Audax Australia
This is the umbrella organisation running long distance cycling events in Australia Their website includes a calendar of events.

A place where cyclist can keep track of their mileage and any number of other statistics, as well as an attached forum.

A set of discussion forums covering almost every conceivable cycling related topic.

Cycling Adventurer
The Cycling Adventurer has tossed in the structured life of an urbanite to explore the world by bicycle. A well-written site detailing how he came to cycling, and what he learned along the way.

Crazy Guy on a Bike

Bicycle touring journals from all over the world, including a couple of my own.

Johns Cycles

This is my LBS on the Gold Coast. While they cater more to the racing market, their service, advice and workmanship is the best on the coast.

St Kilda Cycles

Importers of all manner of things hard to find in Australia, including the legendary Schmidt hub dynamo & E6 lights.


Wonderings and wanderings out and about in Portland, Oregon, US

The Journey
The journey begins in Perth, Western Australia.

Lance Notstrong
The "other" Lance!

Ms Mittens
The Wired Cat on-line

Iron Gambit

Aussie Writer and Cycletourist
A blog chronicling the writing and cycling of a seaside baby boomer.

Up in Alaska
Jill's subarctic journal about ice, bears and distant dreams of the midnight sun.

The Kin Chronicles
Taking mediocrity to a new level of ordinary.

Riding and running with a vengeance.

London Cycling Diary
Pedalling across the capital since August 2005.

CouchPilot-2-BikePilot (Zin's cycling blog)
Living an adventurous life with Type-2-Diabetes.

The adventures of Crazy Biker Chick
... Including cycling, adventuring, cooking, knitting and ranting.

Redneck Espanol
The two wheeled Spanish redneck.

Treadly and me
"Work is something I do between riding my bicycle".

Womanist philosophy and theology. Cycling, climbing, art, single-motherhood and fire-twirling.

Adrian Fitch's random rambling.
A bit about cycling, a bit about genealogy, a bit about radio but mostly a lot about nothing at all.

Geo's big adventure
The life and times of Geo.

It's about the bike
Musings on the cycling life.

Various cycling tidbits.

Industry Outsider
A blog about bikes and stuff.

Tweed Coast Treadly
An old man's bicycle riding diary.

A cyclist's life in Tenerife
(Canary Islands).

Bike to work to live to bike
It's never too late to get back on the bike

Stupid Hurts
Just the random scribblings of a guy with a bicycle

I'm not drunk enough for this
Really, I'm not.

What can I say? Just read it.

Mozam's cycling adventures
A random collection of the things I like to do most, and mostly that is to ride my bikes, bicycles that is... My musings from competitive riding, long distance endurance to puttering around the neighborhood..

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Flat tyre paranoia

It's the aspect of a run of flat tyres that nobody ever mentioned. For the record I've had 17 since easter, which is averaging close to one every week. If you take out the time I was in the UK (where I had one in a month), the average looks even worse. I've since upgraded to a Vittoria Randonneur tyre on the rear, and will probably get one for the front when the current tyre there wears out. The flats have stopped in the week since I made the change, so that shows a definite improvement. Of course, it doesn't stop me taking occasional glances down at the tyre just in case there's another one. I suspect that paranoia will last until I get a decent run without any flat tyres. Still, Vittoria were the same company who made the old GEAX tyres on the MTB, which once produced 15,773 flat-free kilometres in one run, so there's hope.

As for tomorrow, I'm headed for Spingbrook to do a long bushwalk. I expect I'll cover around 19km on foot after riding up the mountain, then ride home late in the day. The recent rain should have topped up the waterfalls, and with this being wildflower season, there should be plenty to see. One lingering concern is an ankle problem that I picked up earlier in the week. I don't feel it when on the bike, but on foot is another matter entirely. I do have the option of doing a shorter (5km) version of the walk, but it seems to have healed up pretty well. I think it's up to it, provided I'm careful on the creek crossings.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Special effects

Apparently the lunar eclipse is supposed to be at it's best at around 8.40pm this evening. Those who don't know what a lunar eclipse is can google it, but basically it's where the Earth blocks the sunlight from reaching the moon. Since it's fairly early, I'll hang around to watch it.

Of course, I've already had my fill of special effects this evening. I hung around a little later at work this evening, and rode home under one of the most colourful sunsets of the year. It was one of those partly cloudy evenings that can give rise to such conditions, when the sun perched just over the horizon reflects on such an angle that lights up the entire sky in pinks and oranges. Generally I don't bring my camera on my commute rides, because normally there's nothing to see. This is one occasion when I wish I'd made an exception.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I think this is called a rant

It's now time for a non-cycling post (yes, I do write those occasionally), there is something I'd like to get off my chest. Note to about 90% of the female population of the Gold Coast: If a single man says "hello" to you, it is not a request to sleep with you, it is simply polite conversation -- nothing more. The fact that some sleazy "businessman" with more money than brains conned you with a cheap pick-up line at some nightclub last weekend does not make you "special" or "entitled" in anyway. Get over it. If I was half as desperate to sleep with someone as some seem to think I am, I'd just go and pay a professional to do the deed.

Just for the record, yes, I am single, and probably staying that way as I decided to remove myself from "the market" around three years ago (there may be a 2004 post in this blog referring to it). In short, I did that because trying to find anyone worth meeting in this part of the world is like trying to the proverbial needle in the haystack. Some time ago, the Spanish Redneck referred to a story of a lot of 30-something men in Australia heading overseas to try to find someone, and leaving a supposed "man drought" here. I have to say that there's a fair chance I'll join them.

It seems to be attractive to the average female on the Gold Coast, you either need to be wealthy enough to buy and sell Rupert Murdoch with your small change, or be one of the so-called "bad boys" who divides their time between treating their girlfriend like dirt, sleeping with 6-10 other women on the side, getting drunk, hooning, brawling and making lewd public comments at high volume about a threesome with his girlfriend's sister/best friend. You think I'm joking? Prove me wrong! I see this every day.

Oh, let's not forget the exceptions, the ones who think that their sole purpose in life is to squirt out as many kids as possible into an already overpopulated world which can't cope with the number of inhabitants it already has. They're the ones who have realised that when it comes to actually taking responsibility for something, the "bad boy" doesn't cut it -- or at least some of them have realised this. Judging by the standard of parenting I see everyday, I'm sure there are many yet to see this particular bit of light, and those that have are still chasing James Packer.

So I guess the next question is why don't I just play the game, buy a stack of things I don't need/can't afford to impress someone, and start treating everyone I meet like dirt? The reason is because there are more important things in the world than simply getting my end wet as many times as possible. There are things like principles and integrity, honesty and so on. There is also the small matter of the fact that any woman with any intelligence at all would see through the whole act anyway.

Then there is the whole question of what exactly I'd be 'competing for' in the first place. It seems to me that most women in this part of the world are determined to be as much of a yobbo as the guy they're apparently attracted to (note the same drinking/hooning behaviour mentioned above). Either that, or they're so desperate to impress everyone they meet that they just fall into a pattern of saying what they think everyone wants to hear, and acting in whatever manner is "cool" at the time like some kind of robot. Of course, this sort of behaviour isn't specifically limited to women on the Gold Coast, but as I have no intention of getting into a homosexual relationship regardless, I tend not to pay attention to those things.

Some of you may interpret this to mean that I can't score, but I can. I can score anytime I like, because as I mentioned before, there are professionals who cater to that particular need. If I really thought meaningless sex was something to cherish, I'd simply go and see one of them and pay the fee. After all, there's no misinterpreting one's intentions in that situation, nobody to leave messages on my phone after the event, nobody hitting me up to buy them gifts every week, and they'd probably do a better job.

Consequently, I've effectively taken myself off the market, and decided to focus my energies on other aspects of life that are more likely to be rewarding. Sure it would be nice to meet someone compatible, someone who's reasonably intelligent, active, clean living, health conscious, independently minded, someone who can express an opinion without being pig-headed. I don't think I'm asking for anything I wouldn't be prepared contribute myself, but I'm not about to hold my breath or put my life on hold. I'm reminded of the story of the prince who asked a beautiful princess to marry him; she said no, and he lived happily ever after.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What could it Bee?

Can someone please tell me what it is I've done that has upset the insect community of Beechmont to the point where two bees would commit suicide for no purpose other than inflicting pain on me? Today I was stung by two bees, both of which flew into my helmet to get me in the side of the head. The first sting didn't really present a problem, but the second one managed to inflict some damage. It's still a little sore as I type this twelve hours later, and something I'll watch over the next couple of days. I've only been stung twice in my life previously.

Martin and I had decided on a ride to Binna Burra just for a nice, solid 100km. It was, too, with a maximum height of 780 metres at the summit. This is a fairly familiar ride to me, so I made a point of conserving energy a little early on for the final ascent of Mt Roberts. It was here that a frustrating week came out, where I decided to simply demolish the climb from start to finish. I suppose it's possible a few bees might have been hit by shrapnel, which could explain their aggression today.

One of the things that stood out on the primarily downhill ride home is the difficulty in getting the legs working again over the hills at Gilston. It's basically a psychological issue (because nobody should ever be exhausted after 100km for any reason), a situation where the mental approach softens on the long descent, thinking the job has been done. Gilston's quick hills tend to provide a wake up call. All in all, it was a rewarding ride, but I definitely need a few more kilometres next weekend.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Black Magic

That's an old shot of my black MTB. This shot is around three years old, Right now it's in a considerable state of disrepair, and could seriously do with some money spent on it. It could probably teach my primary bike a thing or two about robustness.

For those wondering about my lack of updates since Tuesday, it hasn't been a week in which I've ridden a lot of kilometres. A combination of three flat tyres (taking my 2007 total up to 23) and some brake problems have meant that my riding has been limited to commuting only -- apart from the abortive 15km or so on Thursday morning (aborted due to two flat tyres and not the weather for the record). Suffice to say that the old Black Magic has been pressed into emergency service a few times this week, in what passes for "bad weather" in these parts (see my previous post). Every time I've asked it to do the job, it has done so with no problems at all. I'll have to take the Black Magic out for a special outing at some point, as it's behaved so well. Better yet, I could just pull my finger out, spend the money and fix it up properly.

For those interested in the history, that was the bike that I used for a ride around Tasmania and a Victorian tour that included Wilson's Promontory and the Great Alpine Road. It was relegated in 2005 when I decided that a hybrid would be a more efficient touring machine. It was too, but it's always good to have a reliable, dependable deputy that gets the job done without fuss, regardless of the conditions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I still pwn

Another trophy on the mantlepiece. This is what happened here today. Yes, I rode in it, as I will do tomorrow if it persists -- and let's hope it does because we need the rain. It was actually strangely liberating, almost like a medieval joust -- me vs the wind. Best of all, there was finally some decent rain in it. Even the notorious Gold Coast hoons didn't fancy it.

I still pwn.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Yesterday afternoon and this morning provided the first rain this part of the world has seen in two months. Almost inevitably, it was accompanied by a stack of car crashes -- one actually happened in my street yesterday. It really puts the lack of skill of Queensland drivers into perspective. I spent 28 days in the UK, and I estimate it must have rained on at least 23 of them. Yet if drivers in that part of the world suffered a total loss of skill and composure everytime it rained in the same fashion as happens in Queensland, I shudder to think just what their road toll would be -- especially when you add in the higher traffic density in that part of the world.

In other news, apparently Kevin Rudd visiting a strip club using "taxpayer's money" is the worst scandal in the world. Meanwhile we're still supposed to be grateful for John Howard sending us into a bullshit war on the other side of the world that cost millions of dollars (not to mention thousands of lives). Perhaps, if the economy is as strong as we are led to believe, Mr Howard might care to expend a few dollars on buying a new sense of perspective for this country to replace the old one that has been completely f*cked up by the tabloid culture we have imported from America.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Is this what recovery is about?

I decided to go for a ride in Tallebudgera Valley with my friend Martin this morning. It should have been a gentle recovery ride, but it usually takes me as much as 45km to warm up the day after a long ride, and this is how it proved this morning. I felt like I was struggling a little against the south-westerly wind. On the other hand, it was nice to have some company on this endeavour. After cresting the climb on Ducats road approximately 45km in, I started to feel a little better.

Often motivation on rides like this can be difficult, as muscles are tired, and the ride itself doesn't offer the challenges or charms of the previous day. That said, Tallebudgera Valley is still pretty, and may be even more so soon if the rain currently falling outside actually turns into something significant. We had one interesting moment coming home when some kid on a mountain bike did everything he could to outpace us. He even succeeded for all of 100 metres, but was probably wise to turn off when he did. Even so, it probably made his day.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I decided that today was about time to put some mountains in my legs. I also needed a few kilometres, so there was really only one thing to do about it. I actually got away a little later than I'd hoped to, largely because I was actually feeling tired before the ride started. In retrospect, this may have been a blessing, because when I set off through the 20km of suburbia I now have to contend with when heading for Canungra, I simply focused on a consistent pedalling rhythm rather than setting off to make up the lost time.

The first 38km to Canungra was surprisingly quiet -- although this is the first time I can actually recall doing this ride on a Saturday. Perhaps there's a lesson there. I was disturbed only by a small patch of bushfire smoke in the Coomera River Valley, but it didn't stay with me for long and was thus easily dealt with. Leaving Canungra I noted again the dryness of the landscape right now, but also the fact that bushfires had literally burned right to the banks of Canungra Creek. This explains a lot.

The climb to Green Mountains/O'Reillys is basically a long gradual grind, with a couple of steep sections near the summit. The road itself is rare in Australia for the character is possesses, being built as a relief project in the 1930's and remaining largely untouched since. Higher up on some of the narrower sections, passing places similar to those seen on the single track roads in Scotland have been added. In Scotland most people are sufficiently courteous and intelligent to know how to use them, but my observations today indicate that few Australians can say that accurately.

The final stretch to O'Reillys passes through rainforest with some interesting tree varieties. In terms of temperature, this is almost always the coolest part of the entire area, being away from the coast and at around 900 metres above sea level. With the traffic still unusually quiet, the narrow roads didn't present any major problems, and it wasn't long before I'd climbed and descended this stretch, and faced the long, winding descent back to Canungra. Awaiting me there was the climb of the western approach of Beechmont, which was always going to present a far more difficult opponent.

On the way out of Canungra I noted that the "goat track" climb of Mt Tamborine has finally re-opened after almost 12 months. I just love the speed of council roadwork on the Gold Coast. I took the obligatory pre-climb muesli bar a little earlier for the Beechmont climb, just to give it time to settle. The climb itself never really settles, it's basically 5km at around 9%, and fairly consistent (although I did record 18% at one point). A short sharp 9% climb is easy, but this one is long enough to present a real problem if it's the second climb of the day. Fortunately, I was in a grinding mood today, which is really the only way to deal with these climbs. While I can't say it was easy, it never really caused me any major problems, and I made it up on to the Beechmont Plateau fairly comfortably in the end.

Beechmont was probably the closest thing I've seen to "green" since I returned to Australia. I'd also made much better time than I'd anticipated in getting here - given that I hadn't attacked any section of the ride. I negotiated the rolling hills and long descent from Lower Beechmont, and decided to return home the hilly way through Gilston. I was looking for 2,500 metres of climbing for the day, and with the road over Hinze Dam closed (it would have done it comfortably), I needed an alternative.

My legs now didn't have the spark of someone who's just started a ride, but again I focused on pedalling technique and getting the gear changes right. Again, nothing really caused me any problems, and I was able to negotiate it fairly easily. I was, however, horrified to return home and find that I'd only recorded 2,494 metres of climbing for the day. In truth I probably climbed more anyway -- any height gain under 5 metres is not counted in the "total climbing" measure of my altimeter. This is meaningless when dealing with mountains, but stretches of rolling hills can provide a discrepancy here. On the other hand, the measure does need to compensate somehow for changes in air pressure that might otherwise credit the total climbing measure incorrectly, so I'm not sure of the answer to this one.

Regardless of all this, it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride, with a total of 171km in the final analysis. What stands out about this ride is that my legs don't feel at all sore as I type this, in fact, I could probably go and do it all again tomorrow without too many problems. Perhaps I am actually getting fitter after all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Time to go to war on "voice recognition"

If anybody reading this feels the way I do, you will no doubt have one major pet peeve when dealing with seemingly any large company these days: calling them up and hearing a computer-generated voice on the other end saying "speak to select the option" or something of that nature. Apart from the fact that speaking to a machine makes us feel like idiots, as often as not the voice on the other end will then say "I didn't hear that, speak to select your option (again)". However, it was when contacting Telstra earlier to sort out yet another overbilling issue, that the simplicity of the solution dawned on me.

I made the call during my lunchbreak at work, simply because the billing enquiries line isn't open hours that are at all convenient. When the voice prompt came on, I simply said nothing. The voice prompted again, I said nothing again. After the third voice prompt, I was (wait for it) actually transferred to a real human being. No frustration, no looking (or sounding) like an idiot, and surprisingly, no problems. Then it dawned on me, if more people did this, those companies would end up transferring more callers to real people, which would either force them to implement another menu selection option, or simply refrain from sacking human beings to force their customers to talk to a computer. Either way, it would be the end of this rather annoying "technology".

Consequently, I propose a quiet revolution. The next time you call a company and get one of these stupid options, simply sit there in silence. Eventually you'll go through to customer service, at which point you can actually talk to a person and get some answers. It's not difficult, but if enough people do it, we might get somewhere.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


While the dirt roads I rode last weekend are losing traction in the big dry, it seems that after three years this little blog might be gaining some. I've now had to invites to write for other publications as a result of things people have read here, which is actually quite flattering -- even if I'm a little surprised to discover that people actually read the words I write here. It could be that I haven't written anything controversial for a while, or it might be the pictures from the new camera I bought in Glasgow. Having said all that, watch it all blow up in my face tomorrow.

Speaking of Glasgow, or at least Scotland, I've been busily uploading some pictures to my tour journal over the last couple of weeks, and have about 200 done (or roughly half of them). Perhaps it's time that I shared a few here. The first few are from Edinburgh, which is probably the most beautiful city I have ever visited. The entire city centre is world-heritage listed, as a result of the architecture and the history. I could have spent another week here just exploring.

Just about every town has a cathedral or ruin of some kind. This one in St Andrews near the ancient burial ground is a typical example.

The sunshine in the previous shot was an aberration -- it rained virtually everyday for the first two weeks, this scene is perhaps, more typical of the conditions.

Like any tour, it didn't take me long to find the hills, the Grampian mountains have a remote, rugged beauty all of their own. While the landscape may appear barren, just look at the colours.

The changeable weather in the north can create vistas of it's own. The sudden downpour that swept through the town of Lairg when I was there left me with a very special "two-for-one" deal.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Eden's Garden

One of the things about going away on a bike tour that isn't often mentioned is the "new" feeling that all of the usual rides have when you return. Today I threw in the old Bilambil ciruit ride, with a detour along Garden of Eden road. I waited until the afternoon in the hope that the bushfire smoke would clear, and copped 29 degrees C. If we actually got a winter here while I was away, it's long gone now. I passed through Bilambil and rode through the rainforest of Urliup as a way of getting an early taste of the dirt. I had been forewarned that the dirt roads here are extremely dusty and a little slippery as a result, and was reminded of the fact by a long skid by the causeway.

The descent into the Tweed Valley at the southern end served to remind me of just how dry things are at the moment. Never before have I seen sugar cane looking like this.

Fortunately I was able to leave it behind with the long climb of Tomewin. I went for the methodical, cold, calculated approach to this climb, and it seemed effective. I seemed to crest the summit and turn onto Garden of Eden road in no time. This is essentially a pointless "out and back" detour, but it's very pretty, with rainforest and sweeping views.

After this I returned to the main road, turning onto Glengarrie road at the Border Gate for the main attraction. This is a tough stretch of riding, with rocky dirt roads and steep gradients. It's not just a matter of having the power to climb over the terrain, it also requires the timing to use the bursts at the right time. Today it was a little more treacherous than usual, thanks to some road 'improvements' from the council. I have a bad feeling the rich boys want to move up here, and accordingly the council are right in their pocket.

The final descent into Bilambil was also a little tricky, with the loose dust and stones on the road. There are also two short sharp climbs to wake the legs up, and one particularly nasty hairpin/intersection at the bottom of a steep section. A lower section of Glengarrie road has now been sealed, which is disappointing, but hardly surprising in view of my comment about the rich boys above. Either way, it was negotiated without any problems, and I was left with a final 30km of suburbia to negotiate and reflect on what had been yet another memorable ride.

I had been slightly concerned that I'd cop more bushfire smoke on the final ride up the coastal strip, but a sea-breeze solved that problem for me. The bushfires are threatening to play havoc with next weekend's plans as well - I may end up jumping on a train to the Sunshine coast to try to get away, but I'll decide on that later. I also had a thought about whether it's worth trying to get away on the Gold Coast show long weekend. If it doesn't rain between now and then, I don't think I'll bother.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A passion for defiance

By now anyone who reads this blog is well aware that I have returned from a wet tour of Scotland to a Queensland that is drier than ever before. To say that we need a flood would be understating the situation by several orders of magnitude. The water restrictions are so harsh that virtually any outdoor water use is banned. I'm picking and choosing my rides on the basis of "where the bushfires aren't" -- and had to cancel a ride early this morning because of one. This will probably mean more rides on the NSW side where there seems to be a slightly smaller number of brainless f*ckwits with nothing better to do than light fires.

It would therefore seem like a bad time to plant a passionfruit vine and actually expect to get anything from it, but this requires some awareness of some other factors. First of all, I've had some success in cultivating this particular fruit before. Secondly, I have a means of dealing with the water restrictions, and no, it doesn't involve shelling out $1,000 for a water tank (not that I'd have anything to fill it with anyway). I was using recycled shower water for watering even before the drought began, so those won't offer a problem.

However, the thing that most fills me with optimism comes from a quick 50km ride I took late this afternoon to Austinville in the hinterland. While many of the surrounding areas are barren and tinderbox dry, and this is exacerbated by property owners in the area trying to remove anything that might feed a bushfire. One can almost liken this to the Russians of the 1940's burning all their stored grain to stop the Nazi invasion (albeit on a different scale), these people will really miss the shade when the summer heat kicks in. Yet despite all this, there are small patches of rainforest that survive, totally defying the conditions, and thriving regardless. If they can defy the drought, so can I, and so can my passionfruit.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Le tour

This may come as a surprise to some, but while touring Scotland last month, I received an e-mail inviting me to write for a general sport website about the Tour de France. Apparently someone out there likes my style of writing and thought I might be able to contribute something. I might have done so had I actually seen any of it. Apart from the fact that I was a little occupied with seeing a beautiful part of the world that I had never previously visited, I am somewhat disillusioned with the administration of that sport, as both of my regular readers on this page would be aware.

It's a well-known fact that every sport in the world has it's doping problems, but for some reason professional cycling seems to have this policy of trying to air it's dirty laundry as much as possible. The whole business of suspending riders on 'suspicion' doesn't help much either, then we have people like David Millar who were happy to use 'the juice' in the past now coming out and whining about people who did exactly what they do. One gets the impression that pro-cycling would be better to just learn to sweep it under the carpet the way other sports have. It seems the typical TdF follows the pattern of the 'update' from Julie B that appeared in the guestbook of my own journal:

News from the Tour de France that must be passed on. A skinny guy on a fast bike was found to have elevated testosterone. He AND HIS WHOLE TEAM are out of the Tour.

The skinny guy on a light bike WHO'S BEEN WEARING THE YELLOW JERSEY FOR DAYS missed some pre race doping controls. He told his team he was off with his wife in Mexico. They just found out he was actually in Italy at the time. His team kicked him off and pulled him out of the race. At least he has a bunch of yellow jerseys as souvenirs of his visit to France!

The skinny guy on a fast, light bike who was favored to win, and who put in stupendous stages in the last few days, was found to have a healthy dose of someone else's blood in his veins. HIS WHOLE TEAM has left the race.

The upshot? The guy who'll wear the yellow jersey tomorrow (a skinny fellow, with a light bike) will have to leave the white jersey behind. Or else wear two jerseys at once. Which would be decidedly unpleasant in France in July. And probably less aerodynamic, too.

Evans from Australia is now in second, and Levi Leipheimer from the USA is in third. (Rumor has it that both gentlemen are adipose challenged, and both ride bikes made of unobtanium (a composite of fishes breath, smoke from a beeswax candle, and the sound of a cat's foot steps, bonded with an extract of shadows cast on a cloudy day.)) Both have reasonable chances of standing on the central podium in Paris. Both have ridden relatively boring, safe races thus far. No superhuman efforts have been noted. So ... the gut feeling among many is that they MIGHT be clean.

Sums it all up perfectly.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Welcome home

Having tried various ways of dealing with the condition known as Post Tour Depression in the past, I have concluded that the only thing a person can do about it is to simply get straight on their bike when returning home and just ride a lot of kilometres. With that in mind, the organised 200km ride through the Tweed Valley with Audax was just what I needed. The drama started before the ride did, however. Running late meant that I had to ride the 12km to the Currumbin start like a time trial rather than the relaxed warm-up I was hoping for.

The practical upshot of this meant that I was already struggling just 20km into the ride. At least the surroundings through the John Hogan rainforest were pleasant. They did not, however, provide an indication of what was to come. I have been living on the Gold Coast since 1995, and regularly riding through the Tweed Valley since 1997, and one of the constant descriptions that applies to that part of the world is "green". Evidently that is no longer the case. While the rolling hills are still pleasant, the green has been replaced by yellow in many places. One hopes that some rain will arrive in the near future to rectify this, but for now it's just the way it is.

While there was a sense of tiredness about my own ride for virtually the entire duration, the Tweed Valley is an area with which I am familiar, and my experience in these situations gave me an advantage. I maintained a consistent rhythm across the hills to Tyalgum, back to Uki and across to Stokers Siding. At this point the enjoyment returned, and I really felt good crossing the Burringbar Range to the second checkpoint at Mooball. I knew then it was just a matter of finishing off what could still be a reasonable time for a 200k.

It was at the southern end of the Tweed Coast, after negotiating the first magpie of the season, that the first problem started. A slow-leaking flat tyre, and a pump that wasn't effective. Fortunately I tested the pump before deflating the tyre, and knowing it wasn't going to work gave me the opportunity to limp to a service station and change the tyre there. That cost me time, but didn't hinder me in any other way. I rode north from Pottsville to Cabarita, turning inland and taking a slightly more complex route back to Murwillumbah for the final climb of Tomewin.

The southern climb of Tomewin is always a challenge, today it was done at the end of 200km and my legs were less than enthusiastic about it. The great thing about riding the extended tour of Scotland was developing the ability to maintain a constant (if not necessarily fast) rhythm. I just sat and grounded out the climb, occasionally checking the altimeter to guage how much longer I would need to sustain it. Looking back it doesn't really feel like it took all that long, and I was soon over the other side, preparing for the final descent back to Currumbin.

The reminder of the event itself was relatively uneventful. I finished with an elapsed time of around 10 hours, which is basically what I was aiming for. Take away the flat tyre and I can be more than satisfied with it. The ride home from the event gave me the opportunity to get hit by a car (as discussed in a previous post) and late on I picked up another flat tyre. I just let the air leak out as I pedalled the last two kilometres or so. I could fix it later. A long ride with two flat tyres, a magpie attack and getting hit by a car. Welcome home.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

That's seven

As of yesterday I have now been hit by cars on seven occasions. Some idiot in Palm Beach passed too close and clipped my handlebars while I was riding home from a 200k Randonee earlier. I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not, and I'm not particularly concerned as the police wouldn't do anything about it either way. Myself and my bike were totally unharmed in the exchange, in fact I didn't even stop pedalling. The car may have been scratched, but I don't care enough about that to pay much attention to it.

Just over a week ago I said that riding in central London was a danger because it might erode my cynicism and leave me vulnerable to the idiots when I returned to the Gold Coast, and so it proved. Just in case anyone wonders whether seven is a lucky number, I also got two more (unrelated) flat tyres yesterday -- taking my 2007 tally to 20.