Saturday, February 28, 2009

holy crap

Right. I am racing in a time trial tomorrow. I have not done any special training. I have no plan, or for that matter - skills. I intend to go as hard as I can (try and stay around 35kms/hr) and save something for the sprint home. I hope I don't fall over at the turn. I hope I don't throw up, ladies don't barf. I hope that Scott (Boab) - who has been sidelined by our doctor because of a medical condition - gets some fun out of the day because I am racing. And to Groover, this one is for you too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

checking in

I am heeeere! I just flew in from Cairns, where I have been making maps in a mad frenzy. 10 1:50,000 sheets in press, 10 more ready for press, six to go for the next 10. I am utterly spent, non-cartographers can't imagine the levels of concentration it takes to make a map perfect and press ready, and fair enough.  I assure you that perfection costs.

 I really enjoy working on this project. I figure it is the culmination of my long career in thematic cartography and scientific communication. I have never enjoyed a more cohesive and close knit team than me, Mike, Karsten and Ellen. A global effort, we have jelled into the sort of marriage that communicates volumes with a few grunts. I love these guys.

 We get the first 10 sheets in glorious, water resistant hard copy next week. To be a part of mapping history, order your copies of the Vegetation of the Wet Tropics Bioregion right here. They are stunning and I am very proud, only 34 sheets to go! 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

sunny and hot

Now that the rain has passed I have had some great rides to work. The flood waters are falling fast and the smell along the river is 'interesting' in places. I am taking new detours daily as roads are closed for crews to fill and patch damage caused by runoff. We don't have ditches in this part of the world, and I figure that is most of  the problem for most of the roads, but hey, they have their own way of doing things.

The sun has been shining and the forecast is "sultry" the word I fear more than "cyclone". Good thing the airconditioner is fixed, I can cower inside and do extra cleaning to battle the ever reappearing mould. Outside plants that were thrilled and growing fast during the rains are burning to a crisp in the sun. Actually I think they are stewing. Either way, some things are looking poorly right now.

A big roll up for the coffee ride this morning. The owner of the coffee shop must be very relieved to see all the fair weather cyclists come out, blinking, into the sun. I am always smugly pleased (when notes are being compared about rides) to be able to report that I rode every day last week. It was perfect! I have missed few days riding because of the weather, and some of the most excellent rides have been in rain and on my old hard tail.

Please everybody, get a cheap and nasty bike for those dirty days. It is a blast.

Monday, February 16, 2009

training rides

People always ask me why I ride so much, and I have developed a repertoire of answers ranging from “because I can” to “preparing for old age”. The real answer was found today when the phone rang at about 3:30. Boab – “get going soon if you can, there is a big thunder storm about to crest the range.” Just then an email arrives from the University: “Severe thunder storm warning, leave now if you live in a low lying area or have concerns about safe travel”. So I whipped off the nice dress and whipped on the daggy, damp cycling gear and off I took.

The sky was dark slate. Lots of thunder the back of Mt Stewart. I scalded home. If you need to do 40 kms/hr, it is good that you can. I didn’t even stop to fill my water bottle, so I got home hot, dry, and relieved.  A big glass of water in hand I stood on the deck and listened to the rain, like a freight train, coming towards the house. I made it with at least a minute to spare.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

waterfalls on Mt Stuart

Waterfalls on the mountains around Townsville are a rare treat, so I am always on the look out during heavy rains for this ephemeral sight. I am learning to like the rain, and enjoy cycling when it is raining now. I have learned to take extra everything so I don't have to put on soaking clothes at the end of the day, and so my commute is very pleasant. I selfishly enjoy the lack of traffic on the bits of the bikeway I can still use, and cars on the connecting roads seem pretty sympathetic and polite. Most of the glass on the roads has washed away (probably into the potholes). 

The downside is the state of the garden:
At least the stuff in the raised beds should be rotting down quickly.

All things considered, I did well to get more than 150 kms under the wheels this week. All on my old hard tail mountain bike too, which I am really enjoying hauling along on the daily grind. My legs feel tired today, which is a good indication I am building some fitness pushing a much heavier bike. I hope so, and I'll be doing it all next week too. 

Hard to say when the dry weather will return, or how long it will be till the roads on my commute are patched enough for the road bike. At least I am still having fun.

Friday, February 6, 2009

40 days and nights

With no end in sight. Time to post a few pics.
Black's Weir, which is usually just a concrete wall

a cyclist fed up with taking detours. I hung around to make sure he didn't get snapped by a croc!!
The view from my office window is bright on even the gloomiest days

 Finally, a before and after shot of the bridge across the mighty Burdekin, taken one year and 2 weeks apart. The shots are from reverse directions, but the same eucalypt tree (to the right of me on my bike in shot 1) is to the left in shot 2. (I think)

Yes the water is now 5 metres (that's around 16.5 feet) OVER the bridge. In the dry season it is around 16 metres below the bridge. Impressive.

Oh look! It is raining again! Yes I rode in today, and I'll ride home. I bought fenders and I am getting my monies worth out of them!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

thanks for looking

I have just been paying attention to the little map and list that shows where people are from who look at my blog. Cool! To the person in Amherst NS - hey! I used to work at MRMS! Kevin- I know that is you in Croatia. All the Brisbanes are me and BoaB )and maybe Groover!), because Townsville doesn't exist at that tiny scale.

Anyway, thank you all for coming. Sorry we couldn't have tea. I will get some nice photos up tomorrow, I left my cable at the office (doh).

a window of opportunity

The rain has eased. We are still cut off to the north, south and west, and east lies the sea. Actually, in cartographic fact, versus common thought, we are cut off to the south, east, west and north lies the sea. Well, actually, it is a scale issue, very small scale maps are scenario one, larger scale is 2. Cartographers are such geeks.

I have been loving riding without rain. I still get home muddy, and the route is very circumlocutious. Much of the bikeway is deep under water, so there are lots of strange side trips to keep me more or less on my chosen route.

The river is full to bursting, the dams are booming with overflow, and we have king tides and a major rain event forecast. I am very glad I live in a high house. Not only is it breezy, but it is far from the ground, and I think we may loose sight of that this weekend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

no cycling here!

It is really, really rainy. 
That low on the north east of Australia is sitting pretty much on my house. I cycled to work on Monday on my "super commuter" MTB bike, and it was hard pushing through water up to the hubs! Getting to work dripping wet and dirty is fun though, and I had a grinny trip to work. This morning it was just too wet, the rain was coming down like a wall of wet, so I took the bus.

I think I will probably ride tomorrow, no matter what. The council workers were putting up barriers over part of my route when I walked over to check out the weir this evening, but I can find another way. The wet season is a rare adventure. 

There is currently close to 2 metres of water flowing over the dams along the river. Most of the bikeway is submerged. The rain is pelting down, we have had more than 300 mm in 24 hours, and our guest, in the guest room on the ground floor woke up with cold water up to his ankles. I would love to drive out to Charters Towers tomorrow, to see the river almost 7 meters over the Macrossan bridge. It is usually around 16 metres under the bridge, so WOW!!!

I'll take some photos tomorrow. We are dry and safe. There is another cyclone brewing for Friday...