. We haven’t hit a pedestrian yet, but it could happen, so a big prune was in order, By the end of next wet season it should look good again – I hope.

To compound my sin I drove to work today. I must do that all of 6 times a year. And then I ran errands at lunchtime because Scott is away and we needed dog food. So then I thought ‘what the hell’ and had lunch at Maccas! Fries and all! I’ll have to do penance on the road bike tomorrow.

All in all a very un-ecological day. But I’ll be able to grow a lot more food now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

new bike!

Well I think I need a new bike now, ready or not. I went for a gentle mountain bike today, just to get used to the feel of it, nothing too technical. And I stacked it in soft sand. I was laughing as I went down, I knew I wouldn't be hurt, but a riding partner was close, and sacrificed himself to miss running over me, and the crash escalated to pretty spectacular! Blood and pain (his) and a totally bent up wheel and forks (mine). I only had a few scrapes, but my bike is really limping.

I’ll have a more serious look at the wsd mountain bikes now. I don’t know if my cheapie is worth keeping, but I like it and would keep it at my sisters so I can ride when I visit her. Poor thing, it seems I crash it whenever we hit the dirt together. So the ride was a bit shorter than planned, leaving me about 40kms short of the mythical 300km prize. Ah well.

I had planned on riding this morning during the road racing, but they needed volunteers, so I stood on a very windy corner (we are talking wind chill of 10 or less C – and I am a hothouse flower) and monitored racers instead. Races can’t happen without supporters, and I am happy to lend a hand, but struth! I was about frozen when it was over. I need a proper Canadian coat, if only for a few weeks a year!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

how much is enough

My legs are that tired. I am obsessed with kilometers. I have decided that 300 a week is a top effort. I have succeeded in doing 300 a week a couple of times, so now it seems I MUST do 300 every week. And it is hard. With work, and travel, and very short winter days, it is very hard. I am sitting on 243 and tomorrow is Sunday, so I have to get out there and knock over nearly sixty tomorrow. On legs that need Tiger Balm in a lot of places. Monday morning is zero no matter what. But it matters – I don’t know why. So I’ll do my best.

I am now officially training for the Paluma Push. I am determined to improve last years rock bottom time, and be braver. I am not a skilled mountain biker, I am a terrified off roader. But the country! Believe me, if you get off and walk the whole race, you have still won. Rainforest like a tunnel of cold moist darkness. Eucalypt forest like a cathedral. Cow tracks through grass tree country, the sun warm on your back and a race that is yours alone. Paradise found, and friends who cheer you across the finish like no matter how long they had to wait. It just doesn’t get any better. Thanks Steve.

get it?

Let me make one thing abundantly clear. I am a cyclist. When I go to a friends house for a wee social, if they live in the city, I will probably arrive on my bike. It seems silly to me to drive, especially if I can nip across the weir (bikes only) and get there in a few minutes, rather than driving the long way around via the main bridges and actually taking a longer time in the car. Never mind the use of fuel and the fact that I can have a wine or three and toddle home much more safely on a bike.

So I just do not get the current ‘high price of gas’ debate. I have no patience for the argument that the government should make gas cheaper. I am tired of the notion that people who drive need to continue to do so, no matter what. That we need new fuel technologies to keep individual vehicles on the road. That electric cars are the answer.

I want to live in a city where the roads are not clogged with individuals piloting high speed killing machines. I want the whole developed world to slow down. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we didn’t accept that it is just normal for people to die on our roads every day. Because we need to hurry. Because that is normal.

Love life. Find an alternative to driving.

Monday, June 16, 2008

new bike?


I am thinking of a new mountain bike. Well, my husband started it, I was just complaining about my old mountain bike when it skipped a lot of gears and spontaneously busted yet another spoke. So I get home from work and there is a nice shiny Specialized catalogue from our favorite bike shop. With pages turned down and prices negotiated. Seriously nice bikes for a seriously unskilled rider.

I should point out that my old bike is 12 months old. At most. But it is very heavy, requires you to shift two or three to get one, and keeps blowing spokes. I will be competing (har!) OK, participating in a race through some beautiful country, but self sufficiency is required, and I don’t want to have to carry a workshop on my back. And I do want to knock serious time off last years result – not quite but very near - stone, motherless last.

So I dropped around to see a bike they were assembling on Saturday which was ‘just the thing’ – and it was the wrong size. I am amazed by how few small women’s specific bikes the shops bring in. Let me explain a simple fact – the smaller a woman is, the more she needs a women’s specific bike. You cannot go wrong stocking the smallest sizes. Captive market and all that.

So I’ll go back another day and try and get a leg over a small bike. And if I don’t think it is small enough I will hold out for an extra small bike. I question the sanity of spending as much on a mountain bike as I spent on the road bike, there is no way it will get the miles. But it will get miles, and one thing the road bike has shown me is that the more you love it, the more you ride it.

I’m thinking about it… but not committed.
Oh and I forgot my kms last night. A pathetic 98! Off to the dam tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

committed to racing

Bright and early we left for Hervey’s range. Scott was racing and I was going to ride. As we approached Rupertswood we were pleased to see the temperature was sitting on 15 degrees. Suddenly it dropped to 9, then down rapidly by .5s to 6! We didn’t even bring leg warmers.

So I left my bike in the car and stood around clutching my coffee for heat. They were a bit short handed today, so would I help out? No worries. In the heated car and up the range to time the time trialists. I swear my fingers were blue. Then back in the heated car to follow the C grade pack in the road race. I couldn’t believe how long the race seemed. If I was on a bike I would be totally unaware of the passage of time, but in a car it just drags. Still, it was fun to be involved, warm, and at the finish line to pack Scott up after the race.

Hopefully we can get back out there next weekend for a ride and some photos, it is awesome.

So now I am committed to racing. I probably won't race, but since I intend to always be there as support for a team of one, I may as well train up and be useful. Viva my sporting evolution.

Friday, June 13, 2008

home at last

I was away. I got on an aeroplane, a proper one, not a jetplane, and flew to another city to work my magic for 3 days in another office.
I like flying, it is nice to be above the clouds. And my destination was a bit rainy so this was a look at sunshine I wouldn't see for a few days. I don't mind being away, except I can't cycle. I could get on a stationary bicycle and 'do exercise', but that really doesn't work for me. So I ate well and drank too much good wine instead. And then I got to come home after a very delayed flight, but I am safe and sound - and it was Friday the 13th today, so I am grateful for that.
After a few days of total rest, I expect these legs to have some oomph in the morning. Come 5:30 am we'll find out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quantum shift

Last week (a week being Monday to Sunday) I cycled 300 kms. Actually, it was probably 298, but let’s not split hairs. I love to cycle. I get on my bike and I just go, and I can go a fair way. So yesterday, we needed an ingredient for dinner (chorizo – Scott was making his famous red beans and rice) and Scott suggested we get on our bikes, go about 6 kms to the shops… and I didn’t want to. “Do we need milk?” in the hopes that milk would be too heavy. “No, just chorizo.”

So why so reluctant? We would have to go on the roads that go where we need to travel, not the roads we like to travel on. And there would be cars, maybe lots of them. And they would be filled with text messaging, bicycle hating car drivers. Shudder.

We’ll take the mountain bikes. I have flat pedals on the mountain bike because my $200.00 Ritchey Pro V4 pedals seized up after one wet season. Just stopped turning in the middle of a commute. Bugger. Off we go, regular clothes, Dunlop volleys, and fear of Yobs. And it was fun! Monday was a holiday so traffic was light on. And it felt good to be sitting upright, with sneakers on my feet and a shop to visit. The bike lanes were excellent, the few drivers patient. It was all good.

Almost as good as red beans and rice.

So here is the challenge. Do you own a fabulous bike? Do you ride for recreation and fitness? Buy a cheap bike. Get on it. Do your chores. How can I possibly justify my Specialized road bike (zerts! Must have zerts!) if I will ride it 300 kms a weeks but I would drive 6km to the shops. Time for a quantum shift for all recreational cyclists. It’s not about the bike. It’s about active transport.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday already!

Some weeks, I just am not ready for it to be Friday. And I only realised yesterday that Monday is a holiday. I don't know if I can stop hyperventilating about work for long enough to have a nice weekend, but I am willing to try. I brought home maps and data in case I can’t get over it, but after a few wines I dare say work becomes a distant memory.

We have a guest who has just (like yesterday) moved to Townsville, so we will be distracted by all the amazing things there are to show and share to a newcomer. He already realizes he is doomed to some cycling, ready or not. But honestly, like the Dutch student who borrowed my hybrid the other day remarked, the city is a whole different place when you get off the main roads. So it is worth the effort (I hope).

I was having a nice doodle to the dam this morning and I swear Ruth Corset passed me. If there is one person I don’t mind passing me it is Ruth. I was very tempted to jump on her wheel but that would just be rude.

The fog was weird at the dam. It was beige, thick, and it tasted like flint. A bit of cordite aftertaste. Interesting. I assume it was dusty with a western storm, but I don’t know for sure.

Anyway – a big three day weekend stretches ahead. With 200 kms to add to for a Sunday midnight total, looks sweet.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

busy day

I got going early this morning and did the dam run. Kudos to Leone who was cycling to work, back on her bike after knee surgery, it is so lovely to see people you know as you cycle along.

A beautiful morning, a powerful cycle. You know how some days you just feel like superman (or superwoman in my case) well this was such a day. It was strange and a bit foggy as I got near the dam. I wondered if it was smoky, not foggy. I am from Nova Scotia and I know a thing or two about fog, and this was dark. It was like cycling in Mordor. So, being the Spatial sort of person I am I checked Sentinel, Australia’s bush fire monitor.




Nope, no bush fires here, so it was just a very strange, dark fog. But so beautiful.
I got to the top of the dam wall like it was easy (I couldn’t do it a few months ago) and had a break. I took a new photo of myself. Now I have seen these sorts of photos elsewhere, and I have to conclude that my arms are a lot shorter than average, or my head is huge. I’ll keep trying.


So off to the uni I go, and I arrive early and filled with that sort of super energy that you get after a ride that felt 100 kms too short. Fired up the email (I like to delete emails while I cool down) and there is one from my doctor. I had tests on my heart a couple of weeks ago, and it seems I didn’t study enough. I hate failing tests. So now I get to have more tests. I’m telling you (both of you readers) that a person knows if they are unwell, and I have never been more well. So relax Dr Carson, it will all be fine and there will be an interesting paper in it for you. And no, I can’t fit you in till the week after next, I am a busy woman.

Speaking of busy, today was the visibility ride at JCU. Some BUG members thought we should cycle around the campus and introduce ourselves to some Sr. management types to raise the profile of cycling at the university. Bonus – I get an email at around 9:30 from WIN news wanting to interview cyclists. It seems that the Australian Government bean counters have decided that cyclists save 200 million a year in reduced medical expenditure. And that is leaving out the savings in road wear and tear and carbon credits we should all get a cheque in the mail for. So WIN comes and does an interview, takes some footage of us all and it is all good. As a super bonus my new Fat Cyclist jersey got Australian air time!

They managed to leave my observation that car drivers with no respect for cyclists were a minority with a predictably short life span due to their driving habits ... on the cutting room floor. Bummer.

And then I got back to the office and had a phone message to call a magazine for an interview about map projections. So I did that, but I won’t bore you with the details. Not everyone is as mappy as I am.

All in all, a high exposure sort of a day.

And I got to lend a bike to a really nice dutch girl who emailed me asking where one could rent a bike in Townsville. It is so nice to justify my collection by having lovely students ride some of the bikes while they are here,. She was just lovely and I am sure my generosity will colour her view of her time at the university. Good deeds are just such fun. Thanks to my spouse who was busy pumping tires and checking lights when I got home.

And a special thanks to the city maintenance crews. In the last week they have swept up all the dangerous gravel, sand and glass along Angus Smith Drive (this is major for my commute) and the lovely guys working near Weir School today, when I stopped to tell them about several glass smashes along the bike way near there – removed all trace of glass. You are champions and we really appreciate you!

Ok – enough for one blog already, even my Mom wouldn’t read this much!

Monday, June 2, 2008

down by the river

For most people Townsville is all about sea, sand and sun, but for a lot of commuters it is about the riverway. The riverway is a dedicated bike trail that allows you to ride from near the city centre all the way out to the dam, a distance of about 16 kms along the north side of the river (one way) on a dedicated bike/walking trail. Now the riverway is a nice stress free way to ride, but it is not all perfect. Sad to say but it is pretty rough going the last 5 kms or so to the dam. It has been neglected by the former council and needs upgrading. The good news is that the road is really good out that way so us need for speeders take the road anyway.

Sunday was a really lovely day, and I needed a photo to work into a banner for the new Townsville BUG site, so I ventured to the end of the street and trolled along the riverway looking fo a good photo.

As daily commutes go, this is pretty special. Even as the dry season starts to bite (the driest fall on record here) the park and raintrees along the river are green and lovely.

I wanted to get a shot with some cyclists, and didn't have to wait long. To see the artistically rendered results go to http://www.cyclingnorth.net/townsville/

Nice day today, not too cold or too hot, just right. Went like stink after a rest day on Sunday.

Last weeks kms are a guesstimate due to the trippy falling over on Wednesday. Probably closer to 200 than 250.

kms since I got the road bike in July = 7632. This must be recorded now because the memory was wiped when the battery came out.