Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturnalia odyssey

© Jeff Jones

Sun, sun and more sun. But not too much hot sun, which is good. That's the way it is in Australia, the country that has elevated taking the piss to an art form with the critically acclaimed Shane Warne: The Musical.

Thankfully, there was no repeat of last year's Royal Brunei Airlines induced disaster. The main problem was that it rained the night before I left, meaning that both the Bath-London line and the bloody M4 were cut. So no direct trains or buses. I ended up going via the south circular, which meant I had a total of 40 minutes to run home from the station, finish packing, run back and get the train.

The Air China flight was long but it worked. Even allowing for the fact that Beijing airport is as modern as it is dysfunctional. Note to Chinese: please put departure boards in more places. And please swap the 'International Transit' sign (which was the wrong place to queue up) with the 'Apec electronic business card holder' sign (which was the correct place. Obviously).

It was all good, really.

Besides seeing the family (about to grow by one) and not getting sick, the most important appointment was meeting up with Josh for an actual bike ride. He was primarily responsible for getting me into this cycling lark but it's been approximately 12 years since we last rode together. A two hour loop through the back blocks of northwestern Sydney was just the thing for renewing that bond and getting rid of jet lag. That was followed by a 'surf' at Palm Beach and beers at the Beach Hotel in Collaroy. An ideal way to spend a day, if you ask me.

Enjoying the warmth but wishing I'd brought another bidon
© Jeff Jones

Josh in climbing mode
© Jeff Jones

Pete and I also managed to get down to Heffron for the Christmas Pudding race. Initially I wasn't going to race, with excuses ranging from "I did 80km on the way down here" to "I've just started training again" to "my weird geometry bike is not suitable for the corners of Heffron". I was most worried about the latter, although given a few runs around the track, I could probably adapt to its strange handling. I'm starting to like it now.

In the end I pinned a number on and rode the B/C grade handicap, my first proper crit for three years. It was nice and steady but I made sure not to do any turns and not to contest the sprint. That would be poor form. Still, it was better than watching and I clocked up 130km for the day. Pete took some fine pics of the occasion here, none of which have made it into the CN race report. I took some dodgy ones here:

Spurge, Willo and Sutto on the start line
© Jeff Jones

Graeme Brown (Rabobank) wins the Randwick Botany Xmas Puddin' Race
© Jeff Jones

Training has been enjoyable and I feel quicker than I did at this time last year. Thinks: I was sick in bed at this time last year.

Happy Saturnalia.


bikeradar said...

Wow - sun and two-wheeled fun. Just what the doctor ordered, eh?

Jeff Jones said...

Pretty much, yeah. More importantly: no work!

Anonymous said...

I see from Pete's pics that you didn't turn up in yuor (earned) World Champs jersey.

Perhaps you should have...


Jeff Jones said...

Hmm, could have ;-)

The wearer was none other than Shaun Ballesty. The ribbing he got each lap was worth the price of admission.