At least I think these photos were taken in or around May, didn’t really get up to too much over the past month other than a bit of a self-harm, and watching a lot of movies. The picture of my hand showing the stab wound caused by my own clumsiness, I was wiping down the bench top, and stupidly left one of the magimix blades in the drying rack (hanging over the edge of course), and pushed my hand right into it with quite a bit of force it seems. Anyway, I got three stitches which will hopefully come out this Sunday after two weeks, and I can resume normal activities.
The caterpillar photo was a stroke of luck as it must have fallen out of a tree and landed on our gate where it was easy pickings for me (first), then I’m sure for some bird afterwards. After that are a couple pictures of some pizzas I made, the bacon and egg one really came out funny, perfect for Valentine’s Day, the Salami one tasted better. I did learn that with our oven it is better to cook for a bit longer, and also to fry the bacon a bit before putting it in the oven, probably the egg too. The last two shots were taken up at Lake Eildon National Park where we did a nice three hour hike (could’ve been faster but you know me :D), that’s it for now, I just got back from Hobart, so will be posting some pictures from that trip soon too.
So I got back on Monday after a flight delay that left us in Hong Kong and Shanghai for a forgettable day. Apparently Iceland received record snowfalls this Winter, so we didn’t get to see the best of an Icelandic Winter, oh well I was expecting snow any way, and we did get a couple of clear days to see around Reykjavik at least. I wouldn’t exactly call Reykjavik a city, it’s more like a town considering that you can walk from the suburbs to downtown in 25 minutes, but it has all the amenities, didn’t see the night life at all, but that’s not a big deal considering I’m currently sober :D. What I found a little amazing was that even in Patreksfjordur, population about 1000, they have proper 3g coverage and broadband internet, it’s about as remote as you can get in Europe I would think, and yet they pretty much have all the amenities. I did have a pretty scary ferry ride from the Westfjords to Snaefell before driving along some dark and dusty roads back to Reykjavik. I am thinking that I’ll go back in the future, probably in late Spring/early Summer time, although I would like to go again perhaps in the late Autumn/early Winter to give myself another chance to see the northern lights, in a better location with a clearer sky, that would still be ideal.
As for Paris, in the little time I spent there and without actually getting around the downtown area too much and especially not seeing the night life, I could tell that it was a place that I would definitely really like. It’s such a busy place and the people (especially the girls) are very good looking :D, they must be so vain, or just really lucky. There’s no shortage of anything it seems, although the Vietnamese food is certainly not as good as Melbourne from what I tried. The metro system is great, just like the one in Mexico City, and they have use-once tickets as well as the re-usable card, they know what they’re doing. Winter there was not as cold as I expected, there were a couple of cold days right around 1-2 degrees, but then the two days before we left were about 10 degrees and positively balmy! Any way, I bet it’s an especially magnificent city in the warmer weather.
And now the rant, bloody Air France, and bloody QANTAS, I can tell you, I will not be flying Air France again if I can help it, and I won’t be flying QANTAS unless they have super special deals that are so cheap as to be insane not to buy, also I have frequent flyer points that I will need to use rather than waste. Air France got all the passengers on to the plane on time, and then sat there waiting (for half an hour with no information), then drove out to the runway and waited again for half an hour before finally notifying passengers of a maintenance check that needed to be done, then finally after two hours we finally took off. Initially they were telling us on the plane that we would arrive only thirty minutes later than the initial arrival time, so passengers with connecting flights need not worry. After a bit of sleep, and checking the flight route and destination details, it became apparent that we were not going to arrive in time for our flight, and in fact we were arrived exactly two hours late, ten minutes after our particular connecting flight was due to leave, so they made up no time at all. On the plane, the cabin crew told us to go talk to the ground staff for further information, so a bunch of Aussies with connecting flights to Melbourne and Sydney were possibly expecting that we’d walk through and be lead to our boarding gates by someone only to find that our QANTAS flights had already left. So Air France, who were operating a flight for QANTAS from Paris to Hong Kong did not do anything to help those passengers that had connecting flights with QANTAS to get on their flights on time. Instead they provided us with $90HKD worth of food vouchers for the airport and half a night’s stay in the airport hotel. Air France obviously working with their partner airlines only, provided us with airfares to get back to Melbourne, but not until over 24 hours after we were meant to.
So we were stuck boarding a second rate plane with China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai bright and early in the morning and spending the whole day there until a flight in the evening back to Melbourne. OK, China Eastern Airlines didn’t actually seem so bad up until then, apart from the service being a little abrupt. They were running on time and everything, and with a whole day in town we decided to head out to see what Shanghai was about, I didn’t see anything that I would say will warrant a return visit. Any way, our flight was meant to leave Shanghai at 8.15pm, but it was eventually delayed by over and hour and we eventually took off, they also never gave us any indication of how long it would take or what time we would arrive in Melbourne. So QANTAS having bailed on us,is now pretty much on my boycott list, and Air France, I should have known, I guess we’re fortunate to be back in Melbourne in one piece.
But the rant is not over! For some reason, the airport in France (Terminal 2 at least) seem to think that it’s a good idea to only have one person working the departure desks (and arrival desks when we arrived) which makes for a lot of waiting before you can enter or leave the country by plane, get to the airport early! Maybe it has to do with the financial crisis and they are cutting costs. Now rant over, and we can look at some pretty pictures! I will hopefully start posting pictures on flickr this weekend.
So, another year over, another one just begun, I spent the past four days up in the Westfjords, which were very scenic although I didn’t get to see much of them because of the weather, also I was kind of working. So I was stuck inside most of the time, and didn’t get to go up the mountain roads and get some good views during the day, another time perhaps, the views I’m sure are spectacular. I was staying in Patreksfjordur with a lovely family working on a book about French sailors in Iceland to be published. Anyway, we’ve got three more days here in Reykjavik before heading back to Paris for a day, and then back home, the weather hasn’t been the greatest recently, but it’s Winter so there’s not much you can do. I’m not going to babble on here, just post some pictures of the craziness of Iceland.
Iceland is in the Arctic right? Well, I’m off to Paris first anyway for my first taste of Europe and a properly cold Winter, New Zealand was cold but it was only really cold on top of the mountains. Well, I’m now here in Gay Paris, and it’s anywhere between 1 and 5 degrees celsius, Iceland will be around 0 degrees with snow as far as I can see, beanie time! Arrived a couple days ago and have seen the Eiffel Tower (didn’t get to the top because it was overloaded apparently) then walked down the Champs-Elysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe (I didn’t have a tripod with me so I couldn’t get a decent shot of it (why didn’t I bring The Pod?!?!), anyway, it’s all very cool here, the people are so European! It’s very busy and a bit hectic, I guess that’s what makes this a big city. Anyway, we’ve only got a few days here, leaving for IcyLand on Thursday (Paris time) and will spend three weeks up there visiting baby niece and wandering around trying to capture the northern lights.
It was the Around the Bay Festival yesterday, and I signed up for the 210km ride, from Melbourne to Queenscliff, riding a ferry across to Sorrento, and then cycling back to the finish line in Melbourne. I’ll say that I was disappointed with the result, but in the end, thinking about the circumstances, the time and speed weren’t terrible. I got up at 4.45am to leave for the start line in the city at 6am having prepared everything the night before. But silly me, I was about to leave and then remembered that I needed my wristband to get lunch, so I was frantically looking around the place for it, after 25 minutes of searching, I decided to forget about it and just get to the start line, I’d worry about lunch later. I arrived at the start line at about 6.25am, and there was still a massive queue to get started what with the starting by waves approach this year (actually I wouldn’t know how they did it previously, this was the first time I did this ride, having done the 100km from Sorrento to Melbourne last year). It took about 30-35 minutes to finally get to the start line and leave. I decided to wear my yellow rain jacket (the famous one) because there were forecast showers, and I didn’t want to risk getting wet and then having to deal with that all day.
Riding through the city was a bit slow, probably no higher than 25-28kph, with quite a bit of traffic, eventually I got to the West Gate Bridge and started making my way through the masses as my climbing legs took over (I don’t want to brag but…), going down the other side of the bridge would indicate that it would be a hard day as I don’t think I even topped 40kph going into the wind, I think there was a rest stop at about 30km, I took that as I needed to go for a nature break, and also to take my jacket off (and tie it around my waist). Moving on from there and getting on to the freeway, Princes Highway I think, and that’s when the torture started, a slog southwest to Geelong (about 50km) that was like swimming in cement. The observations page at the bom says that the wind was a westerly blowing about 30kph in Geelong and Avalon at the time, doesn’t seem like a pure headwind, but there was no one riding out there that would argue that it was anything but a headwind. I wasn’t able to get into a good group that I could stay in touch with, I’d see people up the road, and eventually catch them only to realise that they were going slower than me, and I’d have to go on ahead, there was one point when I’d just left a bunch seeing a group ahead, but the wind started bearing down, and I just could never get even close to them, it seemed possible with no wind, but riding solo in those conditions was always going to hurt. Also, at some point, the forecast showers blew over, and I got wet as I didn’t want to stop to put my jacket on to save whatever rhythm I had.
Eventually I made it to Geelong and had a rest at the designated stop (got a sausage from the sausage sizzle, and a banana as well), and the road changed course and we started toward Queenscliff with the wind where I arrived at about 11.45am, it took about 4hr22min, so a rate of about 25.6kph, picked up my ferry ticket at Queenscliff (the 1pm, missed the 12pm by some twenty minutes), and as it turned out, they didn’t even need to see my wristband, just my bib was sufficient. So I had lunch on the grass while I waited, inhaled the apple, chicken sandwich, and whatever cake it was, and lay on the ground (my back in utter pain and willing me to rest), I’m not sure if I fell asleep or just blacked out, but I remember coming to at 12.45pm and thinking I should go for a toilet break before I get on the ferry. What great timing because they sent out the boarding message just as I got back to my bike.
Cyclists were last to board the ferry, I just put my bike up against the railing hoping it wouldn’t fall over, but there must have been hundreds of bikes in there, the bikes were probably stacked ten deep from the front of the ferry to the back, so my bike was probably the least likely to fall. Went upstairs and found a spare seat and checked up on the all the happenings in the internets world, because you know, the internets don’t stop, it was also at this point that I realised how well I had prepared the previous night, I put my stupid wristband in my shorts pocket and just remember thinking I could’ve been on the damn 12pm ferry had I not lost that 25 minutes at the start of the day.
The ferry started going at about 1.25pm I think, and arrived at Sorrento at about 2.05pm, at which point, I was thinking I would get back to Melbourne at about 5.30pm, based on last years effort, about 3.5 hours. And as I remembered, the departure from Sorrento was quite fast once you clear the big bunches, the roads are smooth and flat, and the wind was almost helpful. Moving along at about 35kph I was feeling pretty good about my chances of arriving in Melbourne as I predicted, and was even able to regain some competitive edge by watching some other cyclists and just thinking, I’m not going to let that guy beat me. All smooth sailing, and then arriving at Mount Martha my recollection was that it wasn’t that difficult, some two kilometres at 4% or something. I’d been climbing pretty well, and had done some practice on the hills of Templestowe in the past couple weeks, I started climbing and it wasn’t long before I was out of the saddle and prancing up passing many others, I think I averaged about 17-18kph going up, and then cruised down the other side. Feeling pretty good after that, I decided that I had a tailwind and that I didn’t need the help of being in a bunch, and so I was going to just get into a rhythm and ride, and if I found a group that was riding at a comfortable rate for me, then I’d take advantage and jump on.
Eventually I arrived at the rest stop just before Frankston (hitting my top speed for the day of 61kph going down Olivers Hill, I’ve heard of others going much faster than that, but I didn’t have the energy to burn) and filled up my drink bottle with water and took a short break before taking off for the last quarter of my ride. It was just after riding through Frankston that I managed to get onto the wheels of a couple of guys that were pushing pretty hard, and we were going about 33kph on what looked like constant uphill for about 5km or so (probably up to Carrum or Bonbeach), it had to be a tailwind cos the legs were going so smoothly, I didn’t do any work cos I thought I’d probably slow them down (and also because throughout the day, whenever I thought I’d skip to the front to do some work, the group seemed to drop away as if thinking, that guy’s not in our group, he’s not working for us, just let him go). Eventually those guys got tired of me and turned off somewhere and I was left on my lonesome again, I tried to maintain the pace, but before I knew it, I’d pretty much blown up. I remember seeing Chelsea station as I was on the wheels of a group of three going about 25kph and absolutely fighting to stay on. Eventually I gave that up as it seemed to be wasting too much energy, this tied in with (or probably was because of) the massive crosswind that was blowing (about 35kph), I was finished and just thinking I should stop and take a break, but I didn’t want to break whatever measly rhythm I had going (about 20kph) and my right knee started feeling iffy. I don’t even remember going past Black Rock, I do remember going through Sandringham, trying to latch onto any groups, eventually I managed to work my way onto the back of a group probably in Elwood or so, and stayed there until the right turn to take us to the finish line at Alexandra Gardens.
The tailwind that sent us to the finish line must have felt like a 200kph cyclone because as bad as my legs felt 5km earlier, they had renewed energy with nothing holding me back any more. A big bunch of riders formed and it was pretty much a free for all (despite the traffic and traffic lights) heading to the finish. It was a massive feeling of relief to cross the finish line and get off the bike, and better yet, know that I had a lift home waiting for me (too bad I had to push the bike back to Southbank where the car was parked :D). I actually found that overall, my body didn’t feel that bad, certainly not as bad as I thought it would when I was waiting for the ferry in Queenscliff, I mean, I was sore and tired all over (my neck was aching from the position I was sitting all day), my back was (and still is) a bit stiff, but nothing else really. Right now, I have a dull ache in my shoulder, but I don’t seem to have any real muscle aches or cramps (despite feeling some tightness during the ride in my hamstrings and oddly enough my triceps), my knee is still a bit tender. From Sorrento to Melbourne it took about 3hr44min so averaged about 26.8kph, here is the full map of my route around the bay, I probably wouldn’t trust the speeds that that page has (I never got up to 70kph and didn’t climb Mount Martha that quickly as much as I wished), and it also includes the ferry ride in the speed so don’t trust that either, the map is accurate though I think. So for about 150km, I was in hell, but for the climbs and the stretches of road that were going in a direction where the wind wasn’t like a brick wall trying to crush me face on, I felt great. I don’t know if I’ll do the 210km option again, maybe if I get some team mates, as it seems even if they slow me down (which I think they would :p), at least there is someone to help block the wind (hah!) when the going is tough, and I do really like climbing Mount Martha and feeling like Alberto Contador (armed only with muesli bars) cruising past others if only for those two or three climbs around Mount Martha. That’s it, I have no pictures, and because I had my jacket on most of the day, I don’t know if I will appear in any taken for bv. I will leave you with this video of me crossing the finish line (in my famous yellow jacket) and the knowledge that I played about 20 minutes of basketball that night as well (we lost :().
Me at the start, I appear briefly (at about 10s) in my yellow jacket (with reddish helmet) on the left of screen.
It’s that time of year again, Spring time and the weather is getting warmer, and the cyclists are getting out and about more than usual. I chose this year to enter the 210km event (M-Q-F-S-M) to raise the bar and see how I go, I was going to ride with my cousin, but he’s pulling out :D, so I’ll just be able to ride my own pace and try to tack onto other groups where I can. Training hasn’t been particularly great, I’ve been pretty lazy, only doing about 30-40km each weekend, on top of the 100-125km per week of commuting. There’s only three weeks to go, so I really have to step up a bit and put in some more punishing (at least longer) rides into my legs (and bum). I’m not sure but I don’t think my legs should be a problem, it’s more the amount of time in the saddle and in that cycling position that will take its toll, we’ll see. This year the plan is to eat early and often so that I don’t go dead like I did last year, I’ll probably take some breaks along the way too. It’s going to be a tough ride I think and hopefully the weather is a lot better this time around, last year we had everything, rain, wind, sun, clouds (well not everything, probably not hail), this year, I’m just hoping for a dry day so that I can ride the black bike around. Anyway, here’s me in the new jersey, it seems a bit more snug than last years even though it’s the same size, I might just get a large next time. Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, please sponsor me for the ride, all the money goes to the Smith Family charity I believe.
Hi people, I will post something more substantial when I get a chance, but welcome to the new dtraCorp. This will pretty much be a photo and travel blog, but I will also blog about other assorted items, TV shows, movies, food/restaurants (maybe), cycling, gadgets, whatever strikes my fancy (who says that?). My first real post will probably be next week, and it will probably be a photo post, so stay tuned.