Saturday, 21 March 2015

Tasmanian Sea Canoeing Club 2015 AGM - White Beach

In some ways this weekend was supposed to be my big weekend ... it was my final weekend as Commodore of the Tasmanian Sea Canoeing Club.

The weather was looking fine, the membership turn up was looking good, next years Executive was all lined up ... everything was looking perfect ...

Except ... because of my little bridge accident two days earlier, I couldn't actually paddle - So I got beach duty ... which involves making sure everyone comes back in and basically lots of standing around on the beach chillaxing ... it wasn't too hard at all.

After a great communal dinner, the AGM went as smooth as silk and just like that ... I was no longer the Commodore.


I closed the formal meeting around 8pm, looking forward to sitting back and finally seeing Lynne and Tim's presentation of their recent(ish) Alaskan paddle adventure.

That's when I reached into my pocket and noticed my car keys weren't there.

Two hours later, the presentation was still going, but I hadn't seen a minute of it ... I'd walked the campground with my head-torch umpteen times, I'd completely emptied my car (and every bag in it) twice, and I'd even raked over the dinner area and parts of the beach to see if it might have been hidden in the gravel or sand.

Finally, foot sore and frustrated, I gave up around 10pm determined to start again with the day's new light ... this wasn't the casual integration into normal membership that I'd expected.


Postscript - my keys did turn up.  I was woken around 11.30pm.  Our new Commodore had somehow picked up my keys and put them in her pocket.  It's one of those moments where you're so happy to see something, you just can't bring yourself to be cross.

So back to the main point - no longer Commodore, no longer on the committee - Yay!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Don't argue with the Bridge ...

Some things just aren't fun, no matter how you spin them.

Crashing into the Tasman Bridge on your bike is one of those things ...

It was just one of those unfortunate accidents ... a combination of strong winds blowing down the river, a metro bus going past at the wrong moment, and my not being able to control my bike.

The result was my catapulting over the handlebars after smashing my hand (and the right brake lever) into the bridge railing.

The damage to my hand looked pretty bad ...

notice the bruise on the knuckle
plus I had bad bruising all over my right shoulder and leg.

I also destroyed the flight deck (combination brake/gears) on my road bike which I'm still waiting (two weeks later) to get repaired, but a big shout out to Ride Bellerive who let me stumble (bleeding) through their front door with a smashed up bike and quickly got both me and my bike back out onto the road in the best condition they could ... and all at no charge.

kudos for that, but my take home message - don't crash into the bridge.  It hurts.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Convicts and Wenches 2015 - the 50km event

You know what they say - there's only one thing harder than running a 50km trail race ...

... and that's crewing for it.

And yes they do say that.  I heard them.

So this was Kim's (and Bec's) big weekend as they'd both entered the Convicts and Wenches 50km race ... their first 50km trail race ... here they are smiling at the start of it ...

... and there's Anthony on the side, looking as nervous as I was because he knew what was ahead of us - 6 to 8 hours of intense crewing.

Now, I'm going to put something out there that all of us know, but are too polite to say ... the runners in these things have it so easy, I mean all they have to do is follow the track, or the person in front of them (preferably doing a bit of overtaking on the way), until they get to the end ... 50,000 metres or a mere 75,000 steps later.

I mean, if you can do 10 steps you can do 75,000 steps - right? ... easy peasy.

You just have to make sure you don't lose count, that's all.

We on the other hand, had to do a million, billion things in that same time, and that's a lot more than the 75,000 that they had to remember.

Here's just a snap-shot:

Firstly we had to get up really, really, early on a Sunday ... and take the obligatory sun rise shot.

Next we had to be at the early (7am) start to see Bec off ...

Go Bec
Then, because Tony's a soft touch, we drove down the road a few kilometres and cheered Bec and the others as they went past ...

Before racing (sorry - I mean support crewing) our way back to the start, to see Kim off ...

Go Kim
And that was just the first hour ... seven more to go!

Already exhausted, we were quickly back in the car, and driving around to the 12km checkpoint to wait for Bec to come through (I went down the beach on the bike to meet up with her, and then Anthony ran around the headland  with her for a while - we're the real deal support crew).

While Tony was off running with Bec, I wrote "Go Kim" like twenty times in giant letters all over the beach (you can see two of my etchings in the shadow photo below), but then with low fuel levels in the car and not really knowing how long it would take to drive to the next checkpoint ... we had to make the decision to let Kim run through on her own ...

This turned out to be a tragic mistake as Kim didn't see even a single one of my sand etchings.  Too busy counting her steps I guess ...

The only upside was that it gave me time to get my morning latte.

After our latte and fuel detour to Beaconsfield, we headed to Bakers Beach where we set up half way down the beach with music blaring away as we cheered everyone past us (many for the second time) as we waited for our 'girls' to run by ...

We really were an awesome cheer squad.

Tony (again) went off down the beach with Bec. (He is so nice, it is sickening) and I hung around to make sure Kim hadn't taken a wrong turn ... because you can get lost on a beach without a support crew to guide you in with music - it's a scientific fact.

With that done, we packed up all our gear (our gear being the speaker which was in my pocket) and set off to get to the 25km turn-around check point.

Now at this point I have to say that I wish I wasn't so honour bound by my code of truth in these blogs, because if I weren't, I might be able to just fudge Tony's sudden disappearance from the narrative at this point, but you all know that I only ever write the 100% truth, so it is with great sadness that I say that it was here that Tony cracked under all that 'extra' supporting he'd been doing, and knowing he was no good to me anymore, I let him go home the easy way ...

Yep,  I agreed to let him lace on his shoes and run the 25kms back to the start with Bec whilst I took on the heavy mantle of the lone support crew.

I'd just say that it is lucky one of us has a bit of pluck to stick it out.

Kim, smiling at the turn around point (told you it was easy)
Tony, bailing on me on his way back with Bec.
Kim about to start heading back - the black dot in the distance is Bec and Tony.
(Bec had started an hour before Kim).
Back at the finish line, I really needed to take a nap after all my exertions, but knowing that my runners depended on me, I pulled out my bike and rode down to West Head and then back out along Badgers Beach to the 13km checkpoint looking for my runners.

I passed Kim about a third the way along the beach, just counting to herself 61232, 61233, 612343 ... it was good to see her counting her steps, not so good to find out she missed my "GO KIM" etchings a second time.

I waited for Bec for about 5 or 10 minutes, but then I got worried that Kim might be getting worried that I wouldn't be there at the finishing line and in doing so might lose count of her steps and then she'd never finish, so I hightailed it back along the beach and because you can't ride mountain bikes on the trails back from West Head to Green's Beach ...

Next year I'll bring my road bike :)
I had to cycle down the road, wait for Kim to run past (take several photos) and then ride on to the next viewing point.

I was awesome.

Then, at exactly 75,001 steps ... Kim crossed the finish line ...

Still smiling (I suspect because she had such a great support crew) ...

And not too long after that (I think Kim only got through 3 or 4 cold cans of coke) ... Bec and Tony also came home ...

And that was it ... for them.

Apparently despite my doing all of the work for the day ... I also had to drive them all home while they snoozed.

They are so lucky to have such a great support crew.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Victoria Trip (the bit with Kim)

Ah .. the condensed catch up post ... yet another sign of a dieing blog.

...  So I picked Kim up at the airport on Thursday morning and we drove up to Bright where we had booked into a lovely little B&B farmstay for the weekend ...

It was perfect and just as we were agreeing to this very fact  ... the owners knocked on the door to say that they had actually put us into the wrong cottage ... and would we mind moving.

If you're not already onto it, the positive-negative juxtaposition will become a theme of this post ...

We settled into our new cottage (which was identical to the first) except it was better because it had a cool old dog that could materialise beside us the moment food appeared

Call me k-9 master
Kim loved our dog, and so she cooked up a great big breakfast with the aim (I think) of having lots of leftovers for the dog.  Unfortunately for Kim's plan, I did the toast ...

Not quite ready for MKR ... toast was my specialty.
... and so we were all kind of hungry after that.

Perhaps of more significance, after breakfast Kim went to unpack her bikes only to realise she had left one minor thing behind ... her front wheel.

Where's Wheely?
If you've ever wondered what leaving your bike wheel at home looks like, it's something like this ...

A wheel, a wheel ... my kingdom for a wheel.

.... but nice farmstay behind her right?

Not to be defeated, $49 later (only $9 more than getting a quirt of stan's in a rear tyre - just saying) Kim had hired a bike for 24 hours and we were off up to Falls Creek to ride the single track up there ...

As this is the condensed version, I'll just say that after a great start ...

Things went back to not so great ...

Firstly, Kim who was on an unfamiliar hard-tail, started getting the jitters about having a crash on some of the more technical sections (which was fair enough given she was going to run her first 50km trail race next weekend and for an intermediate track it did throw a few surprises at us) and so she started to walk some of the more difficult bits ... (these are usually the bits where she sees me disappear or squawk loudly)

Kim loves it when I take photos of her walking her bike.

About two thirds the way around the route, we had an 'out' option where we could jump out onto an aquaduct trail and then down what looked to be a green trail back to our car, so we opted to do that ...

And it was a great decision until we came to this ...

which we though was our 'easy' way home.  Fortunately (after spitting chips at the injustices of the world on facebook) we continued around and then found the actual trail we were looking for (ahem, apologies world ... let me help you clean up those chips) ...

I was enjoying the trail, albeit it seemed to be at the upper end of easy if you know what I mean and Kim (who isn't a big fan of tight descending switchbacks) was still taking it easy (but she was on the bike).

So to make Kim feel better, I thought I should demonstrate why Kim had a good reason to be nervous about these trails.

I had been waiting for Kim to come down a few steep switchbacks, and when I saw her coming, I pushed off (on what I thought was just a bit of straight, flowing track) and so I wasn't really concentrating on the trail, more on chatting to Kim behind me to see how she was going, then when I finally looked forwards I found myself with my front wheel already starting down a big boulder drop ... with no speed, and on a really bad line ... and well the rest went pretty much as expected ...

Fortunately, a tree (and the rock) broke my fall and so the damage was pretty superficial.

We were both happy to call it a day after just one lap and headed back to Bright where we set off on a spin around the National marathon XC course which was being raced on the next weekend ...

The course was kind of fun, but several sections were pretty technical (despite how easy the elite racers made it look when I saw it on TV later on) and Kim was keen to pull the plug about half way around and just enjoy an easier, less technical, route back  ... whilst I persevered to the end and was rewarded with the knowledge that I am never, never ever, going to be an elite rider.

Or even a good one.

By unanimous agreement, we decided to return Kim's Bike that afternoon as it was obvious that planning a mountain biking weekend the week before a big 50km running race that Kim had been training for for months wasn't going to work very well - but again, luck was against us and the bike shop closed about 6 minutes before we got there and so we had to return it the next morning.

So that found us, at around 11am on Sunday morning, sitting in our hire car in the main street of Wangaratta, wondering what the heck we were going to do with two more days in Victoria ... we even went as far as checking out options for early flights home ... but it was cheaper to stay in Victoria than move our flights.

Without really having a plan, we decided just to find somewhere to crash for the night where we were, which was when Kim stumbled across another beautiful little farmstay B&B just out of town.

It was just the oasis we needed:  The owners were lovely - no they were beyond lovely, and we had free roam of the place with the farm dogs, horses (the owners used to race them) and even some cool peacocks.

The owners went out to the annual Wangaratta horse races that night, so we found ourselves on the back deck, eating take away chinese and drinking cheap wine as we watched the pea hens and cockatoos come in to roost for the night.

It was a good day in the end, and a great night.

We went down for breakfast about 8.30 the next morning, and didn't leave until 11am as we enjoyed fresh farm eggs, home made bread and jams and just chatted to our hosts who were great travellers themselves and also a fount of knowledge on the nearby rail-trail that runs to Bright.

We finally got down to Melbourne sometime later that day  and then went through the agonising torture of driving through Melbourne (avoiding the tollways) to get to IKEA in Richmond so Kim could buy some candles, brick-a-brack and a sheep skin blanket for the dogs (you should have seen her bike bag on the way home).

One final stop at the Essendon DFO netted Kim the last Garmin 110 charger in Australia (true story - Kim spent half of the trip up to Bright ringing around trying to get a replacement charger so she could use her watch on her run next week - with no success, and then we walk into the Good Guys and they had one left, covered in dust, sitting under a table).  Kim also picked up some new clothes for the kids and then we were on a plane (after scowling a lot at the EuropCar people) and finally home.

It wasn't the adventure we had planned, not even close, but it was still an adventure and it was still a good one ... even if I had to condense a whole lot of the detail out of it. 

Woo hoo - now I'm only a month behind in my posts.