Monday, June 28, 2010

slacker

I didn't race on Sunday. After a festive evening it seemed a good idea to lie in, have a rest day. Now it gnaws at my guts that I didn't even try. *sigh* When did cycling become such an imperative? When did I loose the right to choose?

Ass up tomorrow for a bash to the dam. It may turn cold and rain this weekend, in true "show day" tradition in Townsville. I will race this Sunday. I must.



wasting time

I am fooling around instead of buckling down. I was tired of the old look of the blog and couldn't resist a fresh change. I'll have to get a decent photo that matches for my header. Or maybe a sideshow, or a widget...

At least now it looks a bit more like what is out my window, and all around as I cycle.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

fun with trucks

My first road race today. I love Hervey's Range. It is majestic and rolling. So I was excited to be racking up for my first road race this morning. It was cool, but better than I expected (around 15C) and after a night of tossing and turning and listening to the wind fairly lashing all night, it was dead calm up there.

As we waited for the race organisers to do all their chores it was a bit shivery on the side of the road. And the trucks. There must have been 20 go by in a short time and I was getting nervous about the race. Big ore haulers, lots of army weird trucks, cattle trucks. Every one went by and you could feel the slam of air and the roar of their passage. I am terrified of trucks.

Time came to get going and off we took. I am shivering by now and my legs have seized up so I am not making a swift start. The rolling hills begin at the beginning and I am thinking that I really need to do some hill work because this is very hard, and then on only the second roller the WOFs of D grade attack and I am on my own. So I settle in for ITT and suffer up the hills and pedal like a mad thing down the hills trying to make up time. Plan A (stay in the big ring) goes out the window after about 15 kms as the latic acid makes me slow down. I ease up and increase the cadence and I feel better.

40kms out and back. The last hill before the turn is actually a hill, and as I haul up it I manage to think how lucky am am that the day is clear and blue, and the sun is warm on my back, and I am having a good (hard) time. Then crest the hill, fly down to the turn, face the hill that I just flew down (doh) and now I am lucky that I have hardly seen a truck and that gets me back up and heading home. I think it is a lot more downhill than uphill on the return (I haven't ridden it before) and now I am at least getting some speeds that are not just embarrassing. My legs are warm and loose and I feel good.

In what seems a short time I am nearly back to the finish line, and I approach the last narrowing of the road to cross a bridge. I see a road train will hit the bridge about the same time coming from the other direction. I don't have time for much thought, I signal right and take my lane so that when he goes by and I am swept a half metre to my left I am away from the edge of the bridge and don't hit the curb. My heart pounds.

I see the finish line ahead and I pour it on for the downhill finish, but as I near the road is covered in cyclists and I have to break to avoid them. I am still shaking from the truck and I see red. I holler at the bastards to have a little respect for the lantern rouge, and I rip a strip off the chief commissar. Do you want to make a formal complaint? Yes, I am now. You can tell a lot about a club by how they treat their weakest members, and I am not impressed with mine, but it is the only game in town.

I was the slowest rider today. But I got some hills under me, and I really enjoyed the race. I'll be back, if only to annoy the pack. Trucks and all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.




Monday, June 14, 2010

just happening

It was the Queen's birthday this weekend. Actually it probably wasn't really, but it was a Monday off work so who cares. We slept in late (for us) and had coffee and hot French loaf we had prepared the dough for in the evening. Then we wandered out into the morning and got stuck into some gardening. Gardening isn't something you intend to do when you step outside, it just starts with a weed pulled, and then some fallen leaves swept up, and before you know it you are in a pruning frenzy and the beds have been edged. Gardening just happens.

A pause for lunch and we decided to deliver a DVD back to a friends house. It isn't far so I just pulled on an old pair of knicks with my t-shirt, shrugged on my trusty knapsac, filled a waterbottle and off we went. It is about 6 kms to our friends place where we popped the DVD into the mailbox, as they were at the movies. Want to go to the dam? Sure, so off we went. What a nice day and I am rolling along and the cars are passing us and I realise they probably think we are doing something purposeful, like exercising, or training. But we aren't, we are just riding - for the shear fun of it. Would the average punter get that?

It is clear and dry so I drink up and refill at the dam (the ranger assures me that the tap on the side of the donga is safe, it is the one at the front which isn't potable - well so far so good) and suggest we do the Kelso loop. Away we go and it is marvelous, the sun on our backs and a fresh cool breeze, you could cycle forever. The surface is rough out there though, so my elbows and shoulders are glad to get back on the main road, and we turn onto the bikeway and home.

45kms to deliver a DVD. My T-shirt is soaking, and I am cold as soon as we stop moving. People who don't get lycra have obviously got no sweat glands. What a lovely day, sometimes cycling, like gardening, just happens.

Saturday, June 12, 2010





It has been a pretty basic week. I have probably cycled a bit too much, but I seem to need the hours on the bike for my soul, and my body will just have to cope. My neck and shoulder are feeling much better, and since borrowing a book from the JCU library recommended by the Bluenoser called "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook" I expect things to really progress. It is amazing that when you start digging around as they describe you find a really sore bit, manipulate it some, and it feels way better.

Anyway, when you have had a slow news weeks it is a good thing, and I here by offer you some filler in the form some photos taken minutes ago in my beloved yard. Behold a veggie bed in full flight. The squash to the left looks so bad I nearly pulled it out, until I realised it has cascaded down the back of the bed and is healthy and green on that side.
We have a wee spider in the front garden. It is a golden orb spider, and when the light catches the web just right it is indeed a metallic golden yellow. BoaB has a decent sized hand, and there is another of these spiders high in the back yard that is way bigger.

I think she is lovely. The male is in the picture too I thought, but he is such a wee thing that you can't see him at all.
Winter means orchids in bloom. Notice the high fence. I have really adapted to the enclosed yard, and love the feeling of privacy a six foot fence gives. I think in a "big city" like Townsville (hold your guffaws all you big city types) that you need a bit of control over your patch. We actually padlock the gates.
I love the true orange of this hibiscus, but it requires serious spraying to keep the insects from ruining the blooms, hence they are not perfect because I am a bit organic in my approach.

So that is it. I had a good week cycling (will easily roll 300+), and my legs are tired. Rusty is responding well to shots for arthritis and is full of beans. Good news from Boab who has moved buildings and is improving quickly in the bronchial department. Work is still fun, we have a great crop of honours and phd students this year and they really stretch me and inspire me.

It's all good.

Monday, June 7, 2010

ouch

The bad news is I seem to have done myself an injury. The good news is the only time it doesn't hurt is when I am cycling. I have done something to the muscle that runs from behind your neck and into your shoulder on my right hand side. Sleep has been difficult the last couple of nights, but I had a date to ride this am, so I was up early and out the door and too bad if you are tired.

Groover was wondering about tricks to get yourself moving on these colder mornings and I would have to say that a promise is the most persuasive. If I tell you I will be there at x o'clock, I'll be there if I have to crawl the last km. So it was on the bike and out to meet someone who is keen and new to town. I would have wimped out for sure if a promise had not been made. My neck and shoulder hurt, I was dog tired and it was 13 degrees.

I opted to wear my Skins bibs, which have a top like a bathing suit, under my SUB warm jacket. It was just right. My riding partner is from Canberra and she was surprised by the jacket. "Are you hot in that?" Hardly! it is easy to vent with the front zip, and I was toasty and happy. The Skins knicks are really nice. I like something close to my torso when it is cold, plus they fit beautifully and the chamois is perfect. Sadly I got them for about half price because they were end of the range last pair.

We had a nice ride, then I turned for work and rolled up in good time. I had a hot shower and changed for the day, and got in about 2 hours work at the computer before the pain became so bad I had to get up and move around. Being a mouse jockey shouldn't hurt so bad, but drawing a map today was harder than climbing a hill.

Desperate, I booked some physiotherapy for the end of the day. I rode there (I chose the practice because they are practically on the bikeway) and now I have been painfully manipulated, acupunctured and electronically bothered, and relieved of cash. I am sore and tender, but at least I tried. I'll settle down with a hot compress later and hope for the best. Soft day tomorrow as I need to ride to the city for a workshop, then out to work. It will be a fair number of kms, but not training pace.

But I have a date for Wednesday, and I can't wait for a good ride.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

curry extravaganza

Well I am exhausted. I invited the "Ladies who Lunch" mob to a curry class, as my contribution after the fabulous pasta class. (Yes I dropped a big wad of cash on a pasta machine and yes I use it weekly.)
Here is the menu:

Cucumber, yogurt and mint riata
Cucumber, red onion, tomato and fresh coriander riata
Carrot salad

Punjabi cabbage
Goan beef
Lamb Rogan Josh
Spicy grilled chicken

Dessert
Payasam
Gulab jamun

I made three different meat curries (sorry Theresa) as a demonstration of the ease and versatility of this wonderful cuisine. One with raw spices and coconut based, one with raw spices and yogurt based, and one with all spices roasted and made into a paste for marinade. Two of these needed to be prepared the night before to develop the flavors. So after work yesterday I came home and rolled up my sleeves and made the two marinades (toasted and raw spices) then the two desserts I had chosen. I am not a dessert person and this was the biggest challenge. Also, I have not eaten the two desserts, so I don't know what I am doing.

The gulal jamun are like an Indian tim bit, soaked in rose flavoured syrup. The weird part is that they are mostly skim milk powder. BoaB tackled these. He made the mixture to the recipe, and the mix was sloppy. so he added more skim milk powder, and it became uber stiff and even a strong guy was challenged to stir it up. Then he made perfect little balls and I deep fried them, then put them into the rose flavoured sugar syrup I had made.

Next was the pyasam.
This is a picture stolen from the interwebs, mine was nicer.
It was daunting, and by now it was late and all I had time to eat for supper was toast and hummus. Lucky for me my local Chinese grocery is fabulous, and they had helped me source the ingredients, including an already toasted vermicelli which saved me a whole step. This involved boiling tapioca, rinsing it, boiling the toasted vermicelli in milk, frying off the raisins and almonds, the combining and cooking everything to a thick pudding. The end result was very beautiful. I made a dozen cups of it and garnished with more fried nuts and raisins, and shredded coconut, then bunged them into the fridge and tumbled into bed. 4.5 hours of cooking after a long day.

Saturday morning was the usual 5:30 start to the coffee ride, then a quick java and home to do a final spit and polish, make all the veggie things, and get ready to greet the ladies AT 11 am.

To settle everyone in and welcome them I made chai tea. My own invention based on what I like:

600 ml water
600 ml low fat milk
3 tbs sugar
2 star anise
5 whole cloves
one cinnamon stick
half a teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 tsps black tea

bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly to prevent boilover and make a nice foam for a few minutes (allowing tea to steep). pour into a coffee plunger and plunge to serve.

one more recipe by request, the carrot salad:
peel and coarsely grate 6 carrots, sprinkling as you go with the juice of one lemon or lime to prevent the carrots from oxidizing and turning dark.
Add chopped fresh coriander (about half a bunch from Woolies, stems and all)

In a small fry pan, add
3 tblsp vegetable oil
1 teaspn mustard seeds (I used black ones)
1 teaspn cumin seeds
a half tspn of ground tumeric

put a lid on the pan and heat on medium until the seeds just start to pop, like popcorn.
remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
stir in a tablespoon sugar, pour over vegetables and mix well. Allow to stand for at least a half hour before serving.

We ate a huge lunch, drank champagne and enjoyed each others company. It is so nice to have such lovely people in my life. Thanks ladies. Don't know what the next cooking adventure will be, but it should be fun.

Bouquets and kisses to Boab for being the best cooking partner ever. I bet the Ladies are jealous.