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.