Sunday, December 11, 2005

Canberra redux

Miraculously, things did improve in Canberra over the weekend after Friday's rain. Not for everyone, mind you, because someone in Curtin was felled by a tree, which just goes to show how dangerous trees are.

Saturday dawned cold and windy, so I headed out to Cotter Reserve to cover the MTB race. Peter Hatton won it by a bloody long way and after waiting for the women's winner Rosemary Barnes to get in, I went back to the luxurious Saville Park Suits and filed my hard hitting race reportage. I'd decided by then that I was going to ride the 50 km handicap instead of the 70 km scratch race, and this proved to be a wise choice.

The handicap was from Old Parliament House out to Coppins Crossing, then to the top of Uriarra Crossing before turning around and coming home. Going out was into a block headwind, and our scratch bunch of nine had to catch some 145 riders in front of us. B grade ('chopping block') had a minute's start, and they'd extended that out to 1'30 by the time we left the 5 km neutral zone. We all had lead cars pacing us through there so we wouldn't go too fast, but I think we got a slow lead car...

We lost one guy after about 1 km, then another soon after. We climbed out of Coppins Crossing and lost a couple more, then Marcus Hayman decided to attack to make sure that we left them behind. I found out after that there was a bit of in-fighting between him and the other three guys in the bunch, which really helped our cooperation. We got Mr Hayman back at the top of the hill and then it was pretty much him, me, and John Forrest swapping off, with Neil Skipper coming through fairly often and Mick Payne very occasionally.

Surprisingly, we still caught 120 riders, and none of them managed to sit on when we got the speed wound up coming home. Alas, B and C grade were just out of reach, with B finishing 20 seconds ahead and C grade about a minute. Nevertheless, we still could sprint for fastest time, and I managed to pip Marcus for third place, $50 and a medal. Woo hoo!

In the scratch race that was run concurrently (via Coppins, Mt McDonald, and Uriarra), FRF-Caravello pretty much destroyed everyone and took 1-2 with Troy Glennan and Pete McDonald. I fail to see how Mr Glennan was honouring his contract with MG X-Power/Bigpond (he's signed for FRF for next season), as he wasn't even wearing their kit, but that's between him and his former team manager. Pete Hatton backed up pretty well from the MTB race to get about fourth. He's fit.

Sunday was not as easy. A 'hotdog' style criterium (two witches hat turns at each end of a 1 km road) and it was windy as buggery. It was a points score race, with 2 and 1 points for crossing the line 1st and 2nd each lap. There were also six FRF-Caravello and four Canberra guys in the bunch of 17, so you can guess what happened. I couldn't get around the corners at all well, and eventually pulled the pin with 3 laps to go after Rob McLachlan had us in the gutter for many laps. And we were the third group.

Then I paid a visit to my former piano teacher Colin Forbes and his wife Pat, who I haven't seen for eight years, probably because they live in Holt, which is a bloody long way out of Canberra. It was great to catch up with them and I have now completed the circle, because I saw the Forbes gels this year in Londres.

Drove home from Canberra fairly late and there were a lot of trucks on the road. Had nightmares of being blown off the road when I got to sleep.

Monday: Went back to work, paid the deposit on the flat (yay), got my new computer up and running.

Tuesday: Continued to get my new computer up and running. By the end of the day, it was getting there. My old computer sort of died, so it was good timing. I rolled down to Heffron for 15 laps at 45+ - nearly a minute quicker than last week. Again. But I did a few more turns this time, so that's something. We only caught C grade with 1 km to go and that means mega chaos = I don't bother sprinting, even if I could.

Wednesday: I heard that our loan has been approved, and we might even settle before Christmas. Woo hoo!

Thursday: Work. It's 40 degrees in Sydney.

Friday: Took possession of a new test bike, a Giant Advanced LE. Very carbon, very light (7.2 kg with pedals), very swish. The seatpost is part of the frame so you have to cut it off just right. I also got some new shoes to try out, so a double whammy there! Nice.

Ozzie Government rushed through 1354 pieces of fairly unpopular legislation this week. Why? Because they could. That's the problem when the senate is controlled by one party - no amount of debate helps. Democracy has been put on hold until the next election, or the one after, depending on whether we can get an Opposition.

Saturday: Set up the bike, took it for a spin at Heffron. There was big money up ($150 for first) and only six bloody starters in A grade!?! It's a bit silly, as you can now win more on a Saturday than you can on a Tuesday, which is much, much harder.

Lap 1: Pete McDonald goes off the front and we see him again.
Lap 2: Dave Treacy chases him and almost catches him when he punctures, according to the Jones/Treacy exclusion principle, which states that if either of us are at a race, then one of us will puncture. 9 times out of 10, it holds true, even in Belgium.
Laps 3-18: We drop people one by one until Dave and I are left chasing Pete, who wins by about a third of a lap. I feel OK, despite saddle being a bit high. Dave leads out into the headwind at 200m to go and I come around him very easily to get second and $90. He did 120 km of motorpacing in the morning, but I maintain that had nothing to do with it. I actually won a two man sprint.

Sunday: Work. I return to present tense writing, which is bad style. The rain returns for a bit and I get wet in Centennial Park for a couple of hours. Then I rev the Laser up to go to Bonnell's Bay, for the construction of Aunty Margaret's Water Feature. It is a great occasion, with 20 persons gathered in Margaret's house in Pelican Avenue. Apart from Margaret and I, there were: Jeff the elder, Jim and Joan, Ron, Kate, Lillian and friend Meg, Priscilla and Greg and children Rachel and Stella, Penelope and Kevin and children Alix and Michael, along with French and German exchange students, one of which was called Sabine and who liked kangaroo (or perhaps that was the other one), and Rocket the dog.

Much food is consumed, including steak, sausages, kangaroo, fish, potato salad, tuna/pasta salad, Ian Parmenter salad, fruit salad, bread, ice cream, bikkies, Christmas cake, and a Paddlepop. Collapse of stout party. There is consternation when we discover that all the water has vanished form the water feature, cause unknown. It doesn't appear to be a leak, so we fill it up and it stays full.

Robert Allenby won the golf. I am back to past tense.

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