Life after work and the trips of a lifetime

"We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start." - Anonymous

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, your body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Woo hoo! What a ride!..attributed in this form to either Maxine Cartoon or anon

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Last post here

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go......

I'm leaving, on a jetplane,

Don't know when I'll be back again

John Denver

I'm blogging  on   from now on

check it out

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Surfing the WWW

Found on Google Earth... these are all from very near where my apartment is. .. maybe I will have to take the really good camera after all

    and ooooh driving and parking skills are going to be tested again....

    Saturday, June 25, 2011


    6 busy days ahead and now it's time to do all the things I've been putting off, in some instances for a very long time, although there's always someone or something getting  in the way/demanding attention!

    • Training on Steels Creek road in the morning  to test out my TT bike with the  deep dish rear wheel instead of the disc. It's usable for both RR and TT and (hopefully) less likely to get damaged  in transit, so is a smart move if it goes ok.
    • I'm in for a group session of torture at DISC . Despite winning $40 last time there  I've opted not to race the Boulie and proximity to departure date decided that for me.
    • drag Alex to Medicare to reclaim medical bills..his injury, my money!
    • then spend 3 hours at Melbourne uni being a research subject.....topic is arthritis and brain function(???!)..more on this when I know more!  I'm one of the "without arthritis" subjects and have to answer such questions as are you right or left footed, which leg would you normally step up onto a chair with etc etc..
    • both Pippi and I get  groomed..she gets a sedative before her grooming session...I don't! 
    • last session on road bike..ergo or road, depending on the weather
    • motor pacing session at DISC..warm up to race pace then  (8 laps on, 2 off x 4)x3, die.
    • recovery is - lunch with a friend who's just returned from Italy, 
    • then take the bike bag containing my  TT bike  etc to Jetta to be freighted to Italy with the all up cost for 15 kgs (their minimum) being  about $220 it is much cheaper than paying excess luggage and a lot less hassle at airports. The downside  is that once it arrives in Florence I have to pick it up within 3 days or I get stung with extra costs. Florence is about a 2.5 hour drive from Urbania.
    • am - Italian class
    • pm - fly plane leaves in the evening and with the required 3 hour check in time  I'll clash with rush hour on the Tullamarine freeway if I attempt to get there on the dot, so I'll arrive early and either check my stuff in if allowed or put it in the left luggage for a while. 
    Along side all these major tasks I need to:
    • put up all the pictures on the walls right through the entire house.  I've been ignoring this task for months.
    •  buy enough of the RIGHT kind of cat food to last the 2 months I'm away..fussy cats.
    • continue downloading audio books from the library onto iTunes and from there to my iPod
    • pack..of course
    • monitor a certain ash cloud

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Life is complicated....computers, health, training and ash clouds..updates

    • SRM in downward spiral mode: see previous post and note in pix above...NO power mentioned at all..just a gap where it should be...?????... it's now in the post on its way to UK to be evaluated and hopefully mended since a new one costs more than I want to even think about.
    • Sick: see previous post but from yesterday the viral cloud lifted and once again I am remembering how being well and also rested feels.
    • Ash cloud: see previous post and damn it, it's come back.  It took 10 days to circle the earth, so with any luck I should be ok for a 30/6 departure, also I'm flying Emirates and they didn't cancel at all.  I'm not sure if that's a good or bad/scarey thing.

    • Training...I've been doing very little while I've been sick but today I'm back churning up the km's behind the motorbike
    the above images courtesy of Lynzart .I plan to buy some of this image in the form of  postcards from her via Zazzle  so I don't feel too bad at borrowing her image.

    • The latest issues to be dealt with before I leave:  my new digital TV has a "black spot" of non functioning  ??cellls and my new laptop has a dodgy  interface so when you pull out the cord for either external speakers or a headphone the internal speakers don't function any more.  Both came from the same shop...Harvey Norman and I' can't find the receipts.  Today's task is to see if they have enough details on their computer to get past that small problem.  I don't expect to win.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Sick and other stuff

     3 days after having a long discussion about getting the 'flu jab with a cycling colleague ( who also happens to be an infection control nurse), I get sick!  My side of the discussion was that since I rarely get sick (ha! that WAS tempting fate) I never bothered to have the injection ... I left work with 3,000 sick leave hours available to me, so  I "rested my case".  Now I have a sore throat (right side only) and a runny nose..... not the 'flu by any stretch of the imagination but that discussion has certainly come back to haunt me!

    The school in Urbania has finally come back with accommodation information but I'm not happy.  After booking and paying ages and ages ago and requesting an independent (not sharing a kitchen and/or bathroom) apartment, I've been told that while I can have my request for the final 3 weeks, for the first week I'm required to share.  The school here has done my booking, so I left instructions..there's no way I'm sharing...I've been there and done that while a student and don't plan on re-visiting that style of accommodation again...not while I'm solo.  Luckily I've got a car, so I'm not limited by lack of transport.

    A new class member yesterday has just returned from 2 weeks in the same school and while she sang praises of the school, her tale of their apartment's  TV and kettle not working did not actually inspire confidence!  Such glitches might be bearable for a short trip but not for the 4 weeks I'm going to be "in residence"!

     While writing this I'm reminded of the place we stayed in the Pyrenees last year where we were rather too close to the church, which struck the hours 24/7 not once but TWICE every hour...just in case you missed it the first time.

    eBay works just fine when both the buyer and the seller mesh well, but the guy who bought my Corima 4 spoke set and also the Zentis front wheel reneged on the deal totally.  Shame that.  I'll just have to put them back up for sale when I get back.  I wonder what penalty, if any,  eBay imposes on buyers who fail to honour their side of the deal.  I recall hearing of 2 people who were banned after it was discovered they bidded the price up for their own stuff..not sure if it was true or not. Getting the postage costs correct has been an interesting exercise..initially we underestimated how much it would be but latterly we've been overestimating. ah well... time and effort etc.

    this is working well except that comparing it to the PCVI readout can't happen since it seems to be reading extremely high..either that or I've suddenly strengthened up beyond  belief!

    Parking fine
    of all the penalties one can fall foul of, the parking fine has to be the most boring waste of money.  The grey ghosts around the  Italian school on Cardigan Street in Carlton must be collecting a mint...10 minutes over the 2 hr limit yesterday and I got a $60 fine.  Ouch.

    While looking for an appropriate image to put here I found this which raised a smile

    Global Financial Woes
    As a new non-earner I'm making sure I get the best out of my $$$$ and so  I will be REALLY annoyed if the exchange rate, which has recently and finally  been so favourable to Aussies suddenly goes belly up.

    Less than 2 weeks to go. Woo hoo!

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Back on track...pun intended

    The past few weeks my SRM power control..the cyclo computer part of the whole deal, has been giving me grief.  Firstly my computer would occasionally not recognise it and finally over the long weekend, it wouldn't recognise it at all.

    Panicked calls ensued, firstly to Kinetic in ACT for a new cable cos that's what seemed to be the culprit but  just a bit later I realised  there was no sign whatsoever on the display of the word "Power" or a number or even a "- "to say it was there...nothing, nix,, just a blank  ie it had gone belly up totally. 

    So the cable got cancelled  and the next call was to the SRM guys  in NZ.  They were clearly baffled..should I send it over to them ? hmmm..whatever was wrong was not something they'd dealt with before..this was going to take time.  So, what with their probably long turn around and my holiday looming, slow realisation came to me that  this was not the way to go.  What to do?? I've trained using power metrics for so long now I'm not sure I can mange without.  Sudden thought....phew!   use the Garmin 705 of course.  It can read power if set up correctly.

    When I get to UK my coach, who's also the SRM guru there, will take a good look and see what gives.  Actually I'll probably post it to her from Italy.....that way if it's really dead at least there'll be time to get a new one.  Odd though cos it still takes a charge and is still reading the rest of the data, so what gives?   I doubt its a battery issue and maybe not a cable issue after all. Having  just checked out  the price I'm sorta  hoping +++ it's not dead!

    So today was a motorpacing day indoors at DISC and  it was freezing..colder there than in the outer suburbs.  I spent yesterday sorting out the track bike..putting it together and adding the Garmin, but I made 2 teeny tiny mistakes..the first being that I totally forgot that the Garmin wouldn't be able to access a satellite at DISC and therefore I would need a speed sensor..DOH! So lots of effort during the hour I was there but apparently I was only going at maybe 6 or perhaps 12 kph.....all behind a bike going over 40kph!

    I take 2 rear wheels with me to track training 1 with a 16T cog on, 1 with a 14T cog ..this allows me to change gears very quickly..after warming up on an easy gear, I just  change to the second wheel and away we go...and this is where the second teeny tiny mistake came in... this morning I forgot to check the tyre pressure in the second wheel and I guess I needed to, 'cos as I was cruising around on the blue line and when on the bend  it slid from beneath me causing me to show my expertise and bike handling skill. Sadly no-one was watching and therefore my incredible manoeuvre went unnoticed and I have no-one but myself to tell the world how skilled I am!.

    More at DISC next week, when I will have a speed sensor attached and fully pumped up wheels!

    More on the husband with # hip saga..he's not growing bone very well and the surgeon is not very happy.  1 more month on crutches (not that he does) and then a CT scan...sounds to me  as though if all is not good by then a joint replacement is on the cards.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Home and resting

    A reluctant starter at best I gave up 10 minutes into today's was absolutely no use whatsoever saying "shut up legs"........they were deaf. I reasoned that if I could barely keep up during the first few km's it was going to be a lonely 52km ride for me.  Action..turn, retrace steps, pack car, drive home.

    I'm still having trouble downloading data from the SRM but know that I was 2nd in my group in the TT and about midway overall. 2 guys I passed described to me this morning  how I shot past them like they were going backwards which always nice to hear! its good for the ego. 

    I think I was marginally slower than a coupla weeks ago but comparing this effort with the last time I rode the course...this time there was a head wind out, last time not and of course this time I already had raced twice.  Once I can download the data I'll be able to analyse it better, but this time, with fatigued legs and the head wind (albeit not a raging one), I think I was spinning a lighter gear and consequently not going quite as fast..

    I have 1 more race before I travel..ash cloud permitting.  I will be really annoyed if my departure is delayed...more so than if I got stuck at the other end I think.

    Training plans for this week..carry on endurance training with the first of 3  motorpacing sessions at DISC coming up on Wednesday.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Racing day 2

    Today’s races were not long or hilly but they were brutal ‘cos there was a head wind on the way out.   The morning race was 45km with a KOM after 18km of head wind…..2 got away and that was the last we saw of them despite a valiant effort to pull them back over the following 7 or so km after which I stopped pulling really hard as we weren’t getting any closer and all I was doing was helping to drag 2 sprinters to the finish where they’d leave me in their dust. 
    Over the final hill I eased off and got dropped from the chasing bunch although I caught up with them later on cos their pace was varying whereas mine was steady.
    In between the morning road race and the afternoon TT I had to rest, fuel up, change my SRM cranks from the road to the TT bike and finally warm up.

     The TT was, like all TT’s, uncomfortable.  Once again we headed out into the wind for ~10km before turning and getting a bit more speed up.  21.6km later after catching my 1minute, 3 minute, 4 minute, 5 minute and 6 minute (but not my 2 minute) man I was home…… coughing and feeling rather sick…that’s TTing for you.  How did I go?  Not sure as my SRM power control is playing up and I’m struggling to download the data, with my lap top continually telling me it can’t read the device and I don't carry the garmin, so map.
    Misc…..the sky is blue, the temp is ok and I read on FB that Melbourne has fog…so I feel I’m in the right location….if only the hoardes of kids around the leisure park would stop being soooo noisy late into the night life would be perfect.
    Will I race tomorrow?...52 km with  a genuinely nasty hill after 18km??? hmm probably although I can envisage being dropped and having to solo TT home for the rest of the race…

    ..and they're off and racing

    with the first race of 4 out of the way, I'm sitting in a freezing cold Benalla cabin far too early in the morning stoking up for the next race. 

    Benalla is a small somewhat  sleepy rural city which used to be on the Hume highway..the main road between Melbourne and Sydney...well it still is, but now its by-passed 'cos for many years now there is the Hume freeway.  So whereas it's one street used to be a busy busy mess of long haulage and tourist traffic  it's now just a quiet backwater with shops that on a Saturday shut at 12 o' yesterday and so bloody inconvenient.

    The roads close by are dead flat but ride out a way and there are challenges for the non climber.  Yesterday's race was 52km long with a KOM at any other location the slight rise would barely get a it was a prize we all raced for  and I got droppped and had to TT back onto the group.  One of our group got dropped there and was never seen again.

    It's been a while since I've raced anything except TT's and so I was pretty quiet..I'm also less strong, not as light as I should be and older and so had no intention of spending ALL my biccies on the first day.  I did enough work so as not to be called a wheel sucker, but spent also alot of time avoiding the pointy end.  In the group, those like me outnumbered people willing to exhaust themselves at the front and so it was a pretty dyfunctional bunch with only sporadic periods of good rolling turns...once a couple of people don't come through the mood spreads as no-one wants to get stuck at the front for what feels like ever.

    So we were a bit slower than we should have been  and had 3 A grades pass us with quite a way to go..they started  something like 10 minutes behind us and were clearly working!

    I finished with the bunch, putting in a sort of sprint at the end..well at least I stood up and powered down..didn't seem to make much of a change in my speed!  and now I'm ready for today's sufferfest of 1 x 45km road race at 10 o'clock and 1 x 21.6km  time trial at 2 o'clock.  Tyres pumped up, brekky eaten........

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Its good to know at least 2 people read this!!! the problem with changing an address without giving anyone warning is now evident to me!

    I will now keep this address as it has been for the last year or so until just before I leave for Europe...THEN I will start a new blog with the name mentioned in the post before this and which will be also at the end of any email i send. 

    This way you will be able to  access this blog and will get the new address from the final post

    sorry for the chaos

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    New title

    this blog is now called

    and how many capcha idiotic unreadable "words" did i have to type before I got it right???!!!..about 6.......

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Revision on driving in Italy

    I discovered these vids while re-visiting websites full of tips for driving in Italy..actually it resonates for driving in Aus...especially the part on tail-gating

    I remember with some dread getting lost in Agrigento and finding my self driving in the old part of the town where the roads were so narrow I had to pull the wing mirrors in. Very similar to this:
    I can also recall inadvertently driving into a Treviso pedestrian precinct ...realising my mistake at the same time as I spotted one of these:

    followed by a  panicked escape complete with many turns (hopefully so they couldn't follow me!). It was only later that I realised that these guys would not be interested in this sort of crime..the ones I needed to be worried about were these guys:

    having read the following I'm going to stay well clear of Florence unless using public transport:

    From The Florentine (issue no. 95 February 12, 2009)

    Too much of a bad thing

    Traffic fines line city coffers
    Every 40 seconds, a motorist in Florence receives a traffic violation according to figures recently released by city officials. Traffic police issue approximately 90 tickets every minute, 1,253 tickets a day.

    Of the 859,959 traffic violations that issued by traffic police in 2008, 457,613 were issued to motorists who entered the limited traffic zones without the required permit; 250,415 were given to drivers who parked in no-parking zones; 22,904 were issued for speeding; and 7,700 were given for having run a red light.

    Racing and an interesting book

    The interesting book first.."Inside WikiLeaks" by Daniel Domscheit-Berg..worth a read or since it's also on CD..a listen.

    ~20km..more like 19+km TT at Little River and unlike my recce the other day it was blowing a bit of a gale.  Enough to make the flags on the West Gate Bridge horizontal and reported on the weather web site as 35kph with gusts up to the high 50's low 60's.

    All of which meant it was a very tough race for the first 2 sides of the oblong ( travelling north and west) and an absolute blast on the third side plus a medium blast on the last bit.  For about 6km I was averaging 50kph with a peak of 55kph...I kept thinking...this is the speed the pros cruise at but for me this is totally exceptional.  I finished in 36 and some minutes, the best in my grade (C grade) was 31 minutes; I would have won D grade.  Here's the file of the last bit...the to enlarge.  As you can see I'm either TTing at a constant HR or I'm dead...there seems to be no in between at all.

    I used the deepish dish on the front and the disc, but as of now I'm moving to the deep dish rear to check it out for racing OS.  This Friday I travel up to Benalla for the 3day race there, 3 road races of 44, 46 and 52 km and a 21.7 km TT..should be tired  the following week!

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Update: Training, Italian, planning, packing.

    After 2 less than successful training sessions this week I'm in despair..whatever I had before has gone.  Will I ever find it? Hmm..not sure.  Will I keep trying? yup..well at least until the end of this year, although I'm not really sure now that going to the Masters Track Worlds in October will be worth the time and money.  I think I might have to ditch the pursuit or accept a pathetic time.  Too early for 100% decisions of course but the signs are not good.  Need to HTFU +++++

    I've got the front wheel trued and re-glued and hopefully I'll have the rear wheel back in time for Sunday's race.  

    Since I was going to race the Footscray club TT champs on Sunday and also had to do a 5km  TT effort during the week and 'cos there just isn't a safe 5km  uninterrupted stretch of road  anywhere close,  I decided to ride their circuit out at Little River.
    not sure if that's the right circuit, although there aint too many options(!) but that's what i rode.
    This hamlet is on the way to the You Yangs and so I was very familiar with the place from my Orienteering, MTB racing and also rock climbing days and bugger me but the almost-built boat in the back yard is STILL there, looking exactly the same as it did 20 years ago!  The guy with the small dog in a basket at the back of his treadlie was new -  sadly I couldn't get the phone out in time for a pix.

    The weather was skies low temp and no wind- it was so cold my teeth ached, my nose ran and I had numb fingers and toes.  The course..flat to mild undulation with a dead road but what a ripper and I wish I'd thought of it before.  It took about an hour to get there, so too far for a regular training area.. but great for occasional long TT sessions.

    Driving back I was appalled to see a pall of yellow ish haze over Melbourne..when you live in its midst you just don't realise what crap air you're breathing.  I had a mega nervy turn on the freeway though when, cruising along at 100kph, I came across a sign which said..end of roadworks......O..M..G.  how did I miss that?   With the speed limit at roadworks of 40, 60 or 80kph,  I might be deep in the proverbial.

    Getting there very slowly.  I've rented a coupla vids and had planned to watch first with then without subtitles..only prob is one doesn't have subtitles.

    Planning and packing
    Bought the sandals, not bothering trying to find any shorts..wrong season+++.

    I've downloaded a zillion audiobooks from the library into my iPod but having discovered that having earphones on while driving is illegal in some countries and since I'm going to be doing 4 solo mega trips across Europe I've unearthed my old iTrip.

      Next stop is to see if it still works and to research what sort of frequency it will need to work on in Europe...with the huge amount of different broadcast stations over there and with me driving through 4 countries, a scanning one might be the way to go.

    I've also bought a mini  travel MP3 speaker set...not for travelling of course, but for use when listening while in bed...I'm not keen on sleeping the night away with ear buds stuck in my ears and I do have the tendency to fall asleep while listening...!