Friday, January 29, 2010

funky town

OK, it has been raining about a week now. I have cycled to work every day, but with an eye to safety I haven;t done a lot extra because sharing the roads with motorists in the rain is just a really bad idea.

When I got home today I was forced to do something that is a big chore, but couldn't be put off. I wear the same knapsack every day, and I have for a few years now. Usually is is covered in salt stains but otherwise it is OK. After a week of being soaking wet, I can't bear it any longer. I can't quite describe the odor, probably just as well. It took ages to empty all the little hidy holes and pockets within pockets. I found a musli bar, gu packet and a ketchup packet that may date back years. It is now soaking in hot water, nappy san and bleach. If that ruins it so be it.

Worse, my helmet, my gorgeous, iconic, yellow MET is mouldering away and getting very strange. I will give it a hot shampoo, but I need to buy a hair drier or it will never dry out.

I am getting through two pairs of socks, two bras and now two jerseys every day. I should probably pack dry knicks too, but that just seems excessive. I have been wearing an old pair of volleys on the flat pedals of my utility bike, and they are now an evil shade of brown, and hunks of rubber are falling off them. And they smell.... funky.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

craving a long ride

Lots of folks would think I am a star for cycling in the rain every day, but I am feeling defeated. I rode Monday, did a hike Tuesday which left me lame, rode Wednesday and Thursday despite difficult conditions (like, the road into Uni was closed). But I will struggle to do a century this week. Even though I am doing my best, pounding out a ride to work on my old cheepie mountain bike, legs screaming up hills, I fail.

I want a long ride. I need a century of time and effort on my road bike. I feel like my lover has abandoned me.

I like my mountain bike very much. I am grinning through my rides and arriving soaked with sweat and rain, and covered in rotting vegetation, toad guts and God knows what else, but I am only half alive. I need to fly.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

stand facing the stove

Some day, I want the book of the same name. Irma Rombauer's my hero. That is one for the Aussies to look up.

Yesterday I made a mega batch of indian spiced nibblies, to use up all the odds and ends of nuts and cereals in the pantry. You just cannot have this stuff languishing around in the wet season, it goes stale. The recipe is:

Take a big mixing bowl and dump in nuts, cereals (cheerios and puffed wheat, but the puffed wheat is not great as is looses its puff and become wheat nuggets) and a packet of Chinese fried noodles, to a total of around 5 or 6 cups. Whip 2 egg whites to soft peaks. Fold in a quarter cup of curry sauce (I use Patak's madras) and then stir through the dry ingredients til well coated. Spread on cookie sheets and bake at 200 C for 15 min. Cool and store in airtight jars, especially if it is the wet season!

And here is a recipe for Jaryn:

Pumpkin pie (with a crumb crust)
Crush a half packet of granita biscuits and mix with 1/3 cup melted butter. Press into a pie plate, and up the sides. refridgerate.

To about 1 1/2 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin (squash if you are in North America) add
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs well beaten

mix until smooth, pour into pie shell and bake around 45 minutes at 180C or until well set. test with a satay stick, it should come out clean. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. North American whipped cream has sugar and vanilla in it. Therre is a name for this in Australia but it escapes me.

The bowl is full of apple sauce, since we are having roast pork for dinner. Surely everyone knows how to make apple sauce!

happy Australia day

It is a bit rainy, but that didn't stop us celebrating Australia Day with a proper bush walk rather than a bike ride. In Townsville the bush is in the very heart of the city. It is called Castle hill, and it was my very first time up the Goat track. I can't imagine why I never got around to doing it before.
Beautiful plants, most everything in bloom, the gullies running with water...

We got up all the stairs, the track has been built up to a high level of refinement in the last couple of years from the rough track that used to wash out every year

I was happy to have a couple of native guides to get us up the goat track, then down the Cutheringa track, which is a little more natural and less steppy.

Because it was wet there were very few people out. I am assured it isn't always a wilderness experience, usually more like rush hour. No wonder though, it is very pretty.
It really was a magnificent way to start the day, and it hardly rained at all, well not that you would notice. Nice and cool too. And since you are in the city you can have a good coffee before you go home. What a fantastic place to live.

This may become my Sunday routine. It is good to give the legs something to do besides pedal.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

battening down the hatches

Issued at 4:10 pm on Sunday 24 January 2010

At 4pm EST, ex-Tropical Cyclone Olga was located just off the North Tropical Coast near Port Douglas. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Neville was located off the Herbert and Burdekin coast. Both systems have weakened and are now part of a vigorous monsoon trough that is forecast to move onto the coast between Cooktown and the Whitsundays this evening.

Heavy rainfall is expected to develop this evening and continue on Monday and may lead to localised flash flooding.

Damaging wind gusts to 100 kph are expected in some parts of the exposed coast between Port Douglas and the Whitsundays.

Flooding rains will be welcome here. They are about the only sort of rains we get, and the dams are far from full. I didn't ride this morning, because the radar looked like rain was going to start bucketing any time, but it has failed to deliver so far and I am kicking myself for not getting out in cool, overcast if slightly cyclonic conditions.

Nobody ever regrets going for a ride, but you always regret not riding.

The week is looking bad, but I took tomorrow off as a filler between the weekend and Australia day, so I can take my fendered hardtail out for a fun run tomorrow and get good and wet. It is a whole different sport and will be a hoot. I figure I'll have the river circuit to myself too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

penalty lap

What with the tour down under on TV and all that, we rode this morning, came home, showered (this is NOT an optional extra or something to be put off while you stew in soaking kit) and I got stuck into the cleaning so I could relax and watch the full stage today from 11:15 til 3 or so.

So I did all that is needful to keep the place from looking feral and THEN I ate breakfast. I do consider stirfry and rice warmed up to be breakfast, especially if it has Louisiana hot sauce all over it. Then a cup of tea and bring on the tour.

By 1:00 or so my legs were aching. "You know" says I to BoaB, "I have really learned a lesson today about nutrition and recovery. If I had taken 30 seconds to drink an "Up 'n Go" when I got home, my legs wouldn't hurt so much"

"Kit up, go ride a loop around the river (about 12 km), come home and have the recovery drink, then put on your compression tights and you will be fine" says Boab. So I jumped up and did just that, and still saw the whole dramatic and fantastic end to the race, and you know what - my legs feel fantastic.

Monday, January 18, 2010

liquid mornings

It is hot, so hot. The humidity is very high, so cycling is like a water sport. I did a soft day, only 30 kms to and from work.

The smells are amazing. As you push through warm clinging air it is saturated with the flora of summer. Rich notes of rotting vegetation, but overwhelmed by heavy floral scents. The raintrees have heady blooms, rich notes of native gardenia, divine frangipani. Impossible sweetness of murraya nearly defeated by the honeypot stink of terminalia (java almond). Fresh patch of white ginger, lingering saccharine of night blooming jasmine.

I arrive at work feeling like I have been to a tropical spa. Dripping with sweat but totally relaxed by aromatherapy. Summer in the tropics is my favorite season.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

let the season begin!

11:00 - 1:00 pm
2010 Jayco Bay Classic Highlights

Sunday, 17th Jan
12:00 - 2:00 pm
2010 Natl Road Championships Highlights
4:30 - 6:00pm
Tour Down Under Classic

Fantastic! It isn't as good as cycling yourself, but what a great start to the year. Bring it on, lots to see this week, but we have to wait til Saturday and Sunday for full race coverage again.

for all the highlights from Australia. I wonder if Versus in America gets to show the full coverage all week? So far great racing in the Tour Downunder, with a surprise result and La Lance showing his class by kicking out in a crowd pleasing breakaway. This is sport.

earning some couch time

I figured I would spend more hours in front of the TV this weekend than I would normally do in a month, so I rather reluctantly agreed to do a big ride on Saturday morning. I had taken Friday off, I get one 'earned' day a month for working a little extra, and when I take a day off I don't fool around. It was a very leisure day with no cycling, my first day off the bike in a few weeks. I never left the yard. I don't consider a day with shopping of any kind to be a day off. I don't mind scrubbing toilets, but shopping is a real chore.

So with grumpy reluctance I went out Saturday with fresh legs to tackle my first big distance ride with a bunch. I have done 100kms ++ with BoaB, and close to that on my own, but never done it with a group. Ever.

First reaction on arriving at the rendezvous was total dismay. There must have been 50 riders. This is too many for a safe ride on a busy highway, so being the forthright person I am I loudly proclaimed that if the group was riding as a single bunch I was out of there. BoaB, the nice and diplomatic half of our couple, negotiated and we did indeed divide into two. Not everyone was happy and thanks to the sensible ones who voted to do it, you know who you are.
So off we took into the dawn 5 minutes apart, and I wasn't enjoying myself much, but I rode next to a guy I didn't know and he isn't a big bunch rider either, so we had a good whinge about the vagaries of bunches and just got on with it.

I played the classic hand of giving way to every rider that came back til I was at the end of the field, and there I remained until I had a chance to settle in a bit and size up the group, about half of whom I didn't know. As I grew more confident in them, and me, I moved up, and was ready to move into lead position when someone flatted and the group stopped and reformed. We were nearly at the turnaround, so we all rolled in pretty loosely, I ate a half a powerbar (gag reflexes prevented me from eating the other half) and we regrouped.

I lead out with a mate, and I trusted her to set a good pace and hold it steady, since I had flatted overnight and had a wheel 'not my own' with no magnet for my trippy on the front. We held up until she asked to drop back, a decent run I think, and my legs were still as fresh as.

By the time we got back I was thinking I didn't mind this type of riding, and I'll be looking to do more long group rides this year. It was fun and I met some nice folks. All good. I am coming along.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

occupational hazards

I have a paper cut. Actually, I have two paper cuts, but one is more annoying than the other. Cartographers are master paper handlers, because (surprise) we deal with print media, much of it large format (like tossing the sheet on your bed, only stiffer) every day. But champion that I am, I still manage to get a LOT of paper cuts.

This latest one is on the "web" between my right thumb and index finger. I got it archiving A4 (normal) size documents, and never gave it a thought. Then I rode home, cooked dinner, had a shower, yadda yadda, and pretty much ignored it, and the smaller cut on my middle finger, until I was cycling home today.

It was hot, I was sweaty, and I confess my gloves are not up to Department of Health standards of cleanliness. And so all my cuts stung. The one on the web is a real problem because it is opened by my hand position on my hoods. I have also had to change back to my old Vittoria shoes because I have a mysterious cut on the top of my right foot from the weekend and it bleeds if I wear my Pearl Isumi shoes. The Tropics is just such a weird and septic place in the wet season that if you ignore the smallest thing, it can blow up into a serious issue.

So here I sit slathered in Betadine (an iodine based antiseptic) because I have a paper cut, and a few contusions, and I am courting disaster. Such is life in the tropics.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


There are probably several women in Townsville who are littler than me, but not a great number. One of them is my hero, Ruth Corset:

Corset digs deep for national road title
January 9, 2010 - 7:04PM

Queensland mother of two Ruth Corset overcame illness and tough conditions on Saturday to win her first Australian open road cycling championship.

The 32-year-old went one better than last year's result, breaking clear on the last lap to take out the women's road race at the Australian road titles.

Corset was vomiting and cramping late in the 102km event on the testing 10km circuit at Buninyong, near Ballarat.

Only 29 of the 71 starters finished the women's road race as temperatures hit the mid-30s and strong winds also buffeted the race, while the men's under-23 road race earlier in the day had 30 finishers from 106 starters.

"I've just been wanting this more than anything," said Corset, who was second in 2009 behind Carla Ryan.

"It was very, very hard, tough conditions - I'm from Townsville and it's quite humid there, I'm not used to the dry heat.

"The last few laps I was throwing up, I couldn't hold anything down and that last lap was so hard, my legs were cramping, I just gritted my teeth and went for it."

Corset's husband Jason and her daughters Stephanie, seven, and Caitlin, five, were at the finish.

I probably don't have the guts to even try to do what she does, but I am glad she is out there as a role model for me, and more importantly, her daughters. What a star. Well done Ruth, best of luck in 2010.

justice is too rare

Los Angeles doctor gets 5 years in prison for deliberately striking 2 bicyclists with car. If only this happened to every road rager who does harm, and not just to cyclists. I hope when he gets out the cyclists take him for a slow ride and a coffee.

Friday, January 8, 2010

spiralling down to Friday

I kicked out on Monday, burned up Tuesday, rode hard on Wednesday, limped along on Thursday, gave it up and just rolled Friday. Hope I can keep up with the coffee riders tomorrow. If I drag my sorry ass onto a long ride Sunday I had better remember to pack lunch, maybe an afternoon snack as well. bugger.

AMR contacted me to ask how the training was going (or rather if training was going to happen). And he asked me about my goals for 2010. Up until then I hadn't really formulated any real goals (ride until I fall over, hope it doesn't happen til 2040).

So I cooked up a quick list, something like this:
To learn to group ride with some degree of comfort
To get my racing license and do all the skills training that goes with it
To do a road race and finish it, even if it takes me an embarrassingly long time
To do a long distance charity group ride (helps with the first one)
To ride with joy in my heart every day
To not let training or racing crush that joy

I should have added
To get to the top of a big hill without freaking out and stopping because it is too hard and I am going too slow.

That last one is probably going to be the hardest.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

back to normal

I have been slug lazy, too few kms. Now I am back at work so I have to get going and the universe has realigned. I cycle alone, ipod firmly plugged in and I just ride. I arrive at work with deep regret. I am just getting warmed up.

I apologise to all the lovely people I cycle with, most especially BoaB, but I can't find the zone if I ain't on my own. I have gotten soaked both days so far this week, and I loved it. I loved the ride, the way I feel. My legs are strong and I am just happy to be moving at speed. I love the time to think. I am in an R&D phase at work and there is so much to sort out. So many dead ends and work-arounds to figure out. My brain is busting with new stuff and the ride lets me compartmentalise it into manageable bits. Turns learning into knowledge.

I am going for some decent kms this week, and every week. I just have to get out the door early enough, then the ride takes care of itself. What magic, how lucky we are.

I got a couple of CDs from Nova Scotia today. Put them on the ipod for the trip home. Fantastic to listen to Stan Rogers after all this time, I may have shed a tear. Good riding and music tomorrow, don't care if it rains. Note to self, pack dry socks.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

slack as...

Early rain has kept me from riding today. It ended early and we could have gone out, but I had already poured a coffee and settled in with the online media, so we lazily stayed home. Tomorrow it is back to work, and I am not feeling ready at all. And I will have to ride rain or shine, ready or not. Commuting is the best motivator, you just have to get up and get going.

Yesterday saw me and BoaB start some core fitness work on the Swiss ball. I am taking it very easy as I have done a lot of ball training in the past, and I know how much it hurts to leap in with too much enthusiasm. Over the next 6 weeks I hope to ramp it up to a daily session, but I will start with low reps and 3 days a week, and increase from there. It is shocking how much fitness I have lost from "gym avoidance". I have set up my own gear on the breezy south east deck, and I can do my work with no nasty modern music, and a dog in attendance. I can achieve good fitness using the ball and small weights.

Back to the routines, old and new. It is time to think about goals.