Friday, September 25, 2009

Photo of the Day

Fog

Great time lapse shots of the greater Bay Area. I miss the fog. From Andrew Sullivan, via my old boss.

Another Cloud Reel... from Delrious on Vimeo.

Moved

What a wild couple of weeks. Visitors. Moving. Rain. Wow.

My hope is to get the blog updated this weekend, since I've not posted about the New Zealand trip (it's been half written for weeks) or the trip up to the northwest Victorian deserts (I haven't even looked at the pictures). But, in the mean time, the move!

We moved from St. Kilda to Fitzroy. There were a few reasons. Shannon gets a much shorter commute, the space is far more interesting than the rather bland flat we were in before, it's larger, it's closer to the CBD, and the neighborhood is infinitely more interesting (at least, in my opinion). Further, it's sort of like the Mission (without the Mexicans, except on the one street with the Latin grocery - yay!). Naturally, the trade off is higher rent.

We always wanted to know if we were cool enough to live in the Mission. I guess now we'll find out. The neighborhood can basically be summed up by this.


A few pre-move shots of the new pad.



Once we get it totally put together (it's close) I'll post some more pictures. In the mean time, let's hear it for that big ass stove and oven!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Out With The Old

For some reason, it seems that big changes seem to be happening in our life all at the same time.

Last week, we gave notice on our apartment and signed a lease on a new flat on the north side of town in Fitzroy. We pick up the keys in about 10 days. This past Monday, we had to give up the Ford Focus because the lease expired. Despite having to have an interim Yaris, the new Corolla should be available today. Saturday morning, I found that the spout of my plunger broke, and it had to be replaced.

Such good memories of all these things, but exciting new chapters in our adventure here. Obviously, none of it will be painless - moving is a hassle, new cars involve Vicroads (which is the same as any DMV anywhere) and a leasing company - there are even visas involved. It's all the fun you'd think.

Thank goodness the plunger is easy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Forrest in the Forest

This past weekend, we headed down to the Otway Forest Park to do some mountain biking at the Forrest Mountain Bike Park, in Forrest, VIC. Still with me?

It's a fairly good sized park, with somewhere in the ballpark of 45k of marked and maintained trail. Some was closed due to wetness concerns, but most was open.

It really is amazing. As long as we've been here, the government is preaching about the drought. Sometimes though, I really am convinced that the drought is over. This was one of those times. It's been ages since I rode in such mud. The trails really reminded me of east coast riding in the US - tight and twisty, roots, logs, mud and trees. It was a pretty cool throwback. Plus, whoever maintains those trails does an awesome job. Three cheers.

Saturday night, after a quick stop at the Otway Estate brewery (and winery) for a pickup, we rolled to Stevenson Falls to meet our friends Bronwyn and Bryan to camp. They had selected a pretty cool campsite, and had gathered wood, since we were late. We're slack, but we brought booze. It's a team effort. To be fair, it's not our fault that we were late. We had issues with cattle in the road.


The local wildlife on hand was pretty impressive, with the standout being the birds. Saturday night, we had visits from a few kookaburras. They totally hammed it up for the camera.




We had a ridge right behind out campsite, and silhouetted against the setting sun, we had some kangaroos bound down the hill. They are a little tough to see, but you get the idea.



Sunday morning, we awoke to the largest symphony of birds that I believe I've ever heard. I can't identify any of them except the magpies. But it was amazing. We watched some from our tent as they poked around the table that we had left set up. Eventually, we got up, and saw this guy, among others.


Then it was up to Stevenson Falls proper for a quick look before hitting the other sections of mountain bike trails. The falls were really surprising. Much larger and more dramatic than we ever expected, considering we had never heard of them. It's amazing - sometimes you can find some really great stuff that's never been advertised. Pretty cool!


Sunday's riding was fun as well. A shorter ride, but good times, followed up with parking lot beer and lunch (so it can't be that bad!) Another great Victorian weekend.

PMU

When I was at the Tour this year, I tried and tried to find a PMU hand. You've seen them on TV at the finish of every stage. I've talked about getting one for at least a decade. It seemed logical to me that I'd be able to find one at the Tour when I was there.

We saw people all over with these foam hands. But, between myself, Erin, and Jonathan, we could never figure out where to get one. We looked. There was a real effort. The only time we saw distribution was on the Colombier when two switchbacks below us, we saw them fly off the publicity caravan.


When we left, I was sort of bummed about it, and I know that Jonathan and Erin knew it. When I came home, I talked to Shannon about it, and she too knew I was down about it.

Want to know how cool my girlfriend is? She spent weeks finding, bidding, paying too much, and shipping a hand from this year's Tour from some guy in Paris to our flat here in Oz. It took ages to get here, and it's absolutely awesome. I've got an amazing girlfriend.

Photo of the Day

Thanks to both parties for propagating stereotypes. Shortly after, she drove off in the car, and baldy went back to work.

Shot out my living room window.


Toilet Snake

Thanks John, for once again freaking me out about the Top End.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Days Are Not For Riding

It's Labor Day. Not here of course, but in the US, so I have the day off. I had planned to drive out of town and do a longer road ride, one that started outside the impossible sprawl of Melbourne. Some days, it seems, rides just aren't meant to be.

The Morning
After sleeping in (just a little) I spent far too long writing back to ancient email and getting ready to go. The first sign of trouble was when I went to pump my tires and found my rear wheel not low, but dead flat. So, I changed wheels (changing tubes is for suckers!). Just as I was taking all my stuff to the car, it started raining. I planned to drop my snowboard off at the shop for (yet another) top sheet repair. The guy told me that it wasn't deep enough to repair (are you sure? that looks like wood to me...) A quick trip to the auto parts store for a headlight, and I'm off.

Get Rolling
I find a place to park in Beaconsfield, and get started. As I'm rolling out of town, I realize that somehow in transit, I've abraded my right shifter blade. It's functionally fine, but looks like hell. Later, I noticed a new scuff on my fork.

About 5km out of town, the road turns to dirt. This isn't really a problem, as the roads are still signed very well, and the roads are in good condition. It's actually been ages since I did a dirt ride on my road bike. Even better, I'm rolling through amazingly lush, green farmland. Cows take notice of me. Most run. But I'm going along at a pretty good clip. Left turn onto Pound Rd. and damn if I don't have a flat tire. Front. Who gets front flats? It's soft, so I ride it flat a bit, until the road points down, and I decide it's time to change it (and have a snack - after all, I'm nearly 10km into the ride).

Preparation is Key
Part of the reason it took me so long to get rolling this morning is because I was having trouble plotting a route. So here I am, with a flat, on dirt roads, and we haven't even gotten to the part of the ride that I thought was questionable. Now, since I've inadequately packed my seat bag, I'm out of CO2 and tubes (where is set #2? ) The only map I've got is on my phone, which amazingly, works great out in BFE, but I had no signal in town. So, 10k in, I'm rerouting, shaving off hours, not minutes from this ride, lest I really screw myself (where am I anyway).

So I soldier on down Pound Rd. I'm roughly convinced that I've found the dual carriageways of dirt roads. There is legitimate traffic. People are doing ~80kph. I managed to find road construction! (Never mind that it looked to me like six trucks watching one guy move a sign around) How far does one have to get out of town?

Keep Riding, You're Stuck
I make it to Cardinia, where I roll past a school with about 50 kids on bikes in a fence. It looks like a PE class. Some teacher is on a microphone. I hear her say "Here comes a great example of a cyclist." I wave. "He's wearing a helmet..." I didn't hear the rest, but I presume that she mentioned my dashing good looks. Unlike those clouds above me that would make Mother Nature nervous.

Naturally, I miss my turn another 5k or so down the road (probably because I didn't want to get off the pavement. I realize it about the time I hit a highway, and have to reroute down another dirt road to the booming town of Officer. Of course when I get there, I'm stuck against a highway again, so, once again, dirt road along the train tracks for a while.

Eventually, I make it back to the car, rather tired from all these dirt roads. It could have been worse though. I find that I've neglected to lock the truck. Luckily, all that was inside was two mountains bikes, my snowboard, my wallet, and some random camping gear.

So Tired
I contemplate staying on the bike a bit longer, but after realizing that it's now as dirty as my mountain bike, I bag it. I stop on the way home at the suburban hell-mall for a cup of coffee (maybe that ride was hard?) and a new plunger, as mine died in the dishwasher.

So let that be a lesson. When you're getting the signs to just take the day off, maybe you should listen!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Photo of the Day


Old vs. New

Tuesday, September 1, 2009