Thursday, December 31, 2009

time to tally up

Well we thought we would ride today, but 200mm+ of rain has kept us in, so I might as well do the final tally for 2009
Jan 908.1
Feb 676.2
Mar 1196.8
April 838.6
May 1076.3
June 1034.0
July 1011.9
Aug 261
September 1186.9
Oct 922.9
Nov 954.7
Dec 970.9
total 11038.3

I will happy to equal that next year, but I'll go for a bit more "because I can"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

happy new year and all that

Well tomorrow is the last day of the year, so I am going for a ride and I'll get my totals all posted and all that jazz then.

BUT - I went to see Avatar today and I am excited. Yes the movie was gorgeous, and the story was moving (actually, I work in a parallel universe where the forces of good in the form of environmentalists battle with the forces of evil in the form of geologists every single day, in a university department which gives new meaning to "interesting times") ... but I digress.

Did you notice the holographic maps??!! Did you see the ash falling into your lap rather than on the screen? Did you marvel that you didn't get a crashing headache? I think about 3D visualization all the time, and this just blew me away. It was comfortable. I suppose I have a very well trained brain, but the 3D was deep and rich and natural. 6 of us went to the movie (3 spatial geeks) and the 3D experience was variable, which I found interesting, but all found it enriching. And it was all about the movie, not the 3D.

I'll have to see the movie again. I got distracted by the movie. I want to look critically at the value of 3D to the experience. This is spatial visualisation at a very high level, and I am excited about how the very foundations of cartography have just shifted out from under me - again. Good thing I am a change junkie, because my work (and so my life) has just changed forever...

interesting times indeed!

Friday, December 25, 2009

seasonal (?) photos

Christmas eve dinner of papusa and home made extras. This is traditional somewhere, surely.

Chief quality control officer makes sure it is OK

We are SO not vegans, ribs are a Christmas Eve indulgence, sorry all you vegans!

Evidence of tiny reindeer! A Christmas critter snacked on fruit in the fruit bowl during the night, proof of tiny tropical reindeer for sure!!!
Who opened all the presents? I am a bit sad they are gone.... I see my time stamp is off by a day.

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to all.
Ride safe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

in the mood

I have had three days off work now (the weekends don't count!) and I only rode on Monday (the lights amble doesn't count). Monday I did a good 55 kms, and I was a basket case of exhaustion all day. So I have taken time off to expend my energy elsewhere, and I am amazed at how good I feel.

Every weekend we ride, and I fall over in the afternoon for a profound short nap, even if I am sitting up. I thought I was just getting old, but now I have had a couple of high energy days off I am rethinking things. I think I am not hydrating well enough. I drink more than I ever thought possible, but I don't think it is enough. At work I get through so much tea trying to keep my energy up that I think I am OK, but really, I am not. So I will try to get more plain water through my system in the future.

So what does a cyclist do with unexpended energy?
Shop, clean, and cook! Yesterday I made rum balls, Indian inspired bits and bites and Vietnamese chicken meatballs. All of this was consumed by cyclists, along with bratwurst and champers, so today I did another round. Here are another, bigger batch of bits and bites (for the non-Canadians that is nuts, cheerios (the cereal!!) and fried noodles, spiced and crisped in the oven, recipe to follow) ; another batch of rum balls (made with wheatbix) and a jar of curtido for tomorrows Christmas eve dinner of American ribs and pupusas. When I took this shot I was making salsa roja as well, and celebrating a day facing the stove with a champers (well I am on holiday after all).

And then I stopped to smell the flowers, and admire the contents of a parcel from Germany.

Matthias Hoefner was my very first cartographic trainee from Dresden, and I still just love him to bits. He sent me this globe tin full of yummy biscuits, but for a Cartographer the real beauty of the inside is the celestial globe. Thanks heaps mate!


the christmas light ride

Start with champagne as the night comes on slowly. This is shortly after 7, the tropics doesn't do late evenings, not even near the solstice. Me and BoaB.

The ride organiser getting us off to a good start.
Nearly time to roll
Mixing with a home owner. He, his wife and their adult son were dressed up and greeting people with a bucket of lollies. This was one of the best displays of the night I think, but there were several really good ones. Pictures by Linda. Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

summer christmas

Yes, the summer solstice was yesterday, and today we did a slow and kid friendly evening ride to enjoy the christmas lights in the local neighbourhoods. Warm, soft. We had to wait til nearly 7:30 for it to be dark enough to roll out.

We went up and down streets, lights ablaze (Ay Ups are the best, no lie) and lots of glow sticks to make us super visible. Being on bikes you can interact with the home owners who are in their yards watching the 'tourists' enjoying the displays. We sang carols, and shouted "thanks" and "well done" to those who were out in their yards.

And cars stopped for us, and made way and were super nice. Christmas is grand.
We ended at our house, where I had laid on some food and a LOT of champagne. Thanks for my sister and her husband in Nova Scotia for the flowers. It was really a lovely evening and now I am truly "in the mood" for Christmas.

There may be more photos later, as usual I didn't take the ones with me in them!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

being your best

I got a great chuckle last week reading the comments from a guy who won a bike from the Fat Cyclist, that he was "the fastest 42 year old cyclist on his street", or words to that effect. I have thought about that quite a bit. It was a very funny line, but it also gave me a reminder of where I sit.

I am probably the slowest D grade racer in Townsville, but I have yet to prove that. I am looking forward to bravely having a go.

I am in about the best shape I have ever been in, ever. My butt is as shapely as when I was 20, maybe better. I think I may be the fastest 50 year old female cyclist on my street, but there is a runner at the end of the street I haven't ridden with, and you know what runners are like... maybe she is a bit more than 50...

So I am looking forward to being my best in 2010. I am not sure how my best stacks up against other people, but then I have never been competitive anyway. I'm shooting for a big number in 2010 for mileage, but I have to be realistic about it. Dare I dream of 15,000 kms?

With that in mind I would like to thank Mark D. Pankin, whom I have never met, but who created the spreadsheet for my mileage, and turned me into a demented kilometer hound. You can get one too, the 2010 version is now available at:

I am really grateful that he does this, because I am not an excel guru. Merry Christmas Mark and thanks for the nice gift of another year spread out as a blank slate, just waiting for the numbers. I'll try and keep them big.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

winding down to Christmas

Well the weather outside is delightful, we have settled into a pattern of cool strong sea breezes and a bit of overcast, the odd short sharp shower. Yes the cycling kit still splats when it hits the floor, but it is summer after all. The air con has been off all week though, and I am relieved.

It is a bit hard to wrap your brain around Christmas when it is summer. Yes there are lots of boozy parties, strange seasonal finger foods like cheerios
Which are like small red hot dogs, but not as nice. This is the one time of the year when you see them served in preference to snags (BBQ sausages). Tomorrow we will do the boozy lunch thing at work, and next week you should be able to fire a cannon at the Uni and not hit anybody, even I am staying home, I think this is the first time I haven't worked til Christmas eve but meh....

So I'll have time for some cycling! I intend to cycle, bake, nap, cuddle my dog on what is probably his last Christmas, and generally chill out. Bliss. Life is good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the air con

I try to live a green life. I don't drive a car unless I can't avoid it. We only own one car, and it is a diesel. If I can figure out how to brew up cane toads into bio-diesel I will be very green indeed. We grow herbs, fruit and veggies, use bore water in the garden, have solar powered hot water, live in a well insulated and shaded passively cooled Queensland style high house. I guess that is why I feel so guilty. I have shut up the french doors and flanged on the air con because I am tired of having wet hair.

With all the goings on in Copenhagen this week it is hard being not green, but it is summer and you don't have to suffer if you have a thick skin. While the protesters roar and the politicians try to find a map for prosperity on a threatened planet, I am using air conditioning. I apologise. Consider it use of the carbon credits I have earned through the rest of the year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

jelly legs

As a solitary rider, it is really nice to ride with a big bunch on the Saturday coffee ride and see how everyone is going. I am relieved to report that lots of people, including some cyclists I suspected were actually cyborgs, are "knocked around by the heat".

Thank heavens, I thought it was just me. I am still getting good kilometres in, but less than I would like. I am just so slow. Time has forced it's way into my consciousness because I seem to need quite a lot of it to do my rides. Captain Slow, that's me. I got dropped by the coffee ride this morning for shit's sake, and I didn't even care. I sealed the deal by stopping at a park and filling my water bottle. If you are going to go it alone, at least be well hydrated.

So I am not training, I am in a holding pattern. On good days I will go hard. I am measuring out some possible training routes for when I ramp it up. Finding hills is hard, but I have some possibilities that work into my geography. I am riding every day, because a day without riding is hardly worth bearing, but I am respecting the heat, and what it does to a body. Sweaty and elated, but not fast.

Friday, December 4, 2009

the swallows

I cycle at speed, and the swallows converge upon me.
A cloud of beating wings, soaring hearts.
They swoop and lead my wheel like dolphins at the prow of a ship.
They lead, and I follow, knowing the way is safe.
And I am transcendent with joy.

time and space

I am pretty spatially aware. It comes with the territory of being a mapper for (dare I say it) almost 30 years. I know where I am, I know where north is (unless I am in a mall, where I am lost and confused). I know how far, but I don't have a handle on time.

Alberto has assumed that my careful log of distance has an associated log of time, but I confess I don't know about time. When I cycle, I enter a space/time continuum which consists of music=rhythm=distance. time=null. I am a distance person. There is no time. People always ask me "how long does it take" to do one of my regular rides. Until I started training, I had no idea. No time at all, really. You head out, find a groove, arrive at the end of the line, turn back, go to work. A half hour? An hour? Time is a convoluted thing. If you are in the groove it takes like, 15 minutes. If it is a suffer fest it takes a bit longer. If you arrive at work quite late, it is an eternal mystery.

Imagine my surprise that I am cycling hours, really! I had no idea, no wonder my legs are tired.

So I am a bit turned off training. I don't know if I am ready for time. I just want the perfect elongation of now, a ride measured only in effort and the pleasure of working the machine. Why deny yourself the drop into a black hole that is the perfect 30kms that lasted 10 minutes. Then you come through the wrinkle in time that is cycling and find yourself at the uni, blinking in surprise. What could be more perfect? What else is there? Who cares how long?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

songs while you cycle

This is mine. It arises unbidden whenever I am doing it really tough, usually into a wind. Very moving for anyone who has feared for the love of their life on the water, in a storm, as I have. This is nice because it has the context...

the Edmund Fitzgerald, I thought I had better link it for all the Aussies who probably don't know it.

more to do than ride

No ride today, a good nights sleep and up early to go to Bunnings (Aussie for Home Depot) to sell sausages. This is an epic fundraiser. It takes about a year to get a booking, and no wonder. The Cycling Club will make a packet, a thousand? Much more? I have no idea but it is good fun and well worth it for the money raised. My fast food training was very handy, as was my eye for neatness and ability to multi-task. I really enjoyed myself.

It was a bit hot (32ish) but a good breeze, wind isn't always the enemy. And now it is dark with storm clouds, but will they just evaporate at the edge of the ranges, or will it rain? It is exciting to have weather again after 6 months of perfect winter.

Straight in to work tomorrow? Maybe, or I might leave early for a run to the dam. I have to be at a planning meeting first thing, so I have to be careful not to lose track of time. It will be a bore, because Techos have no say in planning at all, so you have to sit and bite your tongue while they waffle on. No matter what the plan my work is pretty much what I make of it, I'll just keep doing my best.

My training is now all out of kilter, sorry Alberto, but I had more to do than ride today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

easy commute

Since I started following AMRs training plan, I have struggled with the 'easy commute'. I go into the zone and end up pounding away on autopilot, or I struggle against a headwind which makes a mockery of easy and turns slow into a struggle. If I catch a tailwind it is easy, but as we all know, tailwinds are the rarest type.

Anyhow, I am enjoying it so far. I need to figure out where to go to find some required rolling hills (up on Harvey's Range, about a 150km return trip) and how to fit the ride in around a fund raiser for the cycling club this weekend, and is that too ambitious for this early in.... and all that stuff. I am an inexperienced athlete so this is all new to me.

Tomorrow will be a landmark day. My morning ride combined with the commute home should see me hit the magic 10,000 km mark for the year. Indeed I won't turn for home until I have it, because I am SO close. This was my big goal for the year, and now I have all of December as the icing on the cake. Considering August was pretty skint in the mileage department while I traveled overseas I am well pleased.

I have to take a week off work (with pay) the week after Christmas, because they close the Uni down. How many kms can you do in the summer heat? hmmmmm...

Friday, November 20, 2009

back to normal

I don't have much of a mapping blog today. I did think about mapping, as you do. It was my op day, I get one a month for working a little extra every day, so I read a lot of mapping blogs, cleaned and pulled weeds in the garden. Actually, I thought a lot about mapping as I was doing chores, this is the benefit of an engaging occupation. I thought about crowd sourcing, and government reluctance to freely supply large scale data of any type, and how Google has changed the world forever. We live in an information age, and it is truly a revolution that the supply chain of spatial information can now bypass the government, and frequently does.

I thought about the still ongoing debate about the relevance and future of cartography. This is a debate that seemed to begin about the time of my graduation in 1981, and has raged and ebbed and gotten more interesting year by year. And still the paycheques roll in, and I wish I was twins to do everything that needs doing, and my wee empire at the Uni would collapse if it wasn't for the slave labour I employ from Germany in the form of trainees.

The more data we have the more important it becomes that somebody understands how to sort it, group it, and show it to us in a way that makes sense. I'll keep training young people to do that, because we have more data every day, and I think cartography will always be relevant, and I think the debate will go on forever while we get on with doing the work.

It has been hard taking a week off the bike, as well as the blog. I started Alberto's training program, and wisely it starts with a soft week. This is helpful to people who don't ride a lot as it helps them ramp up. For people who probably ride too much it works like going on vacation from work, you promptly fall ill with whatever you were holding at bay with adrenalin and sheer determination. So I have limped through my slow rides, and I probably will only watch the race that has popped up on Sunday, because I know race fit doesn't feel quite like this. I had full blown bronchitis last time I raced and I am so not going back there!

So here is to Geography Awareness week and cycling, a match made in heaven. Celebrate by pulling up a map, and taking a ride this weekend to somewhere near you that looks interesting, and where you have never been. Geography is discovery.
So I hope you have not been too mystified by the mapping, and have all kept riding

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Census data and mapping

I attended a Statistical Liaison Officer meeting this afternoon, and forgot the camera, doh. There is nothing particularly interesting about a bunch of us sitting in a room looking at Powerpoint presentations anyway, but the venue is at the beach and very pretty.

These meetings are put on by the Office of Economic and Statistical Research (Queensland State Government) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Federal Government). When I first started going to these meetings several years ago I knew nothing about demographic data, and it has been very educational to listen to people talk about the census and other projects to collect data about people, and the issues that arise and how to solve problems.

Coming from a science background I was very ignorant about census data, so it has been a great help that the Government has been so proactive in getting people together and working as a group to educate and share ideas.

I have also had to accept that demographers are not as interested in the maps as they are in the data, and choropleth maps using a default colour ramp is the bog standard way of doing things. I find it boring and repetitive. This is not something I have researched, but surely there are better and more interesting ways of doing it.

I like the colour schemes used in Cynthia Brewers guide to census mapping for the colour vision impaired, at least they look fresh and attractive. (see the online colour brewer application, but be prepared to wait while it .

Personally, because the census geography around here is so variable in size, I prefer to use graduated symbols. They are more fun (you can chose something that is meaningful, like a dollar sign for income) and they don't create the visual bias you get from a huge polygon (because of low population) overwhelming small polygons because it is a strong color and dominates the map. It also lets large geographic areas (usually the hinterlands around the edges) be truncated by the neatline and the symbol placed in a more visually comparable area near the other polygons.

I am at home now, and I don't have examples to post. A blog about mapping with no pictures is pretty lame, sorry. You can play with Queensland data here, no map making though! Try the map stats at the ABS for that. I confess I haven't played with these websites before, I get the data and use it in my GIS.

I haven't had the chance to work on a demographic atlas yet, but I can see there is a lot of interesting work to be done. Maybe I will give the City Council a nudge to let me help them with the population atlas they mentioned at the meeting today. It would be very interesting and quite fun. So many things to map, and so little time!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

International GIS Day

Here I am showing off my blog to 120 high school students who have gathered to celebrate International GIS Day.

We had 4 Young Professionals from the Spatial Sciences present on what they do, how they got there, and why they love doing it. There was a field Exercise with GPS, and lots of SWAG.
Stress ball compliments of ESRI, pens from ESRI, Brazier & Motti (a big local survey firm) and pens and propaganda from James Cook University, because I do love JCU and am proud to work there. We don't teach cartography, but we do teach lots of other stuff with a "where in it".

There was morning tea with a special GIS Day cake, and you have to love that! There were also sandwiches, carrot cake and fruit, and I may have fallen off my diet...

ESRI supplied the morning tea too, and I think it impressed the attendees. This scene will look pretty exotic to all you North Americans, because you are not used to school uniforms. This is actually the school my son attended, and I loved the old blue check shirts and shorts that you could line dry and never iron, and that everyone felt a part of their school and very equal, because they all looked the same.
We had representatives from 4 high schools, and their teachers. They were a great group and really keen, and I hope they were excited by all the possibilities of a spatial career, and that I see a few of them in the future in our GIS lab.

The day didn't end there for the GIS professionals, we had an ESRI GIS Users Group meeting at the council chambers in the afternoon, where we all learned about new possibilities and future trends. I hope those students realize that learning sure doesn't end when you graduate, my head was spinning with all the possibilities and applications! You have to love a challenge to love the spatial sciences. Happy GIS day!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It is official, I am linked from the website with my bio and everything!

I was hoping to add links to some .pdfs of the vegetation maps, but haven't gotten permission yet, so we all have to wait. The launch will be soon.

I obviously like to map, and this blog is usually about cycling, so I will give you a link to a cycling map I just completed for the JCU BUG. I am the president of this group, so when there seems to be a problem with a mapping solution, I feel responsible for making it happen. We needed a cycling map to help students on campus, many of whom are not from Queensland, find their way safely by bicycle to the local shops and attractions. We included a ton of road rules, because newcomers can't be expected to know the local laws, and you will get dinged pretty quick by the police if you don't wear a helmet here.

here is the map - if you print it A4 two sided and then fold it in half 3 times it just fits in your jersey pocket!

It took a long time to do, not because it is a complex map, but because the data was non-existent or out of date or unverified. As per my last blog entry, large scale mapping is expensive, because you need the detail. I liaised with Townsville City Council, Main Roads and Queensland transport, getting a bit of data from each. I then verified and added (and deleted) data using my own local knowledge and the imagery in Google maps as 'field truthing'. This JCU map is a prototype using this data, and it will be further refined and developed for the whole City in 2010. I am working with the GIS unit in the council on this, they are a great bunch. As usual though, they were waiting on the perfect data to make the map, while I take the approach that you do your best, make the map, then solicit feedback for correction and refinement. People just adore finding mistakes on maps, and believe me, they will let you know!

So that is mapping blog #2. Tomorrows post will be delayed, because I will be off campus helping out with International GIS Day festivities and events at a local school. I promise to take some pictures and share the day. It should be fun.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This is a special blog for National Geographic's Geography Awareness Week. It is brought to you by James Cook University (I wrote it at work).
I am the Cartographer at James Cook University, where the most common request always starts with “I need a map of”. Then there will be a long list of parameters, or perhaps just one or two, but what the person requesting the map is always surprised to find out, is that such a map doesn’t exist, or if it does exist, it is for a much smaller scale than they imagined.
Large scale mapping, a useful scale that you would use in the field like 1:50,000 (a map sheet being about 26x26 square kilometres, or 676 sq. kms) is still only available for the coastal and built-up areas of Australia. This scale is topographic mapping, with very little thematic mapping done.
The issues are cost and effort. To get the information together to make a map takes a very skilled group a very long time, and so this sort of effort is only made rarely, for something really important.
Lucky for me there has been a really big effort going on for over 12 years in the Wet Tropics Management Authority. They are a Government Agency charged with the management of Australia’s World Heritage rainforests, which cover almost 900,000 ha of land, mostly National Parks, between Townsville and Cooktown, north Queensland. Why does that make me lucky? Because after all those years getting the information right, they asked for my help to make it into maps, real maps that are published on paper.
You see, the problem with a big data gathering effort is that you can gather so much data that it becomes really difficult to map. So while I had access to this data for my researchers, if they wanted me to make a map of it, visualise so they could see it, hold it and understand it, I always had to do so for each person individually. Everyone wanted to see something different, or specific combinations of data that were of interest to them alone. So using the same data, I would make something new of it again and again.
Since I understood the dataset so well it was a bit easier to develop a cartographic model that would show an overview of the data while providing the full detail of every single polygon down to one mm in size. I wanted it to work like Google Maps, zooming in with your brain and the information provided in the legend, instead of using their interactive programming.
Soon the mapping project will be finished and launched. It took us another two years to finish all the maps. There are 52 maps needed to cover the Wet Tropics Bioregion. We have had 30 of them published on waterproof paper, the full set will be available on DVD or to download from the web.
I think they are very beautiful, as well as very useful. Good cartography should be lovely to look at. I chose to use colour families that you could recognise (broadly) by looking at the map.
The detail is in the alphanumeric identifier on each little polygon. Flip the map over and you can read the whole story of what lies within it.

So far everyone who has used the maps finds them really easy to navigate. I think it is a good example of the expectation of rich information that you get from data in a GIS (Geographic Information System) finding its way onto a paper map with no loss of detail.

And how detailed is it? There are over 90,000 polygons describing over 200 vegetation types. The GIS team at WTMA calculated that all the polygon arcs they digitized would reach ¼ of the way to the moon.

I hope the maps will be available early in 2010. Visit the Wet Tropics web site at and find out more about our amazing World Heritage rainforests, and hopefully download one of the maps. I think they are a joy to behold!

Friday, November 13, 2009

a week for mapping

I’ll be joining bloggers around the Web for the 2009 Geography Awareness Week Blog-a-thon, hosted by National Geographic’s My Wonderful World Campaign. Tune in to the My Wonderful World Blog November 15-21 for a daily dose of geographic news and jottings, photos, calls to action, a mystery location quiz, and more…

My official blog will go up Monday morning my time. It will be the first of several rambles about making maps using scientific data, very little of which is developed with mapping in mind. GIS systems (Geographic Information Systems) have spoiled users a bit, because they can colour up the map any old way, and always get a look at the detailed data by clicking on a feature and getting the full attributes.

But GIS isn't for everyone, and I for one find online GIS to be clunky and offputting. In my years of working with people in schools and the community I have observed that they feel the same way. Can you make a map that delivers all the goods, and looks good too?

stay tuned for Monday.

On my bike til then, should be a good weekend to ride.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

first rain race of the year

I was supposed to leave the office early for a ride with BoaB, but there was a teleconference missing from my diary, so I couldn't get away. Then I couldn't find my keys and the usual comedy of errors got me out the door later than usual, into a gloomy evening with a darkening sky.

"Why do you train?" Well one good reason is an evening like this, when you can smell the rain coming on a strong and blustery sea breeze. So you can stand up against that wind and race for home, legs and lungs pumping to get you down a deserted bikeway and to the shelter under your high set house in the tropics as the first big drops thunder down.

The elation of the first rains of the year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

training program

Up until now I have been an organic sort of cyclist. I go out hard on days when I feel good, and soft pedal if I am feeling tired or poorly. I cycle when I am sick. Indeed, my employer has benefited by my presence on days when I should have stayed in bed, but couldn't bear to not ride.

So I was interested in the offer by Alberto, partner of the very talented cyclist Groover, to have a training program designed for me for the vast sum of $12.50. Well who could resist. Hopefully one million people will sign up for this and Alberto can retire and ride his bike all day.

I sent of my details of how much I ride and how much I would commit to riding. I am a bit nervous waiting for the program, because I only have ridden for pleasure up to this point. Sometimes it is a pleasure to suffer, and sometimes I choose not to. I wonder if I have the ticker to suffer when I don't want to. I am ready to find out.

me time

Just back from some quality time on a 50 k loop. I can't imagine anything more soothing than a couple of hours alone with the ipod and a steady cadence. It is also fun to observe how variable wind conditions play havoc with speed. I settle in pretty quick to the 'pace of the day' and then I hold it for the long haul. Today I varied from 23 to 36 without a gear change or change of effort. No wonder we all dream about tail wind rides.

I was very grateful for the watering points along my ride today, I stopped for two fill ups. I only came home because hunger was starting to gnaw at my guts. When you are seriously contemplating cycling through a Maccas drive through it is time to go home for a healthy meal. So I have had a big nosh of leftovers and fruit, and I don't regret not having a burger!

Conditions remain unseasonably cool. I was out til 11am and it is not too hot out there. Overcast skies and a fresh sea breeze. Perfect.

Got to get the miles in before the rain sends us in for a rest.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

back from Cairns

We had a quick trip to Cairns this weekend and caught up with family. We don't do this often enough, and with a race every weekend of the winter we will try and pack in some more visits while the wet season keeps riding time low.

Speaking of the wet season, it seems to have arrived in Cairns, they must have had a good 60mm by now. It started just before normal cycling time (around 5:30) so there was no ride today. It absolutely bucketed down, and was still pelting when we left around 10:30. It will be nice to see the place looking greener, it was really dry.

The rain ran out around Tully, and it is still the dry season in Townsville. Maybe soon though, we'll get our green change.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

not racing

I slept in this morning, and had a nap this arvo after baking more bars and muffins (we are now banana free). All in preparation for a bit of non-racing. It was a beautiful day, clear and windy and just the right temperature for a hot house flower like me. We rode through a strong easterly wind to the V8 track for a criterion.

I have to confess I was stuffed when we got there, and a few lappies didn't help. But we were early so I collapsed on the grass and drank my water, then I cracked a lemon V with a ton of sugar and a dose of caffeine and by the time we were lining up I felt pretty good. Talk about your performance enhancing substances.

I was on novicover because I am waiting on the paperwork for my license, hopefully I'll get it this week. So that means you are training, not racing. Yea right. We did 15 minutes plus 2 laps, which is just perfect. I managed a big sprint finish, but I wasn't racing mind you, just having fun.

I actually had fans come to watch today, so I hope to get an action shot or two up in the next few days. I am usually the one with the camera, so it is exciting to have a chance to see how I look in motion. Winded I expect!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Banana baked goods

So far I have baked 2 dozen large muffins, a banana slice with sticky lime glaze, two banana cakes and best of all, my own invention - banana cycling bars. I am now in the habit of eating about a half dozen bananas a day. Now don't panic, they are the small, dense ladyfinger variety, so that is like 3 normal bananas. I use 6 to 8 per recipe, and as time goes on I have pushed the boundaries of just how much banana you can jam in a cake of muffin. All results so far are excellent!

For posterity I am posting the bar recipe, because I made it up as I went and it is really good, I'll be baking another batch or two tomorrow. It looks a bit freeform because the correct size pan is still at a friends house (where it was delivered full of the slice, still warm). I am not actually big on sweets, so I like the bars because they are way less sweet than commercial muesli bars, and zero fat too!

banana cycling bars

1 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole meal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped dates

1 1/2 cups or so mashed bananas
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the dry stuff, dump in the wet stuff, beat with a spoon til all blended. Bake about 25 minutes in a 9x12 inch pan lined with baking paper. Turn out onto a cooling tray.

Cool, cut into nice big bars, bung them into little zip lock bags and freeze. It takes me about a half hour to get to the dam, by which time a bar will have thawed and be ready for breakfast. I am a true miser and greenie, so the little zip lock bag will come home, get washed, hung on the handle of a knife in the knife block, and neatly put away to do service about another 100 times.

Tomorrow I have one more hand of 16 bananas to get through. That should do pancakes, a batch of bars (with sunflower seeds and pepitas this time) and yet another cake. And then the freezer is full and I am done.

Friday, October 30, 2009

having discipline

There was a time when having discipline, for me, meant digging deep and finding the heart to get on my bike. The last couple of weeks I have had a nagging lurgy of nausea and a cough which gets more 'productive' (meaning phlegmy) day by day. But I kept cycling, kept trying to get the miles, kept trying to keep the speed up. So I just haven't gotten better. My doctor (I had a basic maintenance appointment on Tuesday) backed this up, he reminded me that I had promised I wouldn't ride sick, yet here I was, kitted up in his office between rides.

Still in denial I left the surgery and went to the V8 track to train. Then reality bit hard. I couldn't hit 40km/hr, my breathing was ragged and I felt sick. After half a dozen turns I was in an unhealthy sweat so I went home and I have taken it easy ever since. No more than 30 kms a day commuting, and today I only did 15 (if you take the shortest way in you can do it in 12).

I am pining for a long ride, desperate for a hard effort, but willing to give my body a chance to get well. I take heart from Groovers excellent recovery from glandular fever. Why compared to that I am not even sick! Coffee run tomorrow: 5:30 am, I would have to be dead to miss that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

going bananas

We have too many bananas! There is another stalk ready to cut any day now. And at the end of the street I could fill that bucket with mangoes in minutes. Spring is harvest time in the tropics.
I am going to drop the Tropical Vegan (a link from Groovers blog) a line and offer them some bananas. They are JCU students, so we are sort of related.

Smoothy anyone?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

a run of disasters

Bugger! Another bike disaster as Bluenoser collects a trophy on his shoulder hot on the heels of an evil week in Brisbane and a cyclist down and badly injured in Cairns (link unavailable). Alberto so wisely tells us it is not if, but when - we spend so many hours on the roads, but can't we wish it wasn't so? Don't tell Boab, but I was nearly T-boned by a woman who slowed, looked right at me, and then took off across my path just this morning. I have placed a hex on her, so watch the Townsville obituaries.
Bluenoser, get a really big pumpkin and do your worst. Bwahh ha ha ha !

Monday, October 19, 2009

a strange lurgy

We awoke to wind this morning, a real lashing presence. But we got up and rolled out at 5 am for a bit of a run. As we pedaled along the strand BoaB hollered over the wind - "do you want to run to Pallarenda?" and I said sure, just let me blow my nose, have a drink and compose myself. So off we took and scalded out to the point with a tailwind giving us a great deal of assistance. Then of course we had to turn and face bitter reality, and I was pleased that I did quite well into the wind for the journey home. I felt great, and really strong.

I stopped at the house and grabbed a quick bowl of oatmeal for the sufferfest that would be the dam ride while Scott went to work, I packed my bags and sat down for a quick check of the news online, and I hit the wall. I fell asleep in my chair, so I went to lie down for 'just a minute' and woke up an hour later drenched in sweat and cold.

I rugged up in a fleecy robe, took a Panadol and made a coffee, then a tea, then I went back to bed and slept. I woke up at noon feeling fairly OK, and grieving for my anticipated big start to the week. Good citizen that I am I even called and cancelled a doctor's appointment for the end of the day. I just hate having routine maintenance with a waiting room full of sick people!

I made a big pot of chicken/vegetable soup. I better be OK tomorrow because I really want to ride. I enjoy a bit of quality down time, but one day is enough!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

life rushes on

It seems I have become a one a week blogger. I compose the best blogs when I am on a long ride, but then I go to work and time flies cause I am busy and I cycle home tired and cook and eat and have a glass of wine and go to bed. Repeat.

But that is not to say that nothing is going on. I rode with the group on Saturday morning, lead out at a nice, steady 30 kms/hr for a long turn, had 2 cups of coffee, vacuumed, washed the floor, helped my son clean up after the dust storms at his place (nobody cleans like a middle aged woman), had dinner with friends, gardened, had coffee with friends, gardened, attended a fund raising high tea, gardened, blogged.

Cycling is such a big part of my life. It deserves a sonnet, a skillful haiku, a ballad. When I get the chance...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

gutted - sorry Groover

I was so sad to read Groover's last Blog. At least I think it was a blog, because it showed up this afternoon in my Google Reader, but it isn't on her blog site, so I don't know.

The basic story is that the mean streets of Brisbane have caused her some heartache, and I feel so sorry. I am not sure who has been here longer, Sandra or me, but I feel a terrible cringe over the events that have transpired, and I want to apologise on behalf of all the Queenslanders who are worth sharing the road with.

Maybe it is because I am so obviously a small, ageing female, I don't cop that much abuse. Indeed, I have had many positive encounters with drivers. Maybe it is hotter up here, and there are more open windows. I have had conversations at red lights, encouragement from rev heads (I think "Go! Tour de France!) is encouragement, and several people have given way to me in round a bouts, which is several more than I expected.

I am astounded that a young male could come up behind Groover on her bike and not pause to appreciate her finer qualities, even if it was a bit dark! What a looser.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you should remain positive. Be of good cheer. Choose your roads carefully. Feel hope for us as a society.

You have to believe, but sometimes it is hard.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

hoonin' around

It was hot today. Really hot. After leaving Adelaide in the pre-dawn at 7 degrees C it was a shocker to land in Townsville at noon yesterday to hit 34. I was wearing wool, and compression tights (flying really knocks my leg muscles around) and jeans! I got home and put on a cotton dress and did 'light duties', my ambition to ride completely gone.
So this morning we rolled out at a "slept in" hour (around 7am) and went to the coffee shop for a fix, then doodled home. I had a BUG related meeting about a stalled bike way at 9, chores to do, and my first road race as a criterion around a section of the V8 track starting at 4pm.

As the day wore on it got hot, then hotter, up to 36 at one point. I went to change into my kit and I was covered in a rash. Should I race? I felt fine, yes I should at least ride to the track and then see.
The ride was into a full headwind, but a bit cooler as it was onshore, had turned from the baking westerlies. So we stumped up my Novicover fees and a good bunch (including an attentive BoaB) rolled out in a combined novice/D grade roll. It was more of a training run than a race. Lots of conversation and advice, practice laying into the turns, I got so confident I pedaled too soon through a corner and scraped my pedal - eeek!

It wasn't a real race but I went hard and I don't think I got lapped, so I am happy.

During the A-grade race Josh flatted and I gave him my rear wheel, and it was a thrill to see it wound up to speeds it hasn't experienced ever! I think he just pipped first, but I won't know for sure til the results are posted. I must have been pretty worked up myself because I checked the trippy and my top speed was 42! Not bad for an old gal!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A pox on Magda and Jenny Craig

image from the soapbox

While I was away and only had time to watch the real news on TV, you know, floods, a wee tsunami and an earthquake, death and suffering, I was surprised to come home to the blogosphere and to the outrage over Magda and a bad joke. It is all about us, isn't it?

So I have had a good read of what was said and how people felt, and offer this useful compendium of responses:

I would like to thank Groover for the most thoughtful and probably (sadly) true response.

The best practical suggestion comes from Commie Canuck as a comment to the Bike Snob. I shall have to cut and paste here because you can only hyperlink to the full thread:
"You know what pisses me off? Fat BBWs on TV with fake accents staring at my lycra ass. We should all surround her house at 4am and do this." Count me in.

The mysterious bikesgonewild lashes out with what we all really feel, but are too polite to cut and paste onto our blogs. You'll just have to scroll down the comments on the Bike Snob link above. On ya bikes.

Finally, thanks to Ant for a cycling joke that really is funny, just to put things into perspective.

I hope Magda does get a new bike, and starts riding a lot, and gets really thin, and lives in fear of getting doored, just like the rest of us.

Monday, September 28, 2009

big weekend

It was a huge weekend, revolving around a party which revolved around the airshow. No wonder I was dizzy the next day. Or is could have been from taking photos like this. What a strange and unexpected result!
We had an awesome seat for the show in this lovely location:

This is Townsville's old hospital, and since our son lives here:

ie: the sold sign directly across, at the same level, we got to go to a mega party and BBQ (there are always sausages) with the developer and all the other residents and hangers on. Actually, we started in the Penthouse of our son's building,

which was excellent, but the old hospital was even better. There was much merriment and we pooled our champagne into an ocean it seemed!

Things grew a bit blurry at the end of the evening, then we cycled home! T'was a great night out. We did penance the next day, Boab painted (still!) and I put in a new garden, which has left me pretty much a cripple from all the bending and digging, but at least I didn't have to paint!

backing up

Shhhh... I am just sneeking a link to my presentation in Adelaide into my blog in case it all goes terribly wrong.

The Vegetation of the Wet Tropics Bioregion

you will see that I have misused my power as JCU BUG President to squirrel the file away in the BUG site. Honestly, why we can't just have a simple .ftp area at this Uni is beyond me.

WARNING - if you actually want to look at it, it's like 30 mbs or something, so only click if you can afford the download!!

OK, now I have to shoot you all because it is classified etc...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

dusty out there

Today's forecast is dusty, clearing as the day progresses. It is not nearly as impressive as images on the news yesterday from Brisbane and Sydney, but it sure tastes like dust out there, and the winds are strong out of the west. I just came to work this morning, no extra. Hopefully the way home will be a bit clearer.

End of day update - it is worse. I have a sore throat from cycling home. If you want to know what it looks like scroll down, look at the smoldering Pinnacles and imagine a wall of beige. This is because the storm rolled over us, went out to sea, then returned on the sea breeze during the day. And there is another dust storm on the way for Sunday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

OK, after actually BUYING the Townsville Bulletin, hours of imbibing red wine and lots of pencil work, here are the cycling results of people I know from the Corporate Tri:

Ladies Corporate

winning team!: Jenny Zumaran (swim), Karina Cullen (cycle) 26:28

Ranetta Eastmant (cycle) 30:06

Kim Malpas (cycle) 31:34

Male Corporate

winning team!: Alan Jefferson (cycle): 23:05

Peter Murphy (cycle): 25:41

Steve Dent (cycle): 24.40

Bradley Roots (cycle):25:25

Mark Renault (cycle): 23:55

Jim Flaherty (cycle): 26:17

Mixed Corporate

Mark O’Callaghan (cycle): 24:34

Stuart Kininmonth (cycle): 26:43

Tim Kesteven (swim): 10.01

Pam Jenen (cycle): 29:37

John McEvoy-Bowe(cycle):26:33

Byron Tucker (cycle): 24:05

Non_corporate female

Haley Grant (cycle): 24:44

Viv Evans (cycle): 27:34

Coral Grant (swim): 10:17

Sharen Adams (cycle): 28:00

Lyn Withey (run) 24:16

Non-Corporate Male

Tony Lewis (cycle) : 23:47

Jimmy Furnell (cycle):25:30

Darren Spina (cycle): 25:52

see you all at coffee on Saturday!!

spring and bushfires

Not quite as arresting as last evening, when the Pinnacles looked like Mordor under a brooding sky . I do wish they would make an effort to put fires out, but they don't, it will be left to burn and the poor critters will have little to eat, and the wet season is a long way off. At least it is very slow moving.
Some bright light also set fire to the riparian vegetation along the riverway too, so I ate ash on the way home. Come on rains...

Monday, September 21, 2009

this sporting nation

I am not much of an athlete, more of an athletic supporter (thanks to Stave Martin for the turn of phrase), but we have stories to tell as well.

Saturday saw BoaB and me on the Strand at 1pm to help with a high level race called the Nick Gates Classic. Google it and I am sure all will be explained. Anyway, there was a desperate call for volunteers and there we were, ready to stand on a corner or direct crowds or whatever, this is what races rely on. When we arrived the organizer told me, keep an eye on the parked cars. They were still clearing the street and needed to put a witches hat in each space as it was vacated so that cars were moved on. “No worries” says I .

So we are all standing around chatting and I see a car backing out. I grab a witches hat and put it in the space as they leave and return to the shady verge to continue the conversation. Imagine my surprise when a blond female of the glossy persuasion swoops into the space and flattens my witches hat! I am not a shy or retiring person, and I have a daily cycle commuters inherent dislike of delicate females in big 4X4s, so I approached the woman to instruct her regarding the error of her ways.

Well, Nick Gates his good self swoops upon me to chastise me that this person is his Wife. He than continues to berate me that the organization of his race is not up to scratch and that I am NOT DOING ANYTHING USEFUL. I explained that I didn’t care if this woman was Queen Mary, she has just crushed my witches hat, and anyway, I WAS a kind volunteer come to help out, but that the mood had left me and I was going home to do something useful with my weekend. Git.

So I missed the race but it was a fiction anyway with the local talent yielding to the big name. Blah.

On the bright side the 2009 Qld State Time Trial Champs (masters) were held “down South” in the generic south east corner of the State. I am thrilled to report that thanks to the jamin files we have seen some great results and pictures of the race. Sue Able, Tony Zanchetta and Les Preston from Townville all medaled in the event. Sue called today and let us know that Groover came over to introduce herself and wish them well, and that is just lovely. They all trained so hard and to see two golds and a silver come home is awesome. Well done!

Sunday was the TP Human Capital Corporate Triathlon on the Strand, and I swear Boab and me were about the only people we know not on a team (there were over 1000 in the event). So we went to cheer everyone on and it was just excellent. All our mates finished well and it was a fun day for all. I’ll be staying around next year to organize a big team from the Uni!

Oh, and I spent many happy hours vacuuming and sweeping my house and gardens. Like a strange archeological dig with no results. My knees and calves are killing me from duckwalking for ages as I cleaned up paint bits. About the only time it doesn’t hurt is when I am cycling!!

Friday, September 18, 2009


The painting is progressing really well, after endless days of scraping, grinding, sanding, Boab is finally getting the reward of actually getting some paint on and seeing it look good. We don't plan on selling the house for some time (Rusty is travelling well for an old dog), but it looks like we'll be painting til the first open house, even if that is a year from now. Trims and doors and sills and.....

And the dust. I thought I put in a good weekend of cleaning last week, I ain't seen nothin' yet. Everything, and I mean every last thing in and around the house is covered in dust. My plants, this computer, the floors, the baseboards...

Ah well, the worst has passed and all will be quiet next week as the painter returns (with a sigh of relief I suspect) to his ordinary day job.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Modern miracles

My mother skyped me today while I was at work. I was flailing away writing a paper I have to deliver in Adelaide in a couple of weeks, and up popped the little message to say she was online. Next thing I know the ‘phone’ is ringing and my headphones and microphone are on the shelf, so I scramble to plug in and hit the button. And there she is. 80 years old and with the video on, nice smooth connection, clear sound. I was just chuffed (that is Australian for really pleased indeed) to see and talk to her.

Groover can probably appreciate more than most what it means to connect so easily with loved ones so far away. It just means the world to me. Thanks Mom for being such a switched on geek.

I would also like to thank my Mother for being such an extraordinary role model. In the days when women were home makers she was working beside my Dad to fashion a fast food empire. And thanks for taking me to conferences when I was small. To this day I feel at home in a conference venue, and I present with great confidence because of this grounding. Thanks for not having an opinion about Cartography (and who could have blamed you if you did). Thanks for being so beautiful, all my friends were jealous.

My Mom reads my blog, so here’s to you. I am just so pleased to be your daughter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

the gift

The Bluenoser was nice enough to write about a wee token of my esteem I gave him when we rode the Loop. It was just a delight to give a gift to a mate you see very rarely, but who you share a common bond with. BoaB figures it is great to know another oil rig worker who is still in good nick. A link to our past life. And that is what makes the gift he gave me so special:
A new addition to my wee family of pet rocks from Nova Scotia. You can see that I have a weakness for granite and round. Bluenoser's is the little black and white beauty on the right. I would have loved to have taken a nice big one from his front porch, but I had to be sensible, what with baggage weight and all, and take a little cutie. I was moved that someone else sees a worn granite cobble on the beach and covets it. I always have.

So thanks mate! I have it in the shade so it can settle in to a tropical life. I bet they are trading stories in that dish. "what's your fathers name?..."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

thoughts while cycling

I have cycled a lot this week. I did indeed break the 400km barrier. And I have had some welcome time for reflection. I don't know what motivates some people to get up at 4:30 to cycle 4 hours before they go to the office. I can tell you what motivates me. I need to move. With the effort and repetition of cycling I can enter a zone of awareness that clarifies all the big issues in my work. I write text, sort out difficult analysis of data, sort my day ahead. And I veg – I listen to music and just make a big physical effort. Me time.

So this is the plan. I will do a training run a few days a week with BoaB, because this pushes my boundaries. I will concentrate on holding a wheel, because this is very hard for me, but there is no point in getting my license to race if I can’t master this. I will do hill work and deal with my pathological fear of climbing. I will climb on my bike every day and go with the flow. My body, my muscles, they know what to do, and I will listen.

I promise to take off one day every week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

go big

I know I shouldn't have done it, but I have ridden long and hard all week. The legs are holding up reasonably well, I have managed to get my work done even though I was in a complete stupor, and I nearly made it. Today I was just so exhausted I had to come home early and collapse in a heap for a profound nap.

So I will end with my best weekly total on Sunday of all time (nudging past 400kms). This of course will serve to make me feel guilty and inadequate every week from now on. But it was fun, and I really enjoyed it, but I don't think I can keep it up unless we get nap facilities at work.

I think I have lost a tiny bit of the German cuisine from around my middle, but there seems to be more to go.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

fun run

The team time trial was great fun. The morning was lovely and still, we had a cheeky red winged parrot to amuse us as he enjoyed some seeds from the top of the fence in front of the car. I have never gotten such a good look at one of these birds in the wild before, it made my day.
As usual I didn't have my camera so here is a reasonable fascimilie

Then we did a warm up training session. I had never done a proper rotational ride, so a few kms of practice and we were ready to start. 20km 'there and back', finishing in a group. We did 36 minutes, which is pretty slow since I am out of condition from travelling and a friend hasn't been training at all. But we had a blast and will celebrate at the BBQ to mark the end of the race season this evening.

Now I have to get in shape for next year! Can't wait to start training tomorrow.

Friday, September 4, 2009

on yer bike

Too much too soon. I couldn't resist a big ride before work this morning, and my legs have been killing me all day. For the first time compression tights don't ease the ache and I am nervous. Team time trial on Sunday, I'll have to go softly tomorrow to allow recovery. What a drag!

In the good news department, jetlag has seen me wide awake every day at 4am. I have to get up and get something to eat because I am starving. Then I may as well ride. So for the first time I am riding on a proper breakfast, and I can get 50 ks in before work, with the home journey a bonus. Hopefully this will not be a passing phase, but will turn into a good habit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

safe and sound

And back on my bike, not this bike. I want one like this someday, but not enough to pay someone like Electra way too much. It is surprisingly good on cobbles. I'd wear my helmet though. I hadn't planned on riding in Dresden and left the iconic yellow lid in Frankfurt. I had to wear a hat so I didn't feel totally naked. I crashed at the transition between cobbles and granite curbing as a bus bore down on me on a narrow road, so I am totally over any enjoyment of the 'freedom' of cycling without a helmet. I managed to jump up unscathed and get out of the bus drivers way.

Did a little coffee run this morning to test out the legs. My ankles were really swollen yesterday (what? after only 21 hours in an airplane?) but things are better today. the ol' pins felt like sandbags for the first few kms, but pretty good by the time we got home. I wanted to do a dam run but Scott wanted to get stuck into the painting.

Tomorrow I'll try to join the training group, if I can't hang on I know the coffee will be ordered by the time I get to the cafe. And then I suppose I'd better get stuck into some painting too...

Monday, August 31, 2009

nearly there

OK, now that I have left Germany how the heck to I get the internet to speak english to me again. *sigh*
A comfortable and uneventful flight and I am at Changi Airport, a veritable holiday destination in its own right. There is free wireless, a butterfly garden, and food with vegetables in it! I am in heaven! It is delightfully hot and humid in the butterfly garden, and I am now only two hours from my own time zone. I feel I am home at last.

Now I can have a shower, eat a vegetarian curry and chill out for a few hours before I board. Just one more sleep (assuming I sleep) and one more airport transfer and I will be home by noon tomorrow. I am all travelled out! Hope to get a ride in tomorrow evening : )

coming home - really

A few pictures of Dresden adventures. I forgot to download the latest last night, and now my camera is packed away, so maybe a few more later. But in the meantime, I have walked a hundred kms around the city, including for confrence workshops. So I have eaten a ton and I feel like the Michelin Man.But the city is stunning, between the conference overload and the city beauty overload I am fairly knackered and looking forward to vegging out all the way home. Unfortunately I have to write a conference report for the organiser, who caught me clutching a restorative beverage at the conference dinner and asked me if I would do it, and I foolishly responded "no worries!"
The day after the conference I managed to get in a ride on one of these babies!
You are supposed to rent them to look around the city, but I managed to persuade my native guide to explore farther afield, and we ended up doing around 45kms on them! My butt is in better shape than I expected, they are slow but surprisingly comfortable!

We had to return them to the city of course, so I got in a last coffee and cake near the zwinger.

I am on my way. Now that I am back in Frankfurt I can actually get t-mobile coverage. Warning, if you plan to actually leave the airport in Frankfurt and move around the countryside, DO NOT pay T-mobile for internet. I have been huddling on streetcorners, hugging phone booths, doing anything I could to fire off the odd email and skype my family. It has been poor at best.

But now I am on my way at last. I can't wait to get home.