Sunday, March 30, 2008


It rained steadily all night and I prayed and prayed that there would be an email or txt to say that Gearshifters was off. However I also knew I needed to get a ride in, and I knew that a little bit of rain wasn't enough to deter everyone. Never has it been so hard to drag myself out of bed! It's so dark in the mornings now, with daylight savings due to end this coming weekend.

Dee had originally planned to do the Moonshine ride, so I don't know whether I was foiled or saved. Moonshine would have been a real test of my hill legs, but I wasn't really in the right frame of mind for a big ride. With the rain pouring we ended up simply riding around the Bays, cutting through Miramar to try to avoid the Scorching tri. I kept up pretty well until we were almost to the cutting, then I started to get a bit dropped. I worked really hard and managed to catch up. We headed up Awa Rd (Leonie, I was thinking of you) and I overtook a few people, then it was down the other side to continue around the Bays. The triathletes were coming back the other way and it was as always inspirational to watch the leaders.

I got overtaken and nearly dropped again on the way round to Owhiro Bay but I hung on grimly. I was certainly riding quite fast, although I don't know how fast exactly because I wasn't keen to test whether my cycle computer was waterproof. By this point the rain had started to ease, thankfully. My butt was a little cold, but my sun glasses kept fogging up and my torso, with my Addidas running jacket and a sleeveless black vest of Duck's thrown over the top, was toasty warm.

I caught up with and overtook a few people going up Happy Valley. It turned into a bit of a sprint, with everyone seemingly keen to get the ride over with. At the top we turned and rode back down. Despite my best efforts everyone else flew past me. I'm not sure exactly how that happens. I was in a good gear and pedaling as fast as I possibly could. I got a bit grumpy as we cycled through Island Bay and towards Lyall. I should probably have eaten something. It didn't help that a woman drove up behind me and honked, right on a corner. A few choice swear words passed their way through my lips before I could stop them. I really should learn to control that ... I swear I develop Tourettes when a car gives me a fright. The woman in the passenger seat was waving apologetically as they made their way past, so I think she may have heard me.

I'd almost caught up again by Kilbirnie, but then got left at the lights. I don't think I was that far behind overall, but I am still a little slower than I would like. I didn't have the usual back of the packers with me today, so I was really feeling it.

So it was just a short ride today, and I'm a little concerned. I still haven't ridden further than about 60km. Thankfully Dee has a big ride planned for this Sunday, so hopefully the weather will be more favourable. I'm still battling a sense of being terribly unprepared. I'd like to take an afternoon off work some time this week if I can to go out for a bit longer. However whether that will be feasible I have no idea.

For now I'm sitting on the sofa with Ede on my lap, warm and dry and thankful I've got today's exercise out of the way!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cycling Karma

When I missed last Sunday's ride it was a perfect morning for cycling: warm, sunny and still.

Tonight it's pouring with rain and the wind is howling. The prediction for the morning isn't any better.

I can't afford to miss two Sunday rides in a row. So I guess this is the point where I suck it up and get hard.

In other news, I had to take Lola to Capital Cycles today for a quick checkup. H had put her in the car for me earlier in the week derailleur-side down and had bent it slightly. Five minutes and $5 later Lola was good to go again.

I miss Crankworks though ...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Christine Kane has an interesting blog post on things that we can throw or give away. I thought it might be an interesting challenge to examine whether the items she lists are things I am also holding onto needlessly.

1. All the hotel key cards you’ve brought home with you.

Nope - I hardly ever stay at hotels and none of them have had key cards.

2. The doilies your Aunt Edna crocheted 35 years ago that got handed down to you.

Hmm, the few items I've inherited from deceased relatives are all items that are dear to me and that I would not want to dispose of. However I can see a problem in future years when my sister and I have to deal with the houseload of trinkets owned by my parents.

3. CD’s you haven’t listened to in three years or more.

We're about to deal with this one. All our CDs are going to be copied onto our computer (backed up), and then taken to a second-hand dealer.

4. The boxes of cassettes you’ve been meaning to transfer to CD’s.

Nope, all cassettes were disposed of years ago. I do have a couple of videos waiting to be transferred though.

5. The bread maker.

Sorry, I'm not getting rid of the bread maker. It makes great pizza dough.

6. Your wedding dress

Ouch. My mother has looked after my expensively boxed wedding dress for me for nine years now. I'm not going to leave it to anyone, so why am I holding onto it?

7. Credit card bills from 1995.

Nope. I've gotten good at throwing out that sort of thing.

8. The Allen wrenches from every piece of IKEA furniture you ever assembled.

Nope, but then we don't have IKEA here!

9. The jacket you spent way too much money on and never wore.

Nope. If I'm going to spend a lot of money on something then I always wear it. I do have too many second-hand or cheap items of clothing that I don't wear though.

10. Every scratching post or toy your cat doesn’t like.

Yep, I know there's a box of unused cat toys floating around somewhere.

11. House plants you no longer love.

I don't have house plants. I tend to kill them.

12. The stacks of O Magazine you swear you’ll re-read

No O magazines, but I'm pretty certain there's a stack of NZ House and Garden magazines somewhere.

13. Every little zippy bag that came with a Clinique purchase.

Er, there may be the occasional one of those, but I think I've used most of them.

14. Every unopened perfume that came with a Clinique purchase.

Nope. I don't tend to buy a lot of cosmetics. Though on second thoughts, I do have a few samples hanging around that I'm unlikely to use.

15. Leftover scrunchies in case you grow your hair long again.

Nope. My hair's in a long phase at the moment.

16. The “Cherries Jubilee” flavored lip balm that makes you nauseous.

Nope. I managed to offload all my unlikely-to-be-used lip balms at Christmas time. I do have several Victoria's Secret balms, but they're all yummy.

17. Every single regretful lipstick color you bought on a whim. (And yes, “Cherries Jubilee” is probably there, too.)

Nope. I don't have very many lipsticks.

18. Your last four cell phones and all their chargers and blue teeth.

I have one old phone, but the battery connection is a bit dodgy on my current phone, so I'm holding onto the old one as a back-up. All of our other phones got recycled earlier this year.

19. Single socks.

Yes, I need a stocktake.

20. The Spode Christmas plates and mugs you don’t like. (Along with the Christmas bath towels and welcome mat.)

Yes, we have a few Christmas bits and pieces we should probably do away with. We don't really celebrate Christmas in this household. Summer Solstice is more our style.

21. The framed posters you had in your college dorm room.

Nope. We like all the posters we still own, and they're all keepers.

22. Old stereo wires.

Aaarrrrghhhhh. I'm still working on this one. My husband is an AV systems designer. Enuff said!

23. The nails, screws, anchors, and cup hooks rusting in the bottom of your tool chest.

Yep, guilty as charged.

24. Remote controls that don’t remotely control anything you still own.

Once again, guilty as charged.

25. Lamps, toasters, blenders, coffeemakers that no longer work.

One lamp, one vacuum cleaner. They'll make it to the landfill one day.

26. The notion that you will ever be one of those moms that makes beautiful scrapbooks.

Not guilty of that notion! Our photos are in a box. They're likely to stay there.

27. Old blankets and linens you keep in case you suddenly have 27 sleepover guests.

Nope. Our linen is pretty minimal.

28. College text books

Most of them were given away when my parents moved from Auckland to Taranaki. There are a few floating around that I could probably dispose of.

29. Any boring decorative item that does little more than fill space.

Guilty of this one! Not ready to deal with it yet ... Plus I have family who keep adding to the collection.

30. Vases you don’t love or use.

Yep, left over from our wedding nine years ago. Some of them should really be passed on, like the crystal bowls I've never used.

31. Candle holders you don’t love or use.

Yep, see above!

32. Picture frames you don’t love or use.

Yep, see above!

33. All your class notes from college.

No, they all got thrown out years ago. My parents may still have some old school writing books, although I think they were all destroyed in a flood.

34. The idea that you have to save every piece of your children’s artwork and school work because it might mean you don’t love them if you don’t.

Nope. No children, no problem!

35. The “good silver” you don’t use that was passed down to you.

Nope. We use our silver. We do have a 16 place dinner set we don't use though.

36. Old VHS movies

I think Hamish still has a few of these. Yes, they really should be disposed of.

37. Unlabeled VHS tapes.

Yep, we have some of these as well.

38. The stationary bike that got even more stationary after you got it

Nope. If I had a stationary bike I'd use it. Hamish does have a mountain bike he hasn't used in around eight years though.

39. The fabric pieces you’ve been collecting in case you ever become a quilter.

Nope! None of these, though I would like to learn to quilt.

40. Flashlights that dimly light up only after you bang them over and over on your thigh.

Nope. All our flashlights are in good working order.

41. Old keys that open some door somewhere in the past.

Er, I think there may be a ring of unused keys in a drawer in the kitchen.

42. Suitcases you don’t use.

I was going to say we used all our suitcases, but then I remembered an old one I threw under the house when we moved in here.

43. Old computers.

I think Hamish uses all his bits and pieces for his various AV installations. What wasn't being used was taken for recycling earlier this year.

44. Old stereos.

Nope. We took our old stereo to a second-hand store when we moved here. Hamish uses everything else.

45. Promotional duffel bags with ugly logos and bad acronyms stitched all over them.

Ugh. Nope!

46. Anything that makes you say, “But I got such a good price on it!”

Um, not that I can think of off the top of my head.

47. Anything that makes you say, “But I paid so much for it!”

I'm fairly certain I'm not guilty of this one. A couple of years ago I might have pointed to my bike, but that's certainly getting a lot of use now!

48. Half-full cans of paint

Er, yeah. Unfortunately we inherited a fair few cans from the previous owner. I've been meaning to take them to the landfill for recycling.

49. Extra baby items/Old baby items

Funnily enough, we're not guilty of this one! That's unless kitten harnesses count.

50. Record albums.

Sigh. Yes we do have records. Yes, we some day plan to get a player. Yes, we do regard those we have as part of wider music collections by artists we love. Are we likely to get rid of them any time soon? Nope!

51. Gifts you never liked.

I'd have to have a really good think about this one. I think I've passed on of most of the presents I've not wanted, by giving them to people I know would appreciate them.

52. All the cross-stitch, knitting, or sewing projects you never finished.

Nope! Most of my projects are writing-related and ongoing.

53. Any glassware or dinnerware that is a “memorabilia” item from proms or sororities or sports events.

Ugh. Nope!

54. Old information packets you no longer need or that you can easily find on line.

I've just had a cleanout, so I can safely answer no to this one. I even threw out all my old Weightwatchers guides.

55. All the hotel soaps that you took with you.

Nope! It's Hamish who is the soap stealer.

56. The belief that you only have to go through the de-cluttering process once and won’t ever have to do it again.

I tend to de-clutter about once every year, and I get more ruthless each time. I know we still have too much stuff though. Let me cling to the small comfort of stuff for a little bit longer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Got my dose of Vitamin D

It was only a shortish ride around the bays. Around 50km all up, mostly flat with a couple of hills thrown in. However I could feel that I was faster, and indeed I made it back home in record time. I hadn't counted on the Southerly though. I swear it was perfectly still at home in Mornington!

I'm getting better at taking in water on my bike. When riding with Gearshifters we stop so often that it's easy to get lazy and just drink while stationary. However I can't do that when I'm riding the Grape Ride, so today I made myself practice at regular intervals. I'm still going to wear a Camelbak, but I get so thirsty when riding that I'll need all the fluids I can get.

After a scenic ride, and in the best mood I've been in for a while on my bike, I cruised up Happy Valley at a remarkably fast pace. Did someone say tail wind?

It's just a shame my hip was a bit sore afterwards. I am definitely calling the massage therapist first thing tomorrow.

Nelson/Golden Bay, February 2008

This was the end goal - a pint at the Mussel Inn in Golden Bay. This has to be one of our favourite pubs, and we got to know a fair few of them on this holiday. However the Mussel will always have a special place in our hearts.

First though, we started our holiday by spending a night here, at Ruby Bay. Ruby Bay is a lovely campsite about fifteen minutes out of Nelson. It is owned jointly by the local council and DOC. Super cheap, it only costs $4 a night, and the tariff is collected every evening by friendly caretaker Ken on his mountain bike. The showers are cold water only, and you either bring your own cooking equipment or use one of the on-site barbeques, but everything is scrupulously clean.

The first night we bought a hot chicken from a supermarket in Nelson. Here I am walking back down the beach after dinner.

Here's Hamish inflating our air bed next to Piglet and Lola. As you can see, Lola clashed terribly with Piglet.

Being so cheap the campsite tends to attract both families and housetruckers. There's a fair amount of local colour. These were some of our neighbours, and I recognised them from the last three years we've stayed at Ruby Bay. When we arrived their stereo was cranking out some fairly good classic rock. We all sat round and shared a few beers, and they were all passed out well before 10.00pm.

The next morning I ate my breakfast looking out at this view.

Then it was off to Golden Bay for a couple of days, then up the mountain for Luminate.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Summerset 2008

Let's just start by saying that Summerset is probably the closest I'll ever come to a Big Day Out. This is more my scale. Two zones, one small Basin Reserve. Easy to move around, easy to access both zones, food stands and toilets.

Hamish and I have been looking forward to Summerset for a long time. I'd even decided that, given the choice between partying hard and preserving my energy for a long Sunday bike ride, the partying would take priority. So I was a little upset that the weather on the day was distinctly overcast, a bit windy and cool. It wasn't cold enough for the debut of the winter coat, but it was Annah S red jacket cool, and if I was going to be on my feet for twelve hours the ONLY footwear I was prepared to consider was a nice, comfy pair of trainers.

We got to the venue at around 12.15, scoring a park nice and close. The gates were closed, and didn't open until after 12.30. Once we were in though things got underway quickly, and the day passed remarkably quickly. Where did all those hours go? Full credit to the hired crowd entertainers - the young things decked out in 80s style lycra or mincing around with a tea trolley. I don't know how they kept up their energy all day, but they were always amusing to watch.

We started out watching the Open Souls. I've seen them before at the Jackson Street Carnival and they did a good job of warming up the slowly growing crowd. From there we raced over to the Supertop, where things were already extremely warm. It's been too long since we last saw Minuit live, long enough for Ruth's blond hair to grow long, and long enough for me to decide that I absolutely need to get a haircut and a fringe. Ruth claimed to have a cold, but it wasn't noticeable in her performance. Clad in a little grey t-shirt that read "I had a nightmar I was a brunet" [sic], short shorts and green stocking/legwarmers, she was all over the stage as always. Minuit rocked, as always. A few songs in I migrated from Hamish's favourite position in front of the sound desk to a metre or so from the stage. They were a fantastic start to the day, so good that we never got to see Rhombus.

By the time we made it back to the main stage the Black Seeds were already playing. We watched a lot of their act sitting down on the ground eating a big plate of Hare Krishna food. The Black Seeds are another of my favourite New Zealand bands.

After the Black Seeds we wandered over to listen to EBB for a while, then it was back to the main stage to listen to Norman Jay. A real crowd pleaser, Norman started off with cheese, and slowly built up to happier and more uplifting cheese. His set was fantastic, his radio dj style banter highly entertaining. As he played the sun came out, something he claimed happens at every festival he plays at. I was just getting into it when I looked at my watch and realised that LTJ Bukem was playing in the Supertop.

Bukem was really playing up a storm in the tent. Everyone was packed in closely together and the heat was rising. The crowd loved him, but I was only mildly entertained. I'm not so big a fan of his drum and bassy stuff, and it just wasn't doing it for me on the day.

We weren't there for long before it was time to head back to the main zone for Crazy Penis. The bands were definitely winning my vote. We arrived just as they were kicking off with their sample of the song "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Things I now know about my husband: Hamish can sing the opening words to the song by heart, in a scarily accurate imitation of the movie itself.

It was obviously the night for female vocalists. I'm not overly familiar with most of Crazy P's music and I didn't really know who Danielle Moore was before yesterday, but she blew me away in a strapless yellow and frothy white dress, reminding me of something I might have once watched on Solid Gold as a child. After a short break she returned in a very short red number and huge curly brown afro wig. Full credit for carrying it off! While Crazy P were performing a beautiful full moon rose over Mt Victoria, and it seemed to completely fit with the way the evening was shaping up.

We caught Tom Middleton briefly, but he was playing drum and bass which wasn't really working for me after Crazy P. As we were leaving he finally shifted to Trance, but we were already committed to Shapeshifter. They had drawn a huge crowd which overflowed almost to the fenced off cricket pitch. We started in front of the sound desk then moved our way slowly towards the band.

Shapeshifter rocked my world at New Years, and they rocked my world again last night. They have to be one of the country's best live bands at the moment. Their act is so crisp and polished, so professional and yet spontaneous. They morphed their tunes into well-known numbers by other popular New Zealand bands. How many times would we hear Fat Freddy's Drop that night, without the band itself actually playing?

The craziness that is a multi-zone event took hold, and despite our enjoyment of Shapeshifter's rocking goodness it was time to check out Hamish's man-crush, Dave Seaman. A couple of songs in Dave dropped a remix of my Summer 07/08 Underworld track. I turned to Hamish, told him I had somewhere to go and I might be some time, handed him our backpack, and seconds later I was up against the security fence, right in front of the dj. And there I stayed for the rest of the set as the crowd swelled and things started to go a little insane. Every now and then I would turn around and spot Hamish through the crowd, big grin on his face.

Dave is fascinating to watch work. This is a dj who clearly loves his job and who gets off on the crowd feedback. His technical ability is obvious and he really plays his decks. If it's been too long since we last heard Minuit, then it's also been too long since we checked in with God as dj.

And then,12 hours after it began it was over. Was I ready for it to end? Not one bit. I could quite happily have heard another couple of hours of Dave Seaman, and I would also have liked to have heard more of Shapeshifter. I would have liked to have stuck it out to the end of Norman J's set, and I would have liked to have listened properly to Tom Middleton.

So will I be back next year? Oh, absolutely!

I need help

I didn't ride with Gearshifters this morning. I was on my feet for 12 hours yesterday at Summerset, and by the time I got home my right hip and leg were very sore. It was nearly 1.00am by the time I got to bed. I'd told myself that I can't live myself around my training and that I should just enjoy the day without having to worry about saving energy for a Sunday ride.

Of course I woke into a half consciousness at around 7a.m with the knowledge that it was going to be the most perfect morning for cycling. The weather was sunny and still. A small part of me said that I wasn't THAT sore, and I could still get up and ride. Another voice said that I'd only make things worse, and that there was a chance I wouldn't have enough power on my right side to keep up.

I went back to sleep and stayed in bed till nearly mid-day, a sure sign that I really needed the rest. It's now 1.00p.m and it's still gorgeous out there. Part of me wants to get on Lola and ride. Part of me thinks that I should really rest. That part of me is pointing out every other time I've been sore in the past and have only exacerbated matters by continuing to train. That part of me says that I won't lose my fitness if I take a day or to off. However I feel underprepared for this Graperide. It's not that I don't feel fit enough, it's more that I just don't have enough experience on my bike. I've never felt so unprepared for an event in my life! I'm also longing to just be able to go out and enjoy a beautiful ride on a lovely day, and I'm feeling deprived of that opportunity by my stupid body.

This sacroilleac injury always does this to me. It throws everything out of whack. I end up feeling tired and sore and emotional. I need to be gentle on myself until I can get to the massage therapist and work the kinks out.

I think a walk sounds like an excellent compromise.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Gear list for a late summer/early autumn run:

  • running tights
  • t-shirt
  • running shoes
  • watch
  • optional Camelbak or Gu if on a really long run
Gear list for a late summer/early autumn bike ride:

  • cycle shorts
  • cycle top
  • helmet
  • sun-glasses
  • cycle shoes
  • gloves
  • arm warmers
  • two drink bottles - one Replace, one water
  • one power cookie (at minimum)
  • cycle computer
  • cell phone
  • cash
  • spare medication
  • tire tubes and Co2.
Having said that, my new white sunglasses (thanks Crankworks closing down sale) totally rock! Those cookies aren't exactly a hardship either and I LOVE my arm warmers. So much so that I wear them even when I don't really need them.

I've been feeling very sore this week and spent a lot of mental energy debating the merits of rest versus completing the programme. My right glute has finally raised a white flag, resulting in a huge knot and a tightness radiating down the front of my right quad and into my knee. I've spent a lot of time stretching everything out, and if things don't improve I'll submit myself to the massage table next week.

After Monday's run I got up on Tuesday morning and did my lower body workout before work. The programme involves lots of squatting and lunging and swinging movements intended to promote stability and glute strength. While I will no doubt end up with buns of steel (and H is very appreciative) I'm finding it hard to keep on top of the aforementioned tightness. I don't want to have to keep rolling around on a tennis ball for the rest of my life!

I was still sore after work, when I met with Sarah for an RPM class. Does anyone else think that it's wrong for an instructor to advise their class to drink Horleys sports drinks to give them extra energy while they are spinning? Great - let's just negate all that good work we've been doing by filing up on sugar! And was I the only woman in the world who didn't realise that the sweatshirt and baggy tracksuit pants brigade in RPM may well have eating disorders and be wearing all that gear to sweat off a few extra kilos? Sometimes the gym can seem like a very unhealthy place.

I didn't intend on having a complete rest day on Wednesday, but the soreness and tiredness had really kicked in. I was going to go for a swim but then realised I'd left my contact lenses at home. I' m too blind to lane swim without them, so it was off home for a rather fine glass of Pinot Gris instead.

Then it was Thursday and Duck. We went a little old school with a return to power bags. Lots of jumping and hopping over rows of power bags, squats and shoulder raises and jumping onto a step. Unfortunately the single leg jumps did show up the issues I'm having with my right side this week. My right leg was noticeably weaker and I'm anxious to get that fixed up so that it doesn't interfere with my power when I'm cycling.

At one stage Duck had me crab stepping backwards and forwards around a row of power bags. She timed me over three sets and I got consistently faster each time as my movements became more efficient. We followed that up with several sets of squats on an upturned bosu ball, then she threw a medicine ball at me as I did sets of lunges on one of those balance disc things. I love the way I improve so quickly at these balance exercises. It's so satisfying to be able to go from wobbly to stable so quickly.

One of the last things she had me do was squat down into a two-legged jump. I had to power forward as far as I could with each jump. We did three sets of five, and she measured how far I traveled with a water bottle each time. I was quite pleased with my distance the first set, but then the Mad Dog kicked in and I totally flew past the water bottle on the second set. I was certain that there was no way I'd be able to beat that third time around, but I tried so hard that on my third jump I landed badly and toppled over onto my left side. Now I have a sore wrist and thumb! It was worth it though. I made it past the water bottle, even though I only beat my second attempt by around half a foot.

After work I was down for a run up to the summit of Mt Vic but I wasn't going to have time to head back that way because I had a 4.15 appointment in Brooklyn to get another B12 shot (and flu shot - one in each arm). Instead Duck suggested I run up Wadestown Rd at lunchtime. I was a bit apprehensive about running uphill on tarmac, but I was in the mood to give it a shot, even with dead quads. The weather was on my side. It was both sunny and mild. I started off up Bowen and immediately registered a change. I bounced up that road like it were flat.

Puzzled but happy I cruised down Tinakori, then headed off up Wadestown Rd, briefly running up Grant Street before realising I'd gone the wrong way. I paced myself up Wadestown Rd, but never really had to worry. My heartrate stayed at a thoroughly respectable level and my breathing stayed fairly easy. I was almost disappointed to get to the top, and ran a short distance down the other side because I wasn't quite ready to turn around. It seems that cycling up hills is excellent conditioning for running up hills! It's not like I've been doing much running lately, so that's the only explanation for the improvement.

I took it easy down Wadestown Rd, not wanting to aggravate my ankle, which was a little niggly but not too bad. However once I got a short way down Molesworth Street I picked up the pace, running reasonably quickly past parliament and sprinting down the Terrace to the gym. So much fun! Best of all, my ankle didn't really seem to mind that much and was fine again by this morning.

If my ankle feels fine I wish I could say the same about the rest of my lower body. I woke this morning to a very grey morning, the sound of wind and a sense that today's two-rides-in-one was not going to be easy. Duck had me down for two rides this week - five hill repeats up Mt Vic and a flat 40km ride. I hadn't been able to ride after work at all, so she suggested I combine both of them today. My quads were not impressed.

Riding down Farnham Street on my way to Alexandra Rd I noted that my chest and shoulderblades were really sore. I couldn't work out why until I remembered all that jumping and using my arms to propel myself. Ouch! Then I started the gentle climb towards Alexandra Rd and it was ouch again. My legs were NOT going to make this easy. One hill repeat later I was back in the little car park at the bottom of the road working hard to convince myself that I wanted to go up again. The wind was really strong, my body tired, and I was wondering what part of this was supposed to be fun. In the end I managed four hill repeats. My plan had been to ride up and over the top on my last repeat, but my legs just didn't want to play. It was hard enough to convince myself to ride towards Kilbirnie, then it was off along Cobham Drive. At the Miramar cutover I seriously considered turning round and riding back home. It wasn't so much that I couldn't do the ride, it was more that I didn't want to do the whole thing, into the wind AND on my own.

I gave myself a talking to, got some Replace and some food down, and kept going. The energy helped, and once I got far enough around the Bays the wind died off a bit to the point where in parts I may even have had a tailwind. This part of the ride was supposed to be at an easy pace anyway, so I felt justified in taking it slowly. Of course once I got over the Pass the wind was back. The tunnel under the airport runway simply channeled it and I was absolutely crawling along. That wind lasted all the way to Lyall Bay, where it again receded, but it then hit as I rode towards Owhiro Bay. As I turned the corner to start climbing up to Brooklyn the wind caught me again and took me sideways. I was facing that climb to home into a HUGE headwind. I stopped, threw my toys, and got Hamish to come and get me. I have my limits and today I simply reached them. Normally that ride would pose no difficulties for me but today the weather was simply too hostile the muscles too sore.

Several hours later, after a lunch of Mexican chicken, vegetables and rice, a cider, a peach and some very good corn chips, I am hobbling around the house like someone 60 years older (and this is the woman who got asked whether she wanted a child's or an adult's bus pass in Starmart yesterday). I'm chugging down the Magnesium and Zinc and doing the best I can to stretch out my quads. But I'm afraid, very afraid. Tomorrow I'm going to be standing up or dancing all day at Summerset in the Basin Reserve. I'm going to be getting to bed after midnight, and then on Sunday I have to be up at 7 to meet Gearshifters at 8.30. We're doing the Blue Mountains, and I very much doubt I'm gong to be recovered in time.

Pray for me!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Well, that was a bit of a whiny post yesterday. You know what I did today? I ran - for at least half an hour. I ran around the waterfront in the sun, with barely a light breeze to contend with. People were sitting around outside pubs celebrating St Patricks Day, and a group of people dressed in karate whites were practicing martial arts moves on the sand down at Oriental Bay. It was a fun, if brief run. My ankle still hurt, but nowhere near as much as it did when I ran on Wednesday. It feels ok now. I didn't get the stitch and on the way back I amused myself by picking off other runners. I love running!

After work a colleague and I went to a project management seminar and I won a DVD. I guess today was my lucky day. My bruised ego is on the way to recovery ...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crest of a Wave

For most of this week I felt like I was riding the crest of a wave. Yesterday I thought the wave had collapsed on itself. Today I think I'm still hanging in there, though I'm not quite sure where my emotions are at.

I was on a total high afer Sunday's ride. I got up on Monday and completed my new leg workout, then swapped out the scheduled run for a bonus RPM with Jocko. The man himself lorded over his class in an alarming pair of turquoise blue bike pants and a slightly too tight RPM top. I was happy to be on a bike, and I was happy to be in Jocko's class again. I went hard and I grinned myself senseless.

The momentum continued into Tuesday with Duck's RPM, followed by Gearshifters RPM. I was having a huge problem getting my heartrate up, and it was only halfway through the second class that I started to feel happy with my exertion levels. Up to that point I could only laugh as I found myself turning up the dial, then turning it up some more, then turning it up even more, to no visible effect.

So it was with curiosity that I decided to check my heartrate that night just before going to sleep. A couple of weeks before starting Gearshifters my heartrate was at 58, which was itself down from 62 mid-way through last year. On Tuesday night my heartrate was 55, and it's been 55 each time I've checked it since. I've dropped another three beats a minute in the few weeks of riding with the squad. Obviously my body likes this cycling business!

Wednesday was a half hour trail run. Short on time I walked up to the Botanical Gardens and ran concentric circles around the rose gardens, before heading up the Serpentine Trail then back down and around a few more trails back to work. My ankle hurt, but it didn't get any worse and I didn't have any inflammation the next day. I think as long as I stay off the pavement as much as possible I will be ok to start running once or twice a week. Running through the rose gardens was wonderful, with their gorgeous scent wafting through the air. My sense of smell is always accentuated when I run.

Still on a high I got up early on Thursday morning and did 35 minutes on an exercycle before Duck. We went hard on my upper body with an old-school workout of chest-press, upright row, shoulder raises and core work. I lifted heavier than I've ever lifted before, exercising to the point of muscle failure. It's not often Duck lets me do that these days, so I had fun.

I should have swum after work on Thursday, but ended up enjoying the beautiful evening on a friend's boat instead. I slept in on Friday morning, then slipped out at lunchtime to do Clare's Balance class. We did the latest release, which is absolutely gorgeous. The music is fabulous and the moves all very simple and not gimicky the way some of the last few releases have been. My poor body was starting to complain about my week, particularly my quads and glutes. My whole body was not impressed with my lack of yoga of late, and my hips were soooo tight. It was good to be back.

Saturday turned out to be once of those Wellington-on-a-good-day days, a perfect late-summer morning. I ducked into town for a couple of tyre tubes and some Co2 cannisters. I'd already picked up a flash pair of sunglasses in the Crankworks sale. Before long I was out on my bike aiming for a leisurely recovery ride around the Bays. My quads were dead, so I'd ruled out any major hill work. I wanted to relax, not worry about pace, and just enjoy the beautiful day. In theory it should have been easy, but I never found my groove. Riding around the Southern Coast was lovely, but I did find myself keeping an eye on my cycle computer and feeling dissatisfied with my pace. I cruised up the pass of Brenda with ease, remembering how much harder it felt a few months ago. I cruised down into Seatoun and found a little more of a head wind than I'd been expecting. There was some kind of dj event going on at Scorching Bay, and I wondered whether I should stop for a while but kept going.

I was drifting along away with the fairies when I got overtaken by another woman cruising over a judder bar at the old naval base. Waking up I put the pedal down a bit and sat a short distance behind her the whole way around to Miramar, when I felt my back tyre deflate - again. I gave Hamish a call, leaving a message on his mobile, then proceeded to wrestle with the darn thing, getting grease all over myself, but finally succeeding.

The flat took the fun out of the ride. I rode fairly slowly down Cobham Drive, cut through Kilbirnie, then climbed back up Happy Valley to home. At least Mornington Rd felt a huge amount easier than the last time I rode that way, so I guess my leg strength really is improving. Unfortunately, as I hit the top of Mornington Rd, there was a familiar sensation from the back of the bike. Yet another tube gone. A closer inspection this morning revealed a small stone in the tyre, almost too small to even see. However at the time I was too disgusted to even contemplate switching over to my last tube. I walked the last 100 metres home in a mood that was wayyyy too foul for the beautiful day.

Which left this morning and another Gearshifters ride. I woke to a morning as grey and windy as yesterday was perfect. The weather did not improve my mood, and neither did realising ten minutes into the ride that I'd forgotten both my gloves and my sunglasses.

Today we rode to Eastbourne, and I should be pleased because it's the furthest I've ever ridden before. We rode in a pack along Old Hutt Rd and then down the motorway, and we flew. I didn't think I'd be able to keep up, but somehow I hung in there. Without a doubt, that section of the ride was very fast by my standards. At Petone we hit a nasty crosswind, and I started to seriously regret forgetting my sunglasses as the wind blew sand into my face.

We stopped at the start of the coast road, then the idea was that we were to ride as fast as we could to the end of the road. This is where the ride went a bit downhill for me. The wind owned me today, and one by one the other riders all overtook me. I ended up at the very back of the pack with one woman, watching everyone else disappear off into the distance.

Julia and I stuck together the rest of the way, stopping in the village so that she could take a work-related call, then again at the turnaround point to grab a bite to eat and so she could take another call. Knowing the rest of the pack were a long way ahead by now I felt little motivation to try to ride hard, and the wind kept owning me. Petone was just nasty, and I had to ride the whole distance with my eyes almost closed to avoid a painful sand-in-eye moment. My face ended up coated in sand, and it was embedded deep in my left ear drum. The wind kept shoving me into the middle of the road.

I haven't ridden on the motorway before, so poor Julia led most of the way back into that insane Southerly. At one point we were overtaken by another pack (I know who they were but will keep them nameless). Everyone was friendly, suggesting we should hang off the back of them, until the guy at the back pretty much told us to get out of their way. They were riding so much faster than us that there was no need for the guy at the end to tell us to slow down and let them through, and we were keeping well left so they had plenty of room. I hate to sound like I'm complaining, but I've never struck that kind of attitude amongst runners!

The wind on the Old Hutt Rd nearly sent me into a power pole, so I was really relieved to be back in town, even if the Sunday Market traffic past Te Papa was distinctly non-cyclist friendly. I sprinted the last 100 to 200 metres, so obviously still had some life in my legs.

I wonder whether I would have pushed harder if I'd been riding with the rest of our pack. I get the sense that I'm capable of riding much faster than I actually do. Perhaps I'm just a lazy cyclist. It seems odd to me that I have so much less power into the wind. I have to remind myself that I'm still a total cycle newb, and that I'm riding with much more experienced women. I WILL get there. I feel like slapping myself for being so pathetic, but I also feel like getting out there and just riding HARD, just to prove to myself that I can.

Hey wait, there's the Mad Dog attitude that led to me improving my running pace so markedly. What I really need to do is just keep riding, and since there's no question of that not happening, I guess the rest will just sort itself out.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Writer's Island: Rising

What a juicy prompt! I was thrilled when I saw the task set for us this week. Anyone with enough patience to scroll through my last few posts will get an indication of the kind of journey I'm on at the moment. Over the last couple of months I have gained a whole new respect for this person who is me. I wanted to reflect that sense of riding a crest of self-recognition, but also to transpose that into a wider context, that of a population of beings 'rising' to a new level of consciousness.


There’s a full moon rising

swollen, pulling the earth

towards her. We are all

lifted, we elevate -

desires illuminated

in lunar light.

In rising she reduces,

yet her light casts further.

Behind all she touches

shadows expand the

volume of our dreams.

Wrapped in a crystalline

filigree we are

precious too.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Girl Redefined

So I'm not quite sure what happened. Somewhere along the way I had to rewrite my story. Somewhere along the way I had to get to know a whole new woman, only that woman was me. Was I really that out of touch with what I was capable of?

This is a cycling post, of course. If I spent yesterday feeling hungover and blobby and talking myself out of any real exercise then feeling bad about it (all so predictable, all so unnecessary) then today was my lesser self paying my better self back bigtime.

We rode the Makara loop today. Of my readers probably only Kate (oh, and the former West-side duo) will really know what I'm talking about here. First the climb up Aro Valley, starting near the back of the pack and finishing somewhere near the front (say what?), then the smaller climb from there up and over into Karori, then flying downhill catching lights to the bottom. Someone had said the climb up Makara Hill was hard, so I was really surprised to get to the top. Was that it? Duck and I had stopped at the bottom to check a strange sound on my bike, but I had pretty much caught up by the time I got there.

At the top we turned around and rode back down to the bottom, then back up again. This time it seemed even shorter. Then it was down, down, down the other side, the whole way hoping we weren't going to have to ride back the same way. Please, no! Thankfully we rode through Ohariu Valley to Johnsonville, then over to Ngaio and back down the gorge. We were supposed to be riding two abreast but we gave that up when we ended up in the middle of a car rally. A chain of old fire engines and American cars, flags and passengers hanging off all over the place, filed passed us, horns blaring in a friendly chorus.

A kilometre or so short of Johnsonville and in the middle of the climb I'd somehow lost the front pack and anyone behind me. Never mind, it would have been nice to have been able to draft against those nasty Northerlies, but the scenery was stunning and I was pretty sure I knew where I was going. That was about the time I realised the road was feeling just a little too rough under my rear tyre. Great, my first flat!

By the time the others caught up I already had the tyre off. Other than Duck accidentally overinflating the tyre with her CO2 and causing it to bulge alarmingly (easily fixed with a bit of deflation) changing it was no big drama. So thanks Nic and Leonie - that was your tube I used today.

Off up the hill again and Duck commented on how strong I was on the hills. I was feeling pretty good by that point, both physically and mentally. It had finally clicked in my head that I was a heck of a lot more bike fit than I'd given myself credit for. I was loving that incline.

After that we rode through the suburbs - rolling hills through Johnsonville and Ngaio. I had absolutely no idea where I was going, so just did my best to keep up. Down Ngaio Gorge, a quick sprint back through town, and we stopped off at Mojo for coffee. I was feeling a little bewildered. Where were all those big hills I'd been told about? I wanted to do it all again.

So I got introduced to Pip the Cyclist today. It's just as well I like her, because we're going to be spending a lot of time together over the next few months.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Totally Optional Prompts: Different Voices

Central Otago, February 2008

I planned to write in the voice of another poet this week, honest, but it seems my own voice was stronger.

Speaking Out
I have no other voice.
There is no Walt Whitman
in me today nor will I be
a Bronte tomorrow.
It is not lack of imagination,
this singularity of voice.
It is the imperative of
an urge to be heard, a
message forged within,
a high-pitched tone.
I will not counterfeit
the currency of someone
else’s song, their turn of
phrase, their pentameter.
You may know me by
these words I speak, and
greet me with your own.
Poets actually following the prompt here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Getting to know her amazing self.

Thanks to Leonie for tagging me into this great meme.

Here are the rules...
Write a six word memoir
Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration or photo if you’d like
Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible
Tag five more blogs with links
Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

I'm going to tag Sarah plus anyone else who wants to join in.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Feeling a little pleased with myself

Sorry, another cycling post.  I'll try to get some pics up from the holiday soon, I promise.  I might even manage a poetry post or two.  First though I need to talk a little bit about how awesome I am.  Once I get that out of the way I'll try to appear a little less one-dimensional!  Warning, this post will make little sense unless you know Wellington.  

This morning was the second Gearshifters ride.  We met early to practice changing tyre tubes and I managed to get chain grease all over my right leg, so I looked like a real cyclist.  The weather forecast hadn't been terribly promising, but we at least had sun for the ride, although the winds were at time quite terrifying.  

Now if I haven't written lately about my hill phobia it's probably a good time to mention it.  It's difficult to live in this city and NOT ride up hills, but trust me I've done a pretty good job of it.  
Signing up to Gearshifters was one way of forcing myself to get over it and to stop being such a wimp. I didn't want to reprise my

performance the day my trainer sent us up the steep side of Mt Vic and I burst into tears and refused.  

I knew that we'd be riding hills today, but the first hill was one that I've done before and knew I could cope with.  First up we rode around the Bays to the cutting, then up through Maupuia to the prison. The hill is bad enough, but today we were riding into a nasty headwind as well. 
I was very relieved when we got to the top and stopped to regroup.  

From there we 
took off in the direction of Seatoun.  The front riders disappeared and the pack of four 
I was riding in didn't know where we were going.  After some muddling around and a few 
phone  conversations with Dee (what did we do before mobiles?) we found our way through the Seatoun tunnel.

From there we rode back around the coast to Lyall Bay, where we met up with everyone else again.  We found ourselves riding amongst cars with 'cycle event' signs on them and the road was dotted with cones.  It turned out that the international cycling tour that was supposed to be doing circuits of inner Wellington today had been shifted to the coast.  So we had the pleasure of watching some amazing international women cyclists flying past us.  Nothing if not inspirational.  

When everyone was back together again it was off up Sutherland Rd.  I didn't know where I was going (again), but it was 
clear from the groans that this was not going to be pleasant.  Sutherland Rd turned out to be VERY steep.  There were times I was convinced I needed to stop, but my pride wouldn't let me.  I soon realised that my quads were burning and my breath was laboured but that there was still more in me.  I stood a couple of times briefly on my pedals to gain a little momentum, but I
made it to the top without grinding to a halt and  falling off.  

After Sutherland Rd I got lost again.  Finding myself on my own I rode down through Newtown, whereas everyone else went off towards Kilbirnie.  I rode straight to the bottom of Alexandra Rd, called Dee to let her know where I was, and waited.  I felt like such an idiot getting separated again.  I really need to learn to stick with the pack!  

Thankfully I didn't have to wait long, then we did two five minute time trials up Alexandra Rd, back down, then the third time we rode all the way to the top.  By this point my quads were really feeling the burn but I was developing a new respect for my strength and my endurance.  I powered past people who have ridden Taupo for goodness sake!  

The ride back down the other side of Mt Vic was, er, interesting.  The galeforce winds had well and truly arrived.  Some of us got blown onto the other side of the road. My helmet got blown awry, and one of us got blown over just standing at the lights at the end of Marjoribanks Street.  Cycling back to Freyberg became a test of courage, but we all made it in the end.  

My lessons for today were to stick with people who know where they are going, and that one water bottle is not enough.  I get so much thirstier on my bike than I do running.  A girl riding in front of me today dropped her bottle and I nearly rode over it.  I'm nervous about the same thing happening to me, so I'm going to start wearing my Camelback and save the bottle for when we're stopped.  

What you can't see if that I'm doing a little dance of celebration.  Well, actually I'm slumped on the sofa feeling my legs, but inside I'm doing a huge dance!  My problem is that I obviously don't know what I'm capable of, which is why I need to join a group like Gearshifters to that I can find out.  I am so thrilled with how I did today.  

Right.  Enough bragging.  Time to come down to reality and do some housework ...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Happier When ...

This has been an interesting week, and one which provided me with a valuable lesson.  I've learned that I'm happiest when I actually complete my full training plan, no matter how tired I might feel.  I've discovered that if I skip a workout and just go home I will end up sitting there feeling full of energy, irritated with myself and unfulfilled.  

Duck had me down this week for a leg workout, forty minute run, 20 minute hill trail run, 30 minute swim, two RPM classes and five hill repeats up Happy Valley on my road bike.  The hill repeats are up a gradual five kilometre climb from the coast to Brooklyn, near where I live.  

As I wrote in my last post, Monday wasn't entirely satisfying as far as workouts go, and I was more than ready for a good session on Tuesday.  I mixed it up with some leg weights before RPM, doing some walking lunges, squats, hamstring curls, jack knives and leg extensions.  Then it was into Duck's class.  I was in the mood to push myself and Duck played a couple of my favourite tracks, including "In the Dark", which is an exquisite track 4, and "Underneath
the Radar" for track 3.  Track 5 was the insane "Paradise City", with its short sharp intervals and killer two minute power training interval at the end.  I had too much dial on but was loathe to take any off, so toughed it out and could barely breathe by the end of it.  

There was a quick break between Duck's class and Dee and Scotty's Gearshifters class.  The guy next to me was onto his third class in a row and I was wondering about the wisdom of two in a row after not having done any RPM in a month.  No time to worry - I swallowed a banana and it was into the next round.  Dee chose a traditional track 2, a hill for track 3, then it was into a
track 5 without the break track 4 usually provides.  Somewhere in there Paradise City raised its ugly head again.  The guy next to me swapped an incredulous glance in my direction and I motioned to Scotty
that this was the second time we'd been down this route.  It was a case of engaging some mental fortitude and making pain my friend.  I didn't think I'd live through the second two minute power interval, but obviously I'm still here, so I made it to the end of the class.  

On Wednesday I dropped Lola off at Crankworks for a service, the plan being to ride home that night instead of the 20 minute run.  However I decided to take a rest day instead, with my schedule meaning that I wouldn't get a rest day otherwise.  Of course I got home and it was a perfect evening for riding and I sat there feeling thoroughly annoyed with myself.  

On Thursday Duck took me through a series of dynamic exercises, with lots of lunging and jumping all targeted at stabilising my glutes and hips.  I was satisfyingly sweaty by the end of it.
 I was all geared up to cycle home, however life had other plans.  My avocado on toast lunch left me doubled over for the rest of the day with colicy stomach pains.  I toyed with the idea of still riding home, but the idea of vomiting enroute put me off.  Of course I sat at home on Thursday night feeling lazy and wishing I was out on my bike.  

By Friday it was clear I was suffering the stomach bug that had been circulating our office. I started to come right by late afternoon, but ended up having  a drink with two 
of my managers and another workmate.  By 6.00 my motivation to ride home had gone again. Of course Hamish then didn't get home until 8.30, and I sat at home all evening, you guessed it, wishing I was out on my bike.  The Hell pizza we had for dinner didn't help my general feeling of sloth.  I ate waayyyyy too much, to the point of having difficulty finding a comfortable position to lie  when I went to bed.  

The weather forecast for today was pretty grim - with gusty Northerlies and heavy rain on the cards.  Last night I booked two RPM classes as a backstop, but waking this morning the sky was a little grey but it was dry and reasonably still.  I cancelled my RPM bookings, grabbed Lola and headed off down to Owhiro Bay.  Still feeling bogged down with fat and carbs from last night's dinner I wasn't expecting a good ride.  I told myself I didn't HAVE to do five hill repeats, and I'd just ride until I'd had enough.  The first climb went ok.  The second felt easier but was psychologically harder.  I reminded myself that I'd feel like a quitter if I stopped there and went home, so it was up the hill a third time.  I told myself that was enough as I turned into Garfield Street, but as I coasted back down the hill I started to regain that sense of not wanting to quit.  I found myself remembering how bad I felt this week just sitting there on the couch.  I didn't want to feel that way again.  This was probably also the fastest lap, as by now I was just wanting to get it all over with.

The fourth climb started off into the increasing Northerly, which was by now quite strong.  By now I was familiar with the route.  There were a couple of mismatched shoes lying on the side of the road, and on this fourth climb there was also a dead sparrow, just hit by a car.  The milestones were all familiar - the landfill, the stretch of road with no houses either side.  The appearance of houses on the right and the line of cars parked just before the corner around which the houses on the right appeared.  This fourth climb was also the lap in which I passed a guy on a road bike.  
I later saw him in the supermarket in Newtown, and wondered if he was ok with being
'chicked'.  It was certainly satisfying for me to overtake anyone, let along a guy!  

I'd told myself that the fourth lap really would be the last, but on the way back down 
I was feeling really fresh.  Completion was entirely possible.  I got to the bottom and 
immediately turned around and started the final climb.  By now the wind was 
REALLY strong, but thankfully it was strongest at the bottom of the climb and eased off as 
I climbed.  

Finally I was turning into Garfield Street for the last time,
having had no issues with turning right at any point.  I'd been buzzed by only one car, and had been overtaken considerately by countless trucks.  I'd taken my drink bottle out of the carrier and hadn't fallen off or dropped it.  I'd flicked between both cogs, climbed five times without running out of gears, never felt tired.  I felt like I could continue for another hour, although I would have chosen to have ridden on elsewhere rather than to have headed back up!  It's not a difficult climb, being so gradual, but riding up it so many times is just a mental killer.

The rain held off for the rest of the morning, and it was really satisfying to be exercised, showered, and safe inside when it finally started to pour.  The wind is really very strong out there now and I'm wondering whether the late arrival of the front will translate to bad weather for the Gearshifters ride tom0rrow.  It seems likely!

I'm going to stretch for half an hour or so tonight in lieu of the Balance class I was too late to go to today.  I may have to try to fit in a swim tomorrow afternoon to make up for the swim I missed as well.  This week will be more consistent, because I know how awful I feel when I don't stick to the plan.