Saturday, December 31, 2011

happy new year!

Well here I sit, wine in hand, and another year has gone. I am fairly hurtling towards old age, but at least I am doing it with good health and lots of fun. I had a 'poor year' from a kilometre accumulation point of view, but I did some gym and added some running and I am happy. I also raced a bit, and had some challenging experiences. I am most proud of my hilly, hard and didn't come last Charters Towers race. It wasn't much, but it made me pleased that I have a go and do my best.

So Happy 2012 everyone. There are fireworks exploding out of sight beyond Castle Hill right now, so it seems a good time to wish you all continued good health, much happiness, safe riding and respect on the roads.

Ride and have fun. Everything else will take care of itself pretty much.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

solstice Christmas ride

I didn't realise til today that the reason is got dark so late last night (like, after 7!) Is because the summer solstice was upon us! That means it was time for the annual Christmas bike ride and hot pot extravaganza!
A six o'clock start seemed like a good idea, but it was still very light and a bit too hot.
Champagne was required to keep the troops from over heating
I had cooked for a couple of days, so my favorite finger foods were all in evidence. Sadly my falafal were not up to scratch, but the pita bread, Nigella's delicious meat balls, my always excellent hummus and garlicy mint yogurt were excellent. There were also my special Indian"bits and bites", veggies, dip, cheese... as kids arrived chips appeared in bowls... party season food.
Mr and Mrs Clause were resplendent in Christmassy cycling kit. I was a bit aghast when Scott got me a fully red Nalini kit a few years back, but at Christmas I wear it with delight. The rest of the year it gets mixed up with other things. I retaliated with the elf jersey! Hopefully this won't make an appearance outside of Christmas, although the tactical advantage of showing up at a race in that jersey may be considerable.
Darkness finally fell and it was time to roll.
There were about 20 of us, a bit more with all the kids. We have to invite some young people and contemporaries with grandkids every year, since it seems that since this ride started all our own kids have grown up and moved on! As soon as they turn teen they are pretty much over riding with the folks, so we will have to cast further afield to get little ones soon.
We stopped to admire the displays along the way, making sure we were regrouped. There are not as many lights as years gone by, so it can be a bit of a noodle between stops.
There were people in cars doing the same thing, cruising to look at lights, and we kept meeting up, but everyone was really good about giving us room and not being in a hurry. The people who had light displays mostly came out to enjoy our appreciation of their work. We did a pretty good ride of almost 8kms around local streets
Then back home for a hot meal. Scott's justifiably famous red beans and rice, as well as other contributions of slow cooker butter chicken and a beef stew. Rum balls and rich cookies, then it was over for another year as people tricked out the door. A very nice Christmas tradition, and one which we will continue as long as we can. Merry tropical Christmas!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

in the mood

Even after all these years in the tropics, I suffer a certain disconnection with Christmas. But then, if you are lucky, it rains, and the weather cools, and you have some energy again. Add a finish to the working year on the 16th of December, some fabulous light displays around the neighbourhood, and you start to get in the mood. Then a huge box of cookies arrives from my best ever German Cartography trainee (1999! Matthais we are getting old!) and I am excited about Christmas at last!!

Today we rode (der) and had breakfast with dear friends who are off to the wilds of Medicine Hat, Alberta for Christmas with their Daughter. We are always excited when Aussie friends are off to discover Canada, even if it is a bit of Canada we haven't been to ourselves. Should be very exotic for a couple of Queenslanders. My advice: wear mittens, not gloves, go to Tim Horton's donuts as often as you can stomach, eat just one serve of poutine, and have fun. Oh, and snowboarding is for young people, skiing is hard enough for somebody over 50 who has never seen snow.

So now that I am feeling Christmassy, I have tidied, and decorated, and baked, made the first batch of rum balls (with raisins marinated a full week in rum!), organised the Christmas lights bike ride extravaganza for Wednesday, made shopping lists... I am ready, bring on the party and lets enjoy the holidays!

Here is how it is done in the old country, I don't expect to find anything quite so full on as we cycle the neighbourhood on Wednesday:

I am sorry you have to cut nd paste the link yourself, but "blogger says no" and there is no way to add a link this evening, *sigh*

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A walk around the garden

It is now summer, and so hot... I feel like a wrung out wet rag on my rides, so I just spin along and don't push it. I'm not going anywhere really. But the garden is loving the heat. Enjoy the pictures.

Hopefully the rain will come back and moderate the heat. But then again, it is the languid season, and I like that at Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

going deep

I was cruising through life as a rather careless and disengaged BUG President when I got an insistent invite to a cycling safety workshop in Brisbane. I like Brisbane alright, but not twice in two weeks, so I did the 'long day from hell' and flew out at 6am to return at 7:30 pm.

I guess I have to be a bit diplomatic here, because this is "a public forum" in that it is available to anyone who stumbles upon it, and part of the public record, but oh my, there are some interesting characters in cycling advocacy. I am really tired, but here is a bit of an impression of the day:
  • Australians are not Danes and no amount of wishing is going to transform our society so lets stop going there
  • Two Aussies walking will turn into a race. Two Aussies drinking will turn into a competition. Can we please just accept that sports cycling is the 'norm' here for most Aussies who get on a bike, even if it takes them a bit of time to find the inner mongrel. It is in there.
  • Transport and Main Roads get cycling, now be vigilant to make sure that your local council doesn't stuff up their good policy with silly local notions (I am on it)
  • Bicycle Queensland has no idea, at all, really
  • Townsville doesn't actually exist, nor does Toowoomba. apparently.
  • If you live in Queensland read this draft cycling strategy, and enjoy the bits that infer that certain things are all done, even though you probably haven't seen any evidence of it where you live, unless you live in Brisbane.
If I can get on a plane and have a look around and talk to people, why can't they? It is looking like a long year ahead. And I may have told some people to 'grow up' or even 'get fu**ed' I don't know, it was a hard day of not seeing eye to eye. I am filled with hope though, because for the most part, the important people get it, and the rest are background noise anyway.

Monday, December 5, 2011

work and all that...

Having a blog sometimes makes you realise how very dull and ordinary life is. Ah well, here is an update of nothing much happening (which is a good thing, really).

Last week I attended a spatial data seminar which was really interesting and all that, but the venue gave me a dose of food poisoning. Now I'm not one to do things on the epic scale of Jill Homer - but I felt bad enough and it hurt my mileage. By mid-week I was sick enough to need a day off work but I had to fly to Brisbane for some meetings and another seminar, so I went and just got on with it.

The big noisy smoke. I thought it would be nice to be close to the train station. Trains are very noisy and keep you from sleeping, especially when you are getting up every few hours for other reasons.
The next day I had a couple of hours in the morning to do my thing, so I hired a city bike (I brought my own helmet) and had a fun noodle along the river. The bike was a roadies nightmare. It weighed about as much as I do, and had lots of clappy, slappy noises. However, it let my legs go round and filled my lungs with fresh air, and I felt better.
Big city coffee - OMG I wish I could get coffee this good in my little regional city. The bowl was a bit weird though.
And so to work. There are few photo ops like a 3D spatial seminar. We are deep geeks and we are proud of it. There were a number of really good presentations, but the last one of the day so dazzled me that I can hardly remember the rest. We are watching a real time exploration of raw Lidar data. Ant, you are the only one who has any idea what I am on about, hope you drop by.

The technology is developed by these guys:

Ever wondered what it was like to attend a seminar where Bill Gates announced that he had an idea for an operating system? Or Mercator released a mathematical concept for plotting straight lines to navigate to a point? Well, I figure this was as big a game changer. Hold on all you mappers, we are in for some game changing turbulence!! Gawd I love my work.

I got home and collapsed and slept for about 14 hours, and now I am all better and I had a fantastic ride today. The rain has come, but it is following a night pattern so far, allowing a good effort in the morning, a scalding run home ahead of the storms at the end of the day, and a blissful cool evening with the sound of the rain and the frogs to keep you company. Life is sweet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

cat. six racer

I lost a category six race today. That is a race that eventuates while you are commuting, oblivious to the intentions of your foe. I was limping home from one of those days at work that combine ill health with high workload, and I was just wanting to get there. I passed a kid on a BMX who was doing the usual cool three strokes and glide combo, and I guess it was all too much for him as a minute or so later he was passing me, with the biggest cheeky grin you ever saw.

I congratulated him heartily on his triumph of youth and fitness over age and expenditure. We both had a good laugh. I really must get some cards made up to hand out to the rare keener who takes me on, inviting them to a free round at the velodrome. This kid could be a contender!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

camping weekend

Well there is a life beyond cycling, and we camped this weekend with no bikes. we just didn't know if there was cycling in the park area and decided to hike instead.

We also didn't know if it was viable to try and sleep in the camper, since the sites were 'walk in' so we took the tent. We could have gotten the van close enough, but this was very nice. Our first use of the new tarp technology, photo taken between rain showers.
It rained hard in the night but we stayed totally dry, and as a bonus the tent stayed cool all day in the shade. We ate too much, hiked to some lovely spots...
We were not able to do the big hike of the weekend, down to the base of the falls and back, because it is still cyclone damaged and closed. I want to go back and do it when it reopens (assuming that it can be repaired). The cyclone damage was pretty epic in places.
So we hiked where the trails were open, and had a lot of fun and relaxation. My friend Leone was unable to resist a rainforest pool.
Nothing like the sound of running water, and knowing that surely there are no crocs up here, surely...
The eucalyptus were shedding their bark

and we came home to find that it seemed to be 'bark shedding weekend' everywhere
For those lucky enough to be occasional visitors to the Casa Edwards, look what has replaced the old box airconditioner in the guest room! An actual window that lets the breeze in! Looks great on the inside too.

We had a nice time, and of course saw lots of opportunities to ride the mountain bikes if only we had taken them and some better maps were available. Well I can get the maps sorted, and we are all keen to get back and ride a section of the 'Wet Tropics Great Walk' which is actually looking like being mostly old logging roads in very good nick and totally free of motorised traffic. Heaven!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

past and present

As I was cycling this morning there was a stretch of road where tiny styrofoam beads had escaped from a load (or a stuffed toy I suppose). They blew up into my face and swirled and eddied around my wheels. It looked just like the sort of snow you get when it is real cold and dry, the land so frozen that snow can't stick so is free to drift and travel. How odd to have the memory of cold while the heat rises from the bitumen, the sun scalds my legs. I felt caught in a moment where the past and present met, a wrinkle in time.

30 years ago today was a frozen day, with blowing dry snow. It was a happy day, my wedding day. Today is my 30th wedding anniversary. Such a big number in such a short time!
We have been lucky, and the passage of time hasn't treated us too badly, although I never figured Scott would overtake me in the silver stakes. I knew he wouldn't lose his hair though!

So I am probably as fit as I was then, maybe fitter, which is kind of odd. Wish we'd ridden bikes back then, but our world was different and we did other things. We hiked and camped and looked at birds. We will do some of that this weekend, because not much has changed really, except we will take the mountain bikes, because you have to ride.

Happy Anniversary Scott!! 30 more years, easy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday music

Lots of bloggers put up music on Friday. I guess we are all kicking back and having a wine and planning the weekends rides. Dangerous, because you plan big things after a glass or two of red. Anyway, a favorite blogger put up a song, and it was so lovely I was moved to wonder what my favorite song was, what I would share as something very special.

It is a bit daunting to open up a window to your soul, as music appreciation will do. This is from a movie. I am not a movie buff, but I adored this one and have seen in maybe 4 times since 1982.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

thanks for the flowers

Last evening we were out misbehaving at a pirate themed birthday party. Who knew we would get to a point in life where dear friends were turning 65 (!), we were still dressing up as pirates and still drinking too much champagne. I am not turfing my pirate hats any time soon. Indeed, I may have a crafty afternoon where I help all my friends make one too, as it isn't hard and you need one more often than you would think.

When the taxi brought us home (we are sensible grown ups, after all) we went to unlock the gate and found a bunch of cellophane wrapped fresh flowers wedged in the gate.

Dear GOD! I think to myself, did I double book? Invite someone over and totally forget? This is sadly not impossible, but I swear I have no recollection of any promised meals to students (a great weakness of mine).

I have checked my phone, facebook, email accounts... nothing, no messages or accusations. I guess I have a secret admirer. Well, thanks for the flowers, they are lovely and I am very grateful!

Cycling... I am finished with gym and ramping the kms up to normal. 221.97 kms this week, early meetings kept me in check. I am feeling strong, and finding that magic place where suffering is a pleasure. I lost 4cms off my waist, gained a kilo (lets hope that was muscle) and learned a lot about my body and how to push it.

Now I am ready, and I'm going to ride.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

spring things

Well there has been very little cycling in paradise, and that is a shame. I am officially finished my 20 hours of gym training, and while I am trim and strong, I have lost a ton of endurance. There is no substitute for time on the bike. I will start to ease in some longer rides this week, with the hope of building up to my former norm of 250kms a week by mid November.

I volunteer most years to be a client to a Sport and Exercise Science 3rd year student, and I take the task very seriously. That is why I had to step off the bike. I couldn't give up the gym because the student can't get a good result without me. Anyway, I really enjoy it, and this was the best student ever. He caused me pain, and nurtured my inner mongrel, and made me stronger.

I haven't a clue how long it takes to recover from over training, but I am sufficiently bored and frustrated to be over it. If I need a nap, I'll take a nap. Training is normal for me and I need to train. I want my life back, even if I end up sleeping through a fair bit of it.

The weather has been hot, then cool, dry and then unexpectedly wet. Spring is heading into summer on a twisty path. Summer is coming though, and the first taste of summer, local mango, is just around the corner. A few years ago we cut down the big mango in our yard because it took up a ton of space, produced very little fruit, and we had this in the parkland at the end of our street:

Mango is a common shade tree around the city, and I hope they are always there because they form an important part of "the commons". The fruit is there for the taking.
Just starting to blush, but green and hard so it isn't too damaged by the fall to the ground. Actually, Scott is such a good picker that he caught all but one as it fell.
We are not greedy, six is a good feed, and they will all be ready at once. Can't wait to make a mango salad, and just enjoy the ripe fruit as a decadent nosh eaten over the sink, juice dripping everywhere.
The financial world is going to hell in a handbasket they tell us, but at least I have food from my yard and my parks. All this for free. Makes me feel a bit safer.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ride to Work Day fame

Here is a better link to the news item with me rabbiting on about Ride to Work day again this year... it is on my own BUG site now

Sunday, October 9, 2011

paying the price

I have been very neglectful of the blog, sorry! I guess I should start with old news. The Corporate Tri was great fun and I achieved my goal of a sub 30 minute 16kms, so I am very happy!!!
Feeling chuffed, and thanks to my awesome team members. We totally rock!
I have been training with a student at JCU and I totally credit him with getting me up to strength after the trip overseas. Thanks very much Jason! After the tri we continued to train, and I continued to ride, and then I just crashed and burned. I often have a physical fall after a big deadline, but this was a hard fall indeed. I got on my bike to go to work, got about a km and realised that I was very ill indeed, so I turned back, wobbled home and slept til noon. I was planning a trip to Cairns to catch up with family, and figured we may as well go, since Scott drives and I sleep anyway.

Cyclone Yasi seems a long time ago, so in my fragile state it came as a bit of a shock to encounter the raw damage to the north of us. My yard is fine now, but not everyone is as lucky.

Road works in Cardwell, and the shock of seeing the sea where once there was a thick buffer of rainforest/beach vegetation.
OMG no wonder the Wompoo pigeon is still hanging around our yard. Rainforest isn't supposed to look like this. It should be a carpet of green, no trunks visible at all. I was gutted by the extent of the destruction.

We got to Cairns eventually (I hate driving) and I had a long weekend of recovery, lying around, cuddling small dogs and eating very well. I got a couple of rides in
To my families amusement I am happy to go nowhere for some time.
The orchids were blooming, the country was dry, and spring had sprung.
What a lovely break. Then it was back home, back on the bike and into the gym. I was trying hard to go softly, but a Doctors appointment confirmed all our suspicions, I am suffering from over-training, and I need to back off and recover. Everybody should be so lucky, to be sick from burning ambition. I have another training week, which I can't give up because my student trainer needs the hours for his assessment. I'll have to give up some long rides, which will wound my soul but help my body. I finally read Friel's "Cycling Past 50" this weekend, and every thing he warns against, I have done. All that should be avoided, I have embraced. Doh.

I feel like I am denied the chance to make hay while the sun shines, but I have to be good. At least summer bit today, and it is suddenly hot. I hope the languid season will slow me down a bit, but not too much!!

Other than the over training thing I am in very good nick. Cholesterol is fantastic, blood pressure good, various other health indicators top drawer. I have never had an imperative to be lazy before, wonder if I can pull it off?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

keeping busy

If your heart is aching you must not mope around the house, you must get amongst it and celebrate life. Luckily this was scheduled to be a big weekend. I wasn't supposed to race the Crit on Saturday, but there was a novice class I could jump on to in order to practice the hot dog course on the strand, so I gave it a go. I let all the keeners who were actually racing take off, and the I did my own thing as a training run. Good fun, but badly done. I have a hard time eating when I am grieving, so I did this 11:30 ish race after a roll out at 7 am on a 500 ml bidon of endura and a 300 ml box of up and go. OK, I am an idiot, and my body suffered.
Good race, badly photographed. If there is one thing you can note about life in the tropics, it is that the sun is very harsh and the shadows are very dark. If you are cowering in the shadows, you cannot photograph the sun. Lesson learned.

Go BoaB in the tribal Nova Scotian kit. Makes you want to strangle a cod and swill some rum.
That was Saturday, and I was saving myself for Sunday, the corporate triathlon where I was the cyclist on a keen women's corporate team. High expectations!!
I am grateful for the running I have been doing, the transition was better than last year. Scott clocked me at 28 minutes cycling. I am desperate for a sub 30 time, was the run fast enough? I have to wait and see the final results. So at the end it was all good with a coffee enjoyed with my boys. Sorry Patrick, you are outed. I love that he takes it for granted that we cycled home after, and that he can walk everywhere in the city he wants to go.
This Blog is about cycling, and I have embraced the challenge of sports cycling, but really, I am keen on bikes, and everybody cycling all the time. Go ride.

Friday, September 16, 2011

my heart aches

Vale my Rusty. He was always the good dog, so he didn't get as much attention as Stanley, the bad dog. I am glad he lasted more than two years after Stanley died, because he got a chance to be top dog and sleep wherever he wanted, including right up close to me. He died well. Wednesday evening he was full of beans and playing ball, then he sickened in the night and the best Vet in the world visited the next day and it was done. 16 years old, riddled with cancer, he found joy in living til the last. I am so sad, I have not been without a dog for a very long time. The house and garden are so empty. We mourn his passing. He was 16.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

happenings round here

We have been pretty busy. Last Tuesday was Super Tuesday, an annual bike count in Australia, and Townsville was included for the first time. We were in! Scott registered after me but got his shirt in time for the day, and I didn't. Doh. It was waiting when I got home from work. So we stood on a corner from 7am til 9am and counted bikes, and were gratified to count quite a few. Hope I can get the data for a student project, it could be interesting. Hopefully we will have more volunteers next year and cover more territory, but really, we did well this year with 25 of 44 locations covered, and me away til mid August and unable to promote the event til I got back.
Then it was a busy week at work and another 4 gym sessions on top of riding. I have had to cut the kms way back because riding 35 kms before work, going to the gym for an hour and then eating lunch and staying awake all day is really hard. So Saturday I took a full rest day and slept in with Rusty. It was so windy before daybreak that there was no way I was riding. I need to weigh more to keep my bike from skidding around in high winds. Not group ride friendly!

In the afternoon I did ride over to a friends to get some bananas (that rich mans treat) and admire the orchids. These are all local natives:

Here is Bob sharing the (literal!) wealth and cutting me some bananas. I also got enough chopped banana for a batch of muffins to enjoy while these ripen.So Sunday I was raring to go for a ride, but it was one of those days. We got to the top of Hervey's Range and it was 5 degrees.
At least the bushfires hadn't reached the race venue.
I was driving support, and the race was delayed for more than an hour due to an "administrative oversight" (we all screw up sometimes). I thought I would fill the time with a roll, but the wind chill was about zero so I played the tropical flower card and didn't ride my favorite rolling road. *sigh* You always regret not riding.
My bike suffered the indignity of being a sign holder!
Permit fetched and ready to go.
After the race we had to hurry home because we were in cooking mode and it would take all day to get ready for a dinner party. Here is my friend Kiran admiring a rare feast of fish cakes, baked beans and both blueberry and apple pie!! Honestly, we were on the hop from 11 am to get this all cooked for a 7 pm dinner party.

I was delighted that my Aussie mates loved the food. Kiran doesn't count because she is a Bluenoser, so it was a given she would love it!
And so it goes and another busy week ahead, but there is always a glass of red and a beautiful sunset at the end of every day, and life is pretty sweet.