Tuesday, March 31, 2009

signs of autumn

You have to be a local to notice autumn in the tropics. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the best times of the year everywhere, and the tropics are no exception. So I rolled out this morning feeling blah, with no intention of anything but the 15km ride into work. But the sweetness of the air was so lovely. The fresh coolness of the wind in my lungs. I knew after about a km that I was off to the dam before work, and I would have to really make an effort because I had left it late.

I had a few niggly muscles, but it is easy now to settle into the ride, and the further you go the better you feel. Muscles warm and the legs grow easy and flexible. I entered into that state of cycling which is just you, moving through space and time. I am probably vulnerable when I am cycling in the zone, I admit that. It adds time to your reaction to cars, but it suspends time on the ride. We are at risk on the road, but it is a risk I accept.

At my desk at 6 minutes past. OK, I was a bit late, but I had the day well sorted and I hit the ground running. I juggled variables and unseen difficulties all day. People with problems went away with problems solved. I was cheerful and productive. My cycling is my gift to my workplace.

bonus points- two people I talked to today about work related matters revealed (with great pride) that they had cycled to work today. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

another race day!

Boab is back racing! For the second time in his life a doctor thought he had heart issues, tested the shit out of him - and found that he was in great shape and was race ready. So out to Bohle this morning for 6am registration and a 6:30 start to criterion.

I took the day off. Sunday is usually a rest day for me, and since I was away from the 16-19 I have made a big effort and done over 500 kms since the 19th. So this morning I got up early, packed up lots of food and a big coffee, and headed to the race to support my team of one.

Just excellent. A clear, soft morning. Dark on arrival, there is the frantic assembly of the bike, check everything, shoes on and Scott does some laps of the course as the sun crests the horizon. Kookaburras make a loud fuss over daybreak. Riders hum past, and I enjoy a comfy chair and a hot coffee.

The racing starts. Kids and D grade, then B grade, then A. It takes a long time and the morning grows hot on the treeless plain. The crit is held at a new site, an industrial estate that has an excellent loop, and (as yet) little industry. We hope it will serve us well for awhile. Townsville is growing so fast it is hard to find a paved loop that remains quiet for morning racing.

There is a good roll up. Racers and family barrack for the riders in every race. Much hilarity ensues as some struggle and others triumph, and it is like a big family. ‘Sweet’ as we say in North Queensland. All friends. No foes. I like races.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

back to being a gardener

This blog is mostly about cycling (and whinging about work, apparently) but I am a gardener too. We have been on holiday from gardening. The wet season is too hot and too wet to garden, so you basically just abandon the yard and hope for the best come fall.

Today was the first coolish day we have had since spring. A brief regret that you forgot the arm warmers at 5:30 am, a blast of cold air as Mt. Lousia exhales at sunrise. The high today was probably 30, but our yard is cool and shady and moist, so it was much cooler, and we had a proper afternoon getting stuck into the gardening.

Gardening in the tropics means planting nice thing, then doing battle with them for the rest of your life as they try to take over. This wet season has been especially conducive to turning ‘plants’ into ‘triffids’.

Behold a few nice gingers we planted 5 or so years ago. They have been kept in check by the fact that, in Townsville, if you don’t water it, it dies. Not this year, they have spread into a full hedge, and I will have a ton to give away when I thin them.

 We cut them back today so you could actually see the torch blooms, and the smell of ginger in the yard was just divine.

Then there are the heliconias. Usually they bloom about chest high, and I go out and cut big bunches for the house. Right now they are 2 feet at least taller than me, and as much as I cut you would never know, they are just massed with bloom.

A true triffid is the Alamanda vine. We keep it in check, but only just. Our next door neighbour doesn't garden, so the threat of invasion from her side of the fence is relentless.

Our former veggie patch is crowded by the vines from next door. Scott will take the hedge trimmer to them soon.

Even though we are cyclists, we have a new car!

here is another angle with attractive old dog

It is prooving to be a great bike hauler, and easter weekend we will actually get a chance to sleep in it. I just love Volkswagens, and this is a beauty!

I told you it was all good!

Friday, March 27, 2009

it's all good

Looking at past posts I am surprised by the number of blogs about work, and in a negative sort of way. I am tempted to write an open letter to the vice chancellor, but what would that matter. I am deeply stressed, but I have manufactured a long string of soothing rides into a veritable granny square afghan of accomplishment this month, so how can I complain?

What can I say about my work and my life. I am a Cartographer. I am one of those annoyingly passionate people who lives and breathes work. I am a control freak. I have lost control of my work, and I am wounded.

So I am training myself to let go. Stop caring so much. They can’t take my excellence away from me. Take that Vice chancellor. I am. I ride. Work has receded to the white noise between rides. The hum of my wheels draws me forward, and I am content.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

100 posts

I have nothing to blog about, but I notice I have done 99 posts, so this will make 100. Cool.

The weather is getting perfect. I have been doing some big kms and I feel very fit. Work has stressed me out a bit, and today I felt knocked around. 

We don't have change management at our workplace, just sudden "get used to it" change. I try and coach myself though these episodes. I tell myself I have a good job, good pay, and it is not MY cartography centre, not MY map library. Don't form an emotional attachment to these work units! But I have, I care far too much, and it kills me to see good resources gutted.

Never mind. Each day starts and ends with a ride, a good ride in perfect weather. I am blessed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

back home

I am a successful person I suppose, valued as a professional. But lately I just don't love to travel like I used to. Nice hotels, good food, no bike.

I got home yesterday and this morning I decided to do a double ride to make up for a lost week in Brisbane. So I rode with the bunch at 5:30, came home for a bite and a coffee, then took myself to the dam before work. That's 62km before work. 82.7 for the day.

I have to confess it was just excellent, but I need to get together an outfit which lets me wear compression tights at the office. I could get up stairs all day, but getting down was a bit of an issue.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I never had much use for the word 'yearn', til I started cycling. Well, not lately. I remember yearning for a certain bloke who worked away for long periods, but I have him home now. So now I yearn to cycle. I think about it during meetings, when the mind wanders (as it does), and while I lie in bed at night. I dream of cycling, and wake up eager to get on the bike and ride. I turn into the uni at the end of my ride with sadness, not relief that the ride is done. I can't say when that happened. I used to suffer  - I still do. I had a sufferfest to the dam this morning, but the good thing about there and back rides is that a head wind out is a tail wind back, and that is what it was this morning. So I arrived at work elated, not slated. You would think 35 km to work would be enough, but I am planning a longer route.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

pretty quiet

It is quiet yet busy. We had no effect from the cyclone, which has stayed offshore and caused little damage. The marine scientists are all alarmed about the impact on the reef, but for the rest of us it is a relief not to have to deal with another storm.

Work is full on. I'd better get moving to get in a decent ride before I start, else I may have the energy to act upon my general pissed-offedness with how we are being treated by senior management. I suppose that is management's job, trying to keep the workforce mobile by preventing comfort. Too bad only the good ones are leaving!

Friday, March 6, 2009

hash and the circle of life

Yes, I was cooking hash tonight. I grew up in Nova Scotia, so I learned to live frugally. We were never poor enough that the kids would notice, but we never threw away good food. Those sort of lessons run deep, and I never throw away leftovers. They reappear in stews, soups, and the best of all - hash. I could probably be a vegan, because you can eat onions and potatoes, and anything else in hash is just a bonus.

So as I was cooking I was admiring the cast iron pan I was cooking in. It probably cost about $12.00, and years of seasoning and careful use have made it priceless. It is a thing of beauty, and it never sticks. Nice even heat.

And then I was thinking about my Dad’s frying pan. He has a six inch or so fry pan that is just the best. My sisters and I were talking one day, years ago, about which item could cause a war amongst the 4 girls when our parents estate is being settled, and we all figured it was that frying pan. Seasoned to perfection over 50+ years of use, it is the perfect egg cooker. We all love it like a pet.

And that got me thinking about a new frying pan. My only son is poised to move out, and he will need one. I will buy one this weekend so we can season it and start it on its long life before he goes. It is a family tradition, like frugal left over meals.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

official time

NAME                               Start            Time           Corrected          kph
Josh Hislop            1      14.30.06    13:30.06    44.44
Tony Z                 2.3    16.00.27    13:30.27    44.43
Aaron Ross             5      19.13.95    13:43.95    43.69

Adela Edwards         15      34.16.96    19:16.96    31.12

I didn't come last!! My legs have been crap lately though, so back to the gym for me tomorrow, and I'll try again another day. Even if I just do charity events (this one donated our fees to bushfire survivors) I will try and improve. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

maiden run

My first race was a learning experience. We cycled the 12 or so kms to the race, but then much standing around ensued and I started with cold legs. They hurt from the get go, and I couldn’t hold my imagined 35 and had to settle for around 32, with the promised sprint at the end. Disappointing, but you don't always get to have your best days with an audience.

The conditions were absolutely perfect. Still and cool, not a cloud in the sky after all that rain. The flooding had just cleared near the end of the run, so the whole road was dry. I got caught and passed by 2 riders, both of whom are strong guys so I am not surprised. I didn’t catch anyone, I never even caught a glimpse of the guy who started 30 seconds ahead of me.

I was very pleased that I managed the turn without looking like too much of a gimp, and that I managed a strong sprint to finish.

The results are not up on the web yet, so I don’t know my time. It was fun though. Well, hanging around for the start was fun, the ride sucked, the finish was excellent, the coffee and debrief after was excellent. I would do it again.

 Here is the route:

URL for this route is: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2596268


Use the satellite image because the map is as inaccurate as it is boring, and shows roads that don’t even exist.