Saturday, January 31, 2009

News from the neighbourhood

From the Townsville Bulletin:
This snake was a few streets over from us, I wish he had gotten through a few of our possums before they moved him on. It was lovely to read the story in the paper, a local snake handler enthused about the quality of wildlfe habitat in our neighbourhood. I totally agree. 

We got a decent ride in today, and the rain held off all day, there were even "bright periods". My neice was visiting, she was driving north from Mackay to Cairns, but the roads were closed in a few places north of us, so she stayed overnight. It was lovely to catch up, I hope they made it through because things are closing in again.

Thanks to the rain I am short of my intended monthly. I'll try and do extra in February.

Friday, January 30, 2009

a spell of weather

My 1000 kms for January is not looking good. I only need 150, but I can't get a break in the weather, and have been without a ride for days. This is starting to look like an attractive alternative:The good news is it has been too wet to paint. I am pleased to procrastinate til Easter with the painting. The bad news is that even I, super cleaning woman, am barely keeping ahead of the mildew and mould. I went to take my card out of my wallet the other day, and it was all white and furry in there. Good grief.

So it looks like climate 'change' has come full circle for the locals in Townsville. This is a proper wet season, like everyone remembers from their youth. No end in sight for the next several days. Oh listen, it is raining harder!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

happy Australia Day

It is a rainy Australia day. The big ride had to be canceled, but that is OK, we'll do it another time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

on holiday

That's right, even though we just had leave over Christmas, we are on holiday again. We thought we would take in the TDU this year, but what with one thing or another we haven't. However the leave was booked so we are just hangin' around relaxing.

I am relaxing by cleaning house. One of the joys of life in the tropics is the ease with which one can slip into being a member of the Addams family.

You may laugh at that spider, but he is lurking behind the couch even as I type. And he is making webs, and conspiring with gekkos to commit bloody murder on my walls. There is mould spreading across every surface. It takes just one wet season here to turn your house from home beautiful to this :

unless you are seriously committed to clean.

I read once that the reason the Dutch are so very tidy is because they developed their cleaning regime in damp North Sea salty conditions. Used to maintaining constant vigilance against mould they overcleaned anywhere else they migrated to, and thus had the spankiest house on the block.

Sadly, having grown up in the sterile storage unit which is Canada I am sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning required to keep my house from looking like an abandoned property. So I am having a very Dutch holiday, with many a happy hour up a stepladder and dishpan hands at the end of every day.

 I have to do something with my energy, it is too thundery to cycle, and I have been two days without a ride.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Big cycling week

Not for me, for the people who are the real deal. First, Ruth Corset, local triathlete turned cyclist extraordinaire won silver in the Australian Open Road Championship. I didn’t see a notice in the local paper about this, but then if it isn’t online I don’t see it, I wouldn’t kill a tree for that rag. Anyhow – this happened on the 10th but we only got to see it on TV Sunday, and it was great to see the good coverage of the women’s events and to see a local sporting hero on the podium. Good for Ruth!
Ruth of course is resplendent in the Queensland Academy of Sport Maroon.

Then the really big news in the Tour Down Under, another Queenslander Robbie McEwen won the Cancer Council Classic with a brilliant sprint at the end. Yes Lance was there too, and managed to refrain from getting hurt in the crit., which must have seemed a good result for the first time back in a mad bunch.

I have been following the carnival in Adelaide which surrounds the race on a local news site, Adelaide Now , which has some good clips for those of you far away. I especially like this one:
Lance's new bike, it is not the usual drill.
(excuse the advert for a bad American movie at the start). I like that we still have some upstart funky young people like the vegan cyclist to take the piss out of things. Australia is good that way.

And of course I am on leave for the next two weeks. Plan “A” was to go to the Tour, but life, a difficult to book doctor’s appointment and common financial sense prevailed, so we are cycling here and watching the action on TV.  Hopefully a fair few kms this week, rolling easy in preparation for a ride from calcium to Charters Towers. Most of the group is cycling from Townsville, but I actually really enjoy the half ride and would find the full ride a drag, so the half it is. It will be about 80kms for me, most enjoyable rollers after the climb up Mingela range (which is so easy even I can do it). Then a cool swim at the local pool, a day of cricket and home again to watch the recorded live coverage of the final day of the TDU. Busy, busy.

On a sad note, we lost another cyclist this weekend, up in Cairns. I haven’t read the details in the press yet because I am just too sad. Maybe later. There will be a memorial ride. I need to go to the office tomorrow (yea, I know, but just tomorrow!) and I will post the details on the JCU BUG site. I hope it makes drivers stop and think, but I doubt it.

On a happy note there are a few thinking drivers, and I will be contacting a local company tomorrow to personally thank them for the kind actions of one of their truck drivers, who caught me at a pinch point this morning, realized there was oncoming traffic, there was no room because I had no place to go, and braked til we were all clear. Such a simple and sensible thing, and if he hadn’t done that there might be a memorial ride in Townsville too.

Ride safe. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

obsessive compulsive behavior

I have cycled about 30 kms so far this week, and I am freaking out! I thought my natural laziness would make non cycling days a pleasure, but I have a burning need to get out there and do it. I need a long ride!

We have had near cyclonic conditions for the last 3 days, big winds, heavy rains. The bikeway is a disaster zone of leaves, branches, washouts of sand and mud. I took the Toorak Tractor this morning (that would be the Myka). What a hoot blasting along in a straight line no matter what lay ahead. I love my road bike, but that dual suspension tractor is a hoot. I need to work on the set-up, my knees were sore after such a short ride, but I just love it. I am taking a couple of weeks off with Boab to do some chores and watch the TDU on telly, and I figure we may have to make a few trips on dirt for the fun of it.

I saw a post somewhere about “if my bike was a car” and I figure this sort of thing is very educational for all those who don’t get it. So here is my take:

Sorry for the tiny picture, but this is the best I could find. My first car was a 1971 mustang grande 351.

I cannot believe this car did not kill me, because I was reckless, 16 and bulletproof. There seemed no limit to how fast or how far, and the feeling of driving that car was just indescribably exciting. Which makes the Specialized Dolce WSD road bike a bargain, because it is just as thrilling if no less dangerous.

It is very funny too that I can google an old car, and find the exact model with the same paint job and vinyl roof, but I can't find a picture of the bike. What does that say about car culture ruling all.

I have already revealed the Myka is my Toorak Tractor. For those of you not familiar with Melbourne’s suburbs, Toorak is an enclave of the rich, and calling an over-engineered, luxury 4WD a Toorak tractor is a derogatory way of dismissing a lot of money spent by soft, wealthy housewives on vehicles they will never drive in the conditions for which they were designed. Pretty true.

Then there is my Avanti escape hard tail mtn bike. If that piece of crap isn't a 20 year old volvo I don't know what is. But I take good care of it, and it has fenders and panniers and it hauls ass and groceries, and gets me where I need to go. But honestly Avanti, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Monday, January 12, 2009

adverse conditions

Cyclists are slightly mad, which is why I headed out as usual for a ride to work this morning. It was raining, but not too hard, and I took my utility mountain bike with christmas panniers on board so I could pack some serious groceries to work. I made it for 10km, then I got a flat, and realized I was packing a pump and no spare tube. Doh. So hike a heavy bike 5 kms to the office in the rain. I suppose some would grouse but I actually enjoyed it. It was a great stretch for my legs, and in the current cyclonic conditions I was glad to have my feet on the ground. Winds were 'challenging'.

The rain built in from the north and by 10 am we were all looking out the window and speculating what time the road past Nursing Science would go under (the main way out). It was dark and the rain got to the point it looked like snow, a complete white out. Boab came and rescued me and my bike around 3:30 pm, the creek at Nursing Science was just cresting the road.

So now we are snug and secure in a closed up house while the rain pelts down. We are cold, the temperature has fallen to 20 celcius. I am not used to having the french doors closed and it is odd, the acoustics are weird. The rain is loud on the iron roof.

Today is the first day of my new diet. I am as slim as I want to be, but my wretched cholesterol has crept up to near 7 again, despite my fantastic physical condition. I am just gutted. I can't cut fat like I used to, I need fat to perform, so I have read up on diets for athletes. The Australian Institute of Sport site has some excellent advice. So I am cutting the red meat, killing off some bad habits and giving up cheese, and that really hurts. We'll see how I go over the next 6 months. Bummer!

Last weeks total - 283 kms

This week is looking grim as we have a big tropical low and flooding.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I went back to the gym Wednesday, and I have been suffering ever since. I cut back on the repetitions, and went easy (I thought) and geeze I have been in agony. My chest is killing me (pushups) and I thought my legs were going to collapse from under me when I got off at the dam yesterday. Why on earth am I doing this I asked myself.

Well today provided the answer. I had crosswinds that shook me, had me looking to see if I had a flat tire, and generally beat me up. I was hanging on tight and pedaling like mad to go 29 kms/hr downhill this morning, into an impressive headwind. All I could think was “thanks heavens I am strong, thanks goodness I have been working my upper body”. 

So I will recover over the weekend, and back to the gym on Monday. Strong matters. 

Stay safe.

don't get mad, move forward

Reading other peoples blogs is (IMHO) a better way to tap into our society than reading the news. Sometimes blogs make me think long and hard about issues. This blog from the LFoaB has had me thinking a lot. I always feel hurt, sadness and outrage when car drivers spout hatred towards cyclists. I want to defend my tribe. All of the hardwiring we carry to encourage us to rise up and make war against each other starts to spark and crackle. We are programmed to have an angry response to anger, but civilised people suppress the response and carry on.

Then this blog entry from Holland got me thinking about what our governments give us for transport infrastructure, and why conflicts arise. We can’t stop “them vs us”, people will always devolve into tribes and look for conflict. Look at the anti vs pro helmet debate that goes on amongst cyclists for crying out loud!

What we can do is thank people like Joe Soucheray for reminding us that the old way of doing things just isn’t working. It isn’t good enough to pretend people don’t cycle in winter, or that on road bike lanes are the best solution. Sure they are a cheap solution, but cheap is usually nasty, so a nasty response to cheap should be expected. The reaction to this sort of conflict needs to be a collective rolling up of the sleeves to fix the problem. Governments are spending up on infrastructure to combat the recession. Cyclists who are forced to share Soucheray’s turf should start asking for a big piece of the funding pie. Confound the enemy by slapping him on the back and saying “welcome aboard, we totally agree!” Spin all that anti-bike energy into a pro bike infrastructure lobby. Make the car centric bas*ards do some work on our behalf.
Good luck! It isn’t going to be easy, not even for those of us who don’t have the cold climate issues. Cyclists can see a clear way forward to the future, and it is up to us to realise that vision for everyone. They may even thank us one day.

Thanks to Streetsblog for the photos.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bikeway warrior

Twin Six sent me an email with the t-shirt of the month, and I had to have one.The bikeway is an important constant in my life. No matter how I opt to go to work, the bikeway will form part of the ride. It is always beautiful, and a great place to appreciate the seasonal changes in the dry tropics. The lotus grow, bloom and disappear. The backdrop of hills changes from green to khaki to beige, sometimes to black if fires are lit. The sweet smell of raintree blossom overwhelms twice a year, the path is littered with leaves at the end of the dry.

I have a pact with myself that I will be an ambassador for cycling on the bikeway. This is especially important in these early weeks of the year, when the path home at the end of the day is clogged with people newly resolved to get moving. Lots of wobbly newbies on Christmas bikes. I so hope they are still part of my routine as confident cyclists come Easter. New walkers, puffing in bunches and reacting in terror to the ring of a bike bell. I always slow down, have a cheery word and a laugh. I never blow by at high speed, aloof and superior, but I know lots of others do. So I am in damage control, trying to show that nice people cycle too, and I hope I make a difference.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy 2009

Lots of people are posting their mileage for 2008, but I confess I didn't keep track. So I will this year since it seems the 'thing to do'. I estimate I must have done around 8000 kms last year, so that will be my base point.

While Nova Scotians have been enjoying this
We have been enjoying this

And watching blokes fish, sometimes with surprising results. 
They were very skilled in getting this beautiful ray quickly off the hook and back in the water. 

We took a kidnapped beer bag to exotic places:

But we didn't cycle any more than your average blizzard bound maritimer, so there you go. After a nice break and visit with my sister and brother in law we are back home  and tomorrow is a working day. I confess I am mentally unprepared to go back to the office so I will get up early and take a long ride before I get there so I have time to think about what needs doing and plan my week. Rain willing of course.

I am looking forward to a couple of weeks of the cycling/work/cycling/eat/sleep/repeat continuum to shift a couple of kilos and get my endurance up.  Like well meaning individuals everywhere I also intend to pay my dues at the uni gym and get stuck into it a couple of times a week as it makes a big difference, even though it is an awful bore. I will get Scott a membership too as we seem to be good encouragement for each other. The new sports facility looks really nice, I just hope the low fees we enjoyed in the old daggy gym haven’t changed too much.

My sister Carol has a birthday the end of the week, so here is a nice bouquet I picked in my yard this morning, wish I could get it to your living room!
The grass I cut back is shooting nicely as predicted, thanks very much for the advice.