sjh - mountain biking running linux vegan geek spice - mtb / vegan / running / linux / canberra / cycling / etc

Steven Hanley hackergotchi picture Steven




Other online diaries:

Aaron Broughton,
Andrew Pollock,
Anthony Towns,
Chris Yeoh,
Martijn van Oosterhout,
Michael Davies,
Michael Still,
Tony Breeds,


Linux Weekly News,
Girl Genius,
Planet Linux Australia,

Canberra Weather: forecast, radar.

Subscribe: rss, rss2.0, atom

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun



Archive by month:

Fri, 17 Dec 2010

Bread - 15:56

Ready to bake (fullsize)

Baked (fullsize)

Cooling (fullsize)
So it has been a few years since i made bread, previously I tried it for a while just to see what varieties I could make and what it was like. Recently I was in the mood to do it some more. Going from scratch using the flour, yeast, water, salt and I also use a bit of sugar and oil.

It took a few loaves to get the hang of it, and also reading up on the process once more rather than my first attempt from memory and failing on a few key aspects. Now however I find the process fairly quick and easy. Total time to bake a loaf of yummy fresh home made bread is around 15 minutes. This is spread over a large period of time. I mix the ingredients and knead it a bit. Leave it to rise over night. Punch it down before I head out for exercise in the morning and place it in the loaf tin to let it go through the proving/second rise. When I return home to get ready to work I can pop it in the oven and have fresh bread hot out of the oven 30 minutes later.

I had been baking it on a flat tray and due to the shape of the bowl the rise happened in was making cobb loaves, however I decided I wanted a bread tin, so yesterday went to the Essential Ingredient in Kingston and they had the rather nice, heavy good quality tin pictured here. This worked a treat for the loaf I made overnight last night. Now I just have to remember to ensure I have bread flour, yeast, water, salt, sugar and oil at home and I no longer have to get over to Bakers Delight all the time for bread.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 14 Dec 2010

Baldylocks at the Coast 2 Kosci - 11:37

Chris, Julie, Dave and I at the Summit of Kosci (fullsize)
So this is not an event I competed in, however I was there as support crew to ensure Dave finished. The Coast 2 Kosci is an Ultra Marathon now in its seventh year. Starting on a beach near Eden it heads up to the summit of Mt Mosciusko and back down to the finish line at Charlotte Pass. So that is 240 km (actually 246) of running, mostly on bitumen/hard surfaces and the current race record is 26h01m.

Dave finished in 33h10m which for a first attempt and someone who has never run more than 125km in one go before is fairly impressive. Most of the people who compete are regular ulltra runners and it sounds like a few were wondering who this Baldwin guy was for much of the race. I took a lot of photos and have put them up on my Baldylocks at the 2010 Coast 2 Kosci Ultra Marathon page.

[/mtb/events] link

Sun, 05 Dec 2010

Paddling at Googong Dam when 100% Full - 10:32

Water running over the spillway (fullsize)
Aaron and I headed out to Googong for a paddle today, we ended up doing a good 19km paddle up to Washpen crossing. We had his camera so I managd to get some photos, have a look at the googong paddle photos, then head out there yourself for a paddle as it is pretty awesome.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 30 Nov 2010

Another AROC Sprint, or more fun on the water slides. - 10:01

Ian and Aaron running to the slides (fullsize)
Or maybe we should just combine the two. Tom and Al did on the weekend. The AROC Sprint race once more visited the water slides (the last time was around 2006 in the Friday night BC sprint race). The course was a lot of fun, and as always I had my camera with me so here are a bunch of photos.

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 24 Nov 2010

Fun ride into the alps - 17:30

The group ready to leave Ororral
Alex had the idea of riding an interesting looking off road route up to the top of Mt Kosciuszko over two days. With a few friends doing support to carry food and camping gear for camping somewhere overnight.

A bunch of us were keen to join in, so we set out to attempt this on Saturday November 20. We got up as far as 3 Mile dam for the over night camp near Cabramurra, however it took a while, the pace was much slower than expected on the alpine grass land based trails. We decided to turn around and ride home on Sunday rather than go deeper into the wilderness as we were not sure we would make it through to where a car would meet us in a reasonable time.

We all had a lot of fun and are keen to try at least the second day of riding if not the full thing again, maybe when the trails have dried out a bit so we can ride faster in the alpine areas. Photos from the weekend are online at my Canberra to Kosciuszko ride Nov 2010 page.

I have a GPS trace most of the way there and a few others have the full GPS trace of where we went (and a GPX file for the full planned route) which I can share if anyone wants to see it.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 18 Nov 2010

Shopping/Touring/etc N+1 - 10:19

Diamond back Topanga ready to ride
As mentioned a few weeks ago, my sister has a new bike, as a side benefit of this I was able to take ownership of her old bike. This is a 1994 model Diamond Back Topanga frame, at this point everything except the headset and forks is newer though.

I have owned a Diamond Back Ascent previously (my first SS) and it is the model up from the Topanga, also I had another Ascent frame I had never built up so eventually sold it. Though this is the lower model it is a bike with history in the family and looks nice. I also hope it looks less appealing to bike thieves than some other bikes may.

After my cyclocross bike was stolen I no longer had a bike with a pannier rack mounted for shopping or similar (maybe the odd cycle tour). I have the black hardtail but it does not have rack mounts and I have never liked riding the aluminium hardtail that much. I have been thinking about selling the black hardtail for a while, however this bike should be a good keeper in my stable, I may still add mud guards to the bike, but it rides nicely, even with the silly long stem on it. I flattened the saddle after riding it this morning as it was initially did not feel quite right, everything else feels pretty good, though the narrow bars may also have to go eventually.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 17 Nov 2010

How we all wish we could ride - 19:33
So most cyclists, and many others have seen the Danny MacAskill street trials video that hit youtube in April 2009. Since then there have been a few others, the last day or so a brand new one has come out that really is awesome.

Way Back Home is based around the idea of him riding areas from Edinburgh back to his home town on the Isle Of Skye. So the video is full of spectacular scenery as well as jaw droppingly incredible bike handling.

If you have not seen either video I strongly suggest watching them (even if you have no interest in cycling), the latest one also has a The Jezabels song on it which is a good bonus I reckon.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 15 Nov 2010

Why I need to go back to Melrose and not be too stuffed to ride - 16:54
When I was in Melrose in SA earlier this year I was a little tired and worn out. Even with the rather interesting looking Fat Tyre Festival on I could not bring myself to get back on the bike and ride some more, instead I enjoyed the sunshine, beers and company in town.

However I found this video on the AMB Blog which has Chris and the AMB crew claiming Melrose is one of their favourite riding destinations. Have a watch of Melrose - The Film and you will see why a return trip appears to be necessary. Preferably not immediately after riding 360km the previous day.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 14 Nov 2010

Another CX race in Canberra - 15:33
In July last year the vikings ran a cyclo cross race out at Stromlo. I was there racing and enjoyed it a lot. There was talk at the time of trying to run a series of them this year which would have been fun. Due to a whole host of reasons the series did not happen, however Simon and Simon managed to get another race happening this weekend.

I went along again and I think this was an even better set up for CX racing than last time. I no longer have a CX bike at the moment as mine was stolen earlier in the year. However they were allowing other bikes to enter. Though I could have ridden a mountain bike I decided I should have drop bars so rocked up to race on my commuter, the 1984 steel Apollo single speed road bike with mud guards. There was a smaller turnout this year, partly due to clashing events and things on, a less CX friendly time of year, less promotion the week before the event (Canberrans have a bad habit of deciding what to do the day before it happens) and a few other reasons.

I feel sorry for everyone who missed out as this was one of the most fun races I have done in ages. The course was set up around the Narrabundah Velodrome (Simon N got the idea when he saw a velodrome used in a similar manner at a CX event in Illawarra earlier in the year) and it worked really well. Jump boards to do your running dismounts over littered around the course, using the oval in the middle of the velodrome, the track itself and the hilly surface around the back of it to make an interesting but not too technical (ie beginners would have no problems) course.

Racing started at 12pm and they had 4 races over the following hours, a novice event (to get the feel for the track or to try out CX for some), a single speed event (there were 6 of us competing in that one), a masters race (I could not do that obviously) and then the open race. So for the $10 entry fee (MTBA license covered my insurance) I was able to do 3 short hard fun races (the longest, open race at 6 laps was around 40 minutes). It was a completely different feel to mountain bike events and different skills helped even. Also the course could be seen almost entirely by spectators from almost everywhere. They had a bbq and beer for sale which was great, I was able to refresh myself with a Boags after each race.

A crew from Melbourne rocked up, they race dwell and shared their experiences from running their own CX race series. Sounds like they have a good local scene with 120 or so people at each round. They have a format where there is a pure cross race and a separate event for all other bikes. Thus mtb owners can race but not in the CX only event. All sorts of things could work, however I think this was a great event and hope like heck something can be done to get a series of 3 races or so (May, June, July maybe) next year at the velodrome. They are planning at least one event in June and I would strongly recommend attending, whether it be to watch with beer in hand and cheer or rattle cowbells at people racing, or to compete. Fun is almost guaranteed, Simon was even talking about trying to get some earth moving equipment to make the course more interesting (soft sand/mud pits, some rolling lumps like found on parts of a 4X track (though not jump sized) and other features.

Anyway I had a great time and would like to thank Simon, Simon and vikings for another excellent event.

[/mtb/events] link

Ride like a girl - 15:28

Ride Like a Girl (fullsize)
When I first saw this jersey being worn by my friend Kath I thought it was rather awesome. However due to it being a commercial jersey and a company unrelated to me directly (AMBC) I was a little wary of buying one of the jerseys. In the end though I decided it was too cool not to own one.

The sentiment is there (Heather and Lib hand out cans of whup arse on a regular basis to myself and many others for example) and it works well with my theory that pink goes faster anyway. So now I wonder if I will last with a concerted effort to not purchase any more jerseys for a while.

[/mtb/gear] link

Fri, 12 Nov 2010

More cool stuff from xkcd land - 17:17
I do not recall if I read this previously, I recall the comic going on about colour and some stuff online about the colour survey. However Randall at XKCD did a survey to work out what colour names in the RGB space are recognised as what by whom.

He has a blog entry about the colour survey on line which is pretty damn interesting reading. All the data is available if you wish to run your own analysis, however seeing what differences between gender are is entertaining for an intro as it is. Lets hope we do not live in a "baige" world.

Of course if you are bored with this, his collaborator who wrote the front end for the survey has a calcluator online to work out the cost of filling your apartment/house/gogo mobile with plastic playpen balls which will get anyone started on the path to world domination I assume.

[/various] link

Jeffson Jersey - 12:10

Jeffson Custom Bikes (fullsize)
With some of these jerseys you may think there is a theme appearing, which is lots of black. Obviously the perfect choice for coming into the Australian summer. To the issue of having lots of black jerseys, I guess i just have to obey Rule 5 in summer. As for the theme, do not worry the jersey I will put on the diary tomorrow will break the theme and return to normal race gear (for me).

This one, another purchase while in Rotorua, comes from Jeff Anderson at kiwibikes. A frame builder who had some rather cool bikes on display that he had built. I have been missing my CX bike a bit since it was stolen so decided I would get Jeff to build me a new CX frame. I sat down and talked with him about all the things I want to do with it and how I want to fit it out. He checked out my sizing and riding style and listened to what I did and did not like about my previous CX bike and about other bikes.

So in a few months I should have a new Jeffson CX bike, I got started on my accessory collection early with this jersey.

[/mtb/gear] link

Thu, 11 Nov 2010

Single Speed Worlds Jersey - 10:29

Front of the jersey (fullsize)

Back of the jersey (fullsize)
Many people know I tend to have a cycling jersey addiction. I used to count all cycle tops (winter warm tops, and summer weight also) however I did an inventory of just the summer weight tops recently, I am now up to 30. Of those 30 I have purchased 4 in the last 6 weeks.

I thought I would upload the images of these new jerseys, just to keep my collection of jerseys online. There were two jerseys sold by the SS Worlds crew, the first one was a woolen jersey I thought looked somewhat boring. This one on the other hand looked cool, colours on the sides, kiwi influenced design, RSSS branding. So for a good price they were offering I got one.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 10 Nov 2010

Rule 5 - 16:55

Front of the jersey (fullsize)

Back of the jersey (fullsize)
So when we first learned of The Rules a few of us were quite a fan of some of them. In particular Rule Number 5. I openly admit I am not much of a roadie and do not obey rule number 1 (adhere to all the rules) however I like to think I do at least from time to time obey rule number 5.

As we are such fans of in jokes we decided to get the jersey pictured on the left made up and the website registered to display that particular rule. Of course I could not help putting a Jens quote on the collar as the man defines the rule. "Shut Up Legs"

[/mtb/gear] link

Sun, 31 Oct 2010

Photos from the SS worlds week - 15:58

Climbing a hill on the course in my baby outfit
As mentioned the other week, I was in Rotorua for a while to have fun on bikes with friends. Coinciding with the 2010 SS World Champs and the 2010 Whaka 100 race. I am now back home and with the additional bandwidth available I have uploaded all the photos I took during the week. I also took a lot of shweeb photos I will upload separately, and have got a lot of helmet cam or chest cam footage of the single track fun to be had over there. I will get it in a nicer format/more manageable size before uploading that anywhere too. (4.5 GB from a Contour HD 1080p camera set at 720p Brent was using and 7.5 GB from a GoPro chest cam that Col borrowed from Liam at Swell).

My photos from the 2010 World Single Speed Championships are on the link.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 21 Oct 2010

SS Worlds, Whaka 100 and the Rotorua Bike Festival - 15:56

Shane half way through setting a fast 52.4 second three laps on the shweeb
So I am in Rotorua in NZ for 11 days for a holiday, this holiday takes in the Whaka 100 mtb race which I did on Sunday. Then a week long cycling festival and the 2010 World Single Speed Championships. One of the festival activities is a Shweeb championship for all the single speeders to enter. The photo to the left is from Shane's laps today, we are planning to head back for another go tomorrow.

I have not been updating much this week, and am definitely not providing as much entertainment on the blog as Burky and Coops from Swell on their Swell Design Group SS World Tour but thought it worth putting up a photo after riding the shweeb today. (Mikal insisted I get footage of it anyway).

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the direct flight from Sydney to Rotorua made the trip here easy and I was able to be here in time for the 100 km race on Sunday. That was a hard race, I made my normal mistake of going out far too hard, average HR for the entire 100 km was 150bpm over 6h46m, however most of that is from having my HR above 170 for the first 50 km. I then of course began to realise I had gone out too hard once more and was suffering on the climbs (most of the hard climbs came in the last 40km of this event). Still it was cool to do a race taking in almost every good trail in the Whakarewarewa forest in one event. I had been hoping to come in under 6 hours however with the amount of walking I did late in the race up hills I was well over that.

Monday I had off the bike, wandering around town, settling in, recovering. Tuesday morning I headed out for a 42 km ride with Heather, Shane, Rob, Gaye, Juzzy and a few others. Each night so far here we have all been soaking up the atmosphere (and beers) in the Pig and Whistle and a few other locations. Morning coffee at Zippys every morning has also been a good start to the day.

Wednesday morning we headed out for a lap of the SS Worlds Course (it is a tough one, more climbing then expected, but I guess they have to break up the over 1000 rider field somehow). I grabbed some lunch and ran in to Col and Adam (mentioned above) some other Canberra riding buddies so headed out for another ride with them after lunch, getting 70 km on the single speed on Wednesday which was all good fun.

Today I had a chat to Jeff at KiwiBikes for a while in the morning about a new Cyclocross frame I am getting him to custom build for me (I miss having a CX bike). Had some lunch and was sort of thinking about going for a ride when Shane, Heather and I made plans to go do the Shweeb thing instead. Agroventures (run shweeb) recently were given a Google grant to develop the shweeb technology to implement it as public transport somewhere. After riding in it I can see that it could work out pretty well for that sort of thing. As well as being fast, dry, safe, away from traffic, it is a lot of fun to get around on. We are planning to go back tomorrow and I will get some better video footage then. Fun will be had (especially with some of the costumes (myself included) that I hear may be worn on Saturday for the SS race)

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 12 Oct 2010

Faith in your training buddies - 15:47
So this is a story (heard through the grapevine) I found most entertaining recently. When Michael "Bling" Matthews won the world under 23 road cycling championships the other week, a whole bunch of his training buddies were down there watching and cheering him on.

This bunch of his mates were watching on the final climb, they watched him come up the final climb in the bunch that remained at that point and said to each other. Cool he has won it lets go find a pub and celebrate. This was before he had gone through the formality of crossing the line in first place. Great to see such faith (rewarded too) on observing his form on the final climb compared with everyone else around him. Go Bling.

[/mtb] link

An N+1 in the family - 13:15

Jane's new Kona Dr Fine (fullsize)
So not a bike for me (though it is damn sweet, I almost wish it were), my sister Jane last got herself a new bike in 1994 when we returned from England. That is a Diamond Back Topanga. She has still been using that bike to this day which means it has had a long useful life (and will continue to do so, more on that later). However she started asking me a while ago about a new bike, most of her riding is a commute in Sydney to her work at Macquarie uni, grocery shopping and sometimes a cruisy weekend ride.

My recommendation for her was a flat bar road bike, set up to be a kick arse commuter. The bike I found for her (thanks to an excellent price from Maladjusted) was a 2010 Kona Dr Fine. Pictured to the left, I got full length fenders put on to make the commute experience more pleasant in Sydney wet weather and also the pannier rack as she carries her gear in panniers for the commute and grocery shopping.

The very cool thing about this bike (apart from it being fast, light, new, etc) is the internally geared rear hub, so it only has a single speed drive train exposed to the elements, also with hydraulic disc brakes it really should be bomb proof for lots of km without much maintenance work. Now I just need to add the bidon cage, U-Lock mount (for the new lock, so do not even think about stealing it from her, bastard bike thieves) and a pump mount or similar.

I am somewhat jealous, this is a very nice bike, though I guess one benefit is I will get the Diamond Back so I can turn it into my shopping/rough treatment town geared bike, so it does at least stay in the family.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 14 Sep 2010

Photos from the SS Nats - 17:06
Though I wrote about this event on Sunday I had not uploaded photos yet. They are now online, not many but another rider asked to see them so here they are.

[/mtb/events] link

Sun, 12 Sep 2010

2010 SS Nationals - Majura Pines, Hosted by COGS - 21:47

A possible new pink bike?
After a few years of being keen to get to them, I finally made it along to the SS national championships this weekend, helped by the fact they were held in Majura Pines in Canberra. Canberra One Gear Society (COGS) hosted the event and 120 or so riders rocked up for a fun weekend.

My SS is not pink (though my race bike is) I wonder if I should get an upgrade, maybe to something similar to the bike pictured? The Hill climb and Time Trial were fun yesterday, then the novelty events were held, the photo was taken by Rob during the 16 inch crit races, which were in fact a race down a hill trying to stay upright on small bikes, possibly the most fun on a bike all weekend trying to balance on them had us all giggling a lot.

The traditional (well traditional for an SS race) XC race was on today. The beer shortcut cut around three and a half minutes off my lap time, so after doing the long lap the first time round to work that out I took the beer shortcut every lap after that. Five laps, 4 beers, around 21m per lap I think, though I may be a bit off with that as my gps stopped when drinking, still it was a fun race. I am looking forward even more to the world SS championships in Rotorua in October now, it should be a lot of fun.

I guess I will not be upgrading to the specific bike pictured as it was later used in the huffy/barbie bike toss event on Saturday afternoon.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 09 Sep 2010

Chance of something else? - 15:24
Looking at the BoM Canberra forecast today it only just twigged that this is now displayed and rather amusing.

Chance of any rainfall: 80% Chance of no rainfall: 20%
I know they are upgrading their information on these pages currently and I am not sure if this is just something showing up for a little while, however is it for people who can not do simple addition and subtraction or is there a chance of some other percentage?

Chance of any rainfall: 60% Chance of no rainfall: 20% Chance of Zloooopwesi: 20%

[/amusing] link

Sat, 28 Aug 2010

A Port Mac Mosey - 2010 Geoquest, photos and report - 21:13

Three of us in wetsuits heading for the gorge swim/trek (fullsize)
The photo on the left is no the most common AR image, three of us in wetsuits (though it could happen in a canyoning leg also) but it captures a good race image I think. The photo is of course from my Geoquest race report, not as long as some it has 7800 words or so, 110 images and can be found on the 2010 Geoquest - Team - A Port Mac Mosey page I put up.

We had an awesome support crew with Amanda and Prue, some support from a sponsor and a laid back attitude to the event. We were heading up there expecting to finish mid field, so it was a pleasant surprise to be higher up in the ranking. Fun was definitely had which is what matters most. Have a read if you are interested, it is a good event.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 26 Aug 2010

Blorthday on time - 14:55
Well what do you know, it is this diary's 6th Blorthday, first post was August 26th 2004. Nothing special really apart from the fact I noticed on the correct day for the first time in years and the fact I still write stuff here from time to time for no one to read. What fun, I wonder if I need Beer or Sparkling wine to celebrate, though as I am at work right now that may be ill advised.

[/various] link

Wed, 11 Aug 2010

New Bike/Kayak/Gear Transport Mechanism - 19:13

New gear transporter (fullsize)
My old car (pictured with my multi sport boat on the roof) (a 1991 model Toyota Corolla 4wd Wagon) finally packed it in around a month ago. The head gasket blew, the car had done 363,000 on its first engine and was getting on in years. Though I was not happy with the idea of scrapping a huge hunk of metal and other stuff and getting myself a new huge hunk of metal, it was getting to the point where it would cost more to keep going than the price of the car.

Fixing the head gasket would be almost $2,000, then keeping a 20 year old engine with that many km going may require replacing it or a rebuild, both expensive and problem prone operations, especially as other things in the car were wearing out over time. So I got the car sent to the scrap people and started looking for a new car. I had owned the Corolla since 1999 or so, and it had been in the family for longer. Now I wonder if I have been marketed at too successfully by Subaru, I did not seriously consider anything apart from Subaru models.

Toyota lost my vote (so to speak) when they killed off the corolla 4wd wagon in the 90s in favour of the thing (that should be used for rocket launcher target practice IMO) called the Rav4. To me a car is a gear (kayak, bicycle, ski, other outdoor gear) transport mechanism. I try to do all my shopping and commuting by bike and generally try to avoid using a car unless I need to go on a trip or move gear around.

Initially I was thinking about the Outback, however talking with many friends about it I decided a Forester was a preferable purchase for what I look for in a vehicle (more room inside for gear and bit lighter so more fuel efficient and the same or a little bit more clearance depending on the year model). I was not looking too seriously, just asking around and looking into options when I saw this one for sale, here in Canberra (less than 1km from my house as it turns out), for a fantastic price. Thinking it was almost too good to be true, I headed over to have a look, got it checked out by a mechanic, agreed to purchase it and here I am with a new car less than a week from seeing it.

Of course I now have the same car (brand) as every other mountain biker and adventure racer (well at least 50% of them if car parks at events are an indication), still I hear there is a good reason they are so common. Reliable, holds gear, keeps going. I am happy it is not silver or white too. This one is a MY04, has 107,000km on the clock and has a good full service history, lets hope it lasts, at least until we have some replacement for fossil fuel powered cars in common use or something.

[/various] link

Wed, 04 Aug 2010

Oh no am I becoming a trend following roadie - 17:20

My roadie team kit (fullsize)
A few weeks ago (just before D and G flew off to Europe) I noticed Cadel Evans' wife mention the BMC racing team shop on Twitter. So I headed off to have a look and see what they had for sale. Lo and behold they had full team kit (bib knicks and jersey) in a kit bag for CHF 60 (which is approximately AUD $60) a set. Wow brilliant price for that cycle gear, G wanted a set too, so I bought two sets, with postage it became around AUD $80 each. Still a great price.

As can be seen to the left it arrived the other day, it is not Hincapie Sportswear clothing (I have one Hincapie jersey which I like well enough) however is a full euro pro roadie team kit. This may come as a shock (it does to me) as, although I have many cycle jerseys, they tend to be more unusual or interesting designs, I have never really understood why people wear euro pro team jerseys with sponsors product littered all over them, and pay a premium price for them. My exception to this is the T-Mobile womens jersey as Hot Pink Flames are cool.

However I like Cadel and I like the look of the BMC kit, it is also pretty simple with only BMC mentioned on the kit, so no other sponsor names all over the clothing. The price was too good to pass up, now to find out if I like wearing bib knicks (my first pair ever).

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 27 Jul 2010

A horse has won - 10:23
During the Tour de France coverage every year there is a lot of repetition of the ads by the major sponsor of the broadcast for SBS. Generally by the end of the tour we are all sick of the same ads all the time. This year the same definitely applied to various ads, such as the cyclists walking up the hill Rabobank laziness ad and the LG ad with the eat a pie on the couch ad.

There were two other ads from those same brands though I did not get sick of, I wonder if it was because they did not play them much (I can not find copies online anywhere either) or if it was because they really did amuse me. I find some of the other ads may be cute or funny the first few times but get old really fast.

My two favourite ads this year were the Rabobank laziness ad with the horse race caller (I think there may have been more than one version of this with a slightly different call too). Going on about furry things racing, then saying a horse has won. The other was from LG, also advertising the DVR, however this had a surreal seeming lion dancing after jumping out of the letter box. As you can see I can not even remember most of the details from these ads though I laughed at the time so they obviously were not played as often as others. I wonder why they do not show the whole spread of ads for the products more, it would at least lessen the boredom of only seeing the same ad all the time.

In other news I can not decide if I think it is hell cool or scary that you will soon be able to have a tour of Jenolan caves in Klingon.

[/various] link

Fri, 16 Jul 2010

I never thought I would say awesome and karaoke in the same sentence - 18:25
I saw this link on kottke today, about the funny or die mob getting Jewel to perform her own songs in disguise at a karaoke bar. They put a fake nose on her, a wig make up and dressed her up as a business woman, with hired actors also dressed as office workers she went there as a group.

I thought this was awesome, that the crowd all thought she was incredible and surprised someone that good was not professional. I keep wondering what level of fan you need to be to be sure it is her despite appearances, I keep thinking if Ani did something like this I would recognise as soon as she started singing, however our brain plays all sorts of tricks on us and they really set this up well so who knows. Well worth watching I think even if you are not a fan of Jewel.

[/various] link

Today's strangely named Debian package - 16:25
I was looking through Debian packages that have something to do with image analysis and see what code there was out there for working out meta information about images. One that showed up when looking at python itk bindings was perlprimer.

This definitely sounded odd as the package name suggests it is some sort of perl instruction package. When I looked at the output of apt-cache show perlprimer I thought it even stranger. In the description is the following "open-source GUI application written in Perl that designs primers for standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), bisulphite PCR, real-time PCR (QPCR) and sequencing.".

So this is in fact a genetic research related package, with the name perlprimer (it is admittedly written in perl). I know Debian packages tend to be named on a first in first named basis, however this definitely strikes me as deceptive/strange. Obviously all mad gene scientists are out there trying to hide their work with deceptive package names... or something.

[/comp/software] link

Fri, 02 Jul 2010

USB key destruction, Game On! - 11:15
Back in 2008 I lost and then destroyed some cute tiny pink metallic usb keys, I decided if I buy another usb key it should be one of the water proof, shock proof, dust proof variety. Today I bought an 8GB PNY Lovely Attache stick in pink (easy to find for sale with a google search), though the image etched into it is a bit sex and the cityish (especially with the pink cover) it does claim to be water proof, dust proof and shock proof. Game On!

[/comp/hardware] link

Thu, 01 Jul 2010

The week in politics - 21:17

Another great political cartoon
I do not watch much tv, this includes not watching the tv news. I read two news papers almost daily, however that does cause a lag in my news acquisition. Last Wednesday night I was talking on the phone with my grandmother and she mentioned it looked like a big night in politics with a meeting in t he pm's office between Rudd and Gillard and news of a possible spill.

This news was indeed surprising, a first term prime minister and such a quick move against him. The change probably will not change my voting pattern at all, I think Abbott is a raving lunatic and generally ascribe that world view (being a raving lunatic) to the entire liberal party. There has been a disturbing move further right of the Labour party for years now which I am constantly concerned by. I have for a long while now voted Green federally and in ACT simply because my world views suggests we need to stop thinking about money and more about the planet and various other things that this party tends to come closer on than the rest of the parties.

It has been interesting to see that though he was the most popular prime minister Australia has ever had, many people never seemed to know what Rudd stood for, once they began to believe he is simply another politician and will sacrifice previously claimed beliefs (climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time) for political reasons many people it seems began to think much of what he said may as well be non core promises (to bring in a Howardism).

I have to say I thought Rudd's being in question time on Thursday last week was one of the bravest things I have seen a politician do, and I think it is upsetting and sad for him and we saw a lot of emotion in his final press conference. However from what I hear he was not a pleasant person to work with and could be quite offensive in high level meetings for various reasons, sure he worked his arse off (hence why I think the cartoon on the left is so good) and did do many good things for Australia it does seem like much of the reasons people did not stick by him in poor polling times was that he had closed himself off from the rest of the clever people available to him at large.

I think it is great to see a female PM and I think Gillard could do a lot of good things, I am happy to have an atheist PM (though it is upsetting that the right wing elements of the Labour party probably have enough influence that the government's God Bothering tendencies will remain, such as no gay marriage and the Internet filter stupidity will remain), however I really do hope that at the upcoming federal election the Greens hold enough power that Labour has to get them fully on side to create a good working government. So far I think the Green arrangement in ACT has been a good thing, the Stanhope government is still ignoring them more than I think it should be, however it has bought advantages to ACT so far I think.

Still it has been an incredible week in politics and there have been many awesome political cartoons to cheer us all up too.

[/various] link

Tue, 15 Jun 2010

Finished the Kona Mawson MTB Marathon - 11:16
Andrew and I finished the 367 km mtb ride in 19h52m, there are photos and a report online. We were a little disappointed not to finish faster, however it was a great event and the scenery was incredible. Good to see Claire and Joel win mixed (and 5th overall), Brett Bellchambers riding a geared bike and giving it a good stab with Jason McAvoy (4th overall), Mark Tupalski coming 3rd with Mark Fenner and Bec and Phil finished too to make up the Canberra contingent there.

It would be nice to be able to run/walk up some of the mountains and really see more of the area, however this event at least got me down to the area which tends to be how my tourism is focused now days (around events and racing). Thanks to Andrew for a good race.

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 09 Jun 2010

A ride in the desert - 10:36
I am heading to South Australia this evening, and hopping on a bus tomorrow morning to get up to Blinman for the start of the 2010 Kona Mawson MTB Marathon. People competing in the 4 day stage race have already started this morning, however those of us doing the non stop option start on Friday morning.

I am looking forward to this event for a number of reasons. I have never been to parts of Australia that look like classic Australian Desert (or the Red Centre as it is known). I have been told that the Flinders Ranges definitely live up to this look. Lots of big Australian desert to look at. I have not competed in a 24 hour race solo since 2004 so I am looking forward to this as it will take me out of my comfort zone in my best discipline again. (AR is different as you change discipline fairly often).

Andrew and I are both fairly bike fit and should be able to get along at a good pace for the whole event, I plan to take photos while riding but will be working hard to avoid wasting time and stopping much. Hoping to get in under 20 hours to the finish at Melrose, and who knows once we finish and rest a bit I can even hope I feel up to walking/running up Mount Remarkable in Melrose. However that is on Saturday and we still have 367km of mountain biking starting at 7:30am on Friday morning to get through. Bring it on.

[/mtb/events] link

Sat, 05 Jun 2010

Journalism tomorrow - 16:04
I was interested to read this article about the efforts being made to help ensure the future of high quality journalism by Google. I guess I am biased toward the availability of news papers and reporting as I read two most days. I also admit I have not tried some new way of reading news on an iPad or tablet, however I have never enjoyed the websites for the papers I read (The Canberra Times and The Australian).

I suspect some of the bits this article touches upon pertain to this, newspapers are expert at placing their content in the format that works for the traditional delivery (thus I find it more pleasant and easy to read papers on paper), they have not yet managed to work into the online format perfectly yet. However I like to think Google are correct in pointing out quality journalism will work with better advertising revenue in the future with online delivery than it does now with 70% of the cost of some newspapers going into the production of printed paper news delivery.

The only online broad news site I look at much is the ABC News site, I also will look at links from blogs I read, however the online news sources I do regularly check are very focused such as the cycling web sites I read.

I do not hear as much in Australia about the death of journalism and newspapers struggling as I hear coming from the US (it could well be that the lack of craigslist in Australia is a large influence on this), however it is obvious the traditional revenue models for newspapers will not continue to work around the world. I really hope the media and journalism around the world can cope with this sensibly and find a way to work and flourish on the Internet. If they dig in their heels and fight to hold onto broken business models rather than embracing new models they will simply end up looking stupid just as the music and movie industry has.

Of course it was interesting the point in the article about how new news models have popped up rather suddenly over the last 100 years and changed parts of the industry in some respects (Fox news, Jon Stewart, Time Magazine). It seems at the moment that Murdoch for example is too tied to current business models to embrace the Internet properly, so it will be interesting to see if parts of Newscorp work out how to work on the Internet or if over the coming decade something new springs up employing journalists delivering quality content funded the way Google envisions.

[/various] link

Wed, 02 Jun 2010

Survival of the fittest in other fields - 14:30
This M&M testing and breeding is the sort of thing I would expect to see Mikal doing on a day when bored with other activities. It does make you think, what other places do we want to see a survival of the fittest style testing regime happen?

With many things we use it already happens, such as bike parts, software, recipes. They go through a process of engineering/development/evolution over time (though guided by us, unlike in nature). Of course the M&M breeding is simply someone choosing to apply their own criterion to their candy that was not the evolutionary criterion applied by the company that made them. So the question is what evolutionary criterion do you want applied to everyday things that so far tend not to be.

Say if you buy a hardback book, you either want it as soon as it is available or you need another device with which to cause injury to others. Try hitting someone with the book if they stay conscious you need to find sturdier books. Of course it really is pretty cool when scientists and engineers redefine their work such that they look for something with different qualities/goals (or get lucky and discover something awesome they were not looking for).

This seems to be an ongoing failure in modern research funding, with a goal/result oriented funding appearing world wide often, if people can not research all manner of things in their field of interest we are less likely to have the accidental discoveries that so often change history. Though funding experts in the field to research their interests works, as is pointed out in this list of 10 accidental discoveries, "That's the genius behind all these accidental inventions - the scientists were prepared. They did their science on the brink and were able to see the magic in a mistake, set-back, or coincidence."

Good to see M&M recognised this, gave the man a bag of M&M's and let him get on with his research.

[/various] link

Tue, 01 Jun 2010

Bucking the trend - 16:58
Almost all my stuff on the diary recently have been in the mtb or mtb/events category, obviously I should do something different and write about something else. Heck maybe it is time to write the great Canberran novel about squirrel infestation.... though it would be kinda short seeing how we don't have any squirrels here.

I keep thinking of a suggestion made by Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti with a footnote along the lines of

P.S.S. My god, is there anything as intrinsically bloggy as a long and tedious
post explaining why you haven't been blogging? Someone should start a blog
that consists solely of daily, long-winded, and humorous entries purporting to
explain why it hasn't been updated. Free idea. Yours for the taking.

Which I thought at the time would be great, however it would require far more ability and dedication to the cause than I have. Also I do from time to time write stuff here rather than simply come along saying geez I have not written much.

I was actually thinking about the fact I do not seem to be trying to write here much these days (definitely not as often as when Andrew gave me a you are blog obsessed sort of t-shirt), and the thing that is not around much at all is my attempts at humour (or at least linking to a large variety of funny things elsewhere... maybe I am not wasting as much time collecting crap from the web now).

Thinking about style of writing and what can be amusing I was reminded that Jeremy Clarkson can be hilarious (and offensive). In the co-op bookshop a while back I found two of his books (collections of columns) remaindered at $5 each. So I bought and read them, highly entertaining indeed (even to this Vegan cycling fanatic). Though he has his own style and years of practice writing often, it was interesting to give some thought to how he uses language and his reputation for loud claims and such to create humour. There are probably things to think about that could be incorporated into writing more often.

Of course as authors say the only way to write is sit down and write, there are no magic shortcuts, everyone can have lots of ideas, however implementing those ideas to turn them into novels is the hard work of writing page after page. I can not say I am really too upset at my low posting count here the past while, not enough to concentrate more on writing here anyway,

Speaking of authors and them writing stuff, I was interested to see the blow up recently in the US about Neil Gaiman's standard appearance fee. His job is to write books, not to do public speaking tours so he has deliberately tried to price himself so high he does not get asked to come and speak everywhere all the time. Makes a lot of sense really, he donated the money to charity and he is still a lot cheaper than really high profile speakers (Bill Clinton is one he mentions as an example).

[/various] link

Mon, 17 May 2010

Chocolate Foot 8 Hour round 2, Nowra - 14:57

Singlespeed podium, Sean, Me, Kent with Joe on the mic (fullsize)
As part of our lead up to the Mawson mtb Marathon, Andrew and I headed down to Nowra to compete in round 2 of Joe and Fi's Chocolate Foot Single Track Mind endurance mtb series. This time it was an 8 hour race on the SCUM course at Nowra.

Many of the mtb-oz crew were there (Dave and Helen, Matt and Sim, Liam, Tyno, Rob, sMarti, Spoonie, Ray, Dreggsy, etc) though none of them were racing solo, oh well Andrew and I were. After my night ride of the course on Saturday I thought it was a little bit boring, however my mind was soon changed once the race began on Sunday morning, the course is a lot of fun once you up the pace and have others around you.

As always I started off a bit harder than I probably should have, with a few laps around 30 minutes (one sub 30 minute lap even), then after my first stop for new drink bottles I slowed down to 33 minute laps for a while, by the end of the day I was stopping most laps for a bottle or similar and was doing 35 to 36 minutes a lap. Andrew caught me around lap 5 and by the end of the race had almost lapped me, he got 15 laps in, I got in 14 lap. On the 10.5km course that was 145KM on the single speed in almost exactly 8 hours (I timed my finish and effort fairly carefully as I was not keen on heading out on a 15th lap (yes I am aware they did not have CORC style rules in place, I did not have to be on track after 8 hours, however I would have felt I should head out if I came in before 8 hours)).

Even though it was the single speed enduro champ round of the series there were not many people there on SS bikes, early on I thought Liam was winning as he passed me, however he was in a team so it turns out I won the category (though only by 13 minutes) which was cool. Fun was had.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 13 May 2010

The Annual May Zombie Post - 18:03
In an effort to ensure I did not skip another year of this tradition I was having a look around for some interesting zombie related stuff, and what do you know, it seems it may not have been by accident that my annual zombie post happens in May. Some other people have suggested May is Zombie Awareness Month.

And I was interested to see some zombie related suggestions about why you should get out and exercise like I do a lot, Zombies hate fast food, of course if we are on the subject of t-shirts, there are some others on this theme, such as this ST:TOS Bones unquote, He's Undead Jim.

And just to tie this in to my diet (and maybe disprove the bad zombie joke from May 2005) there is a vegan bakery in LA that has photos of a rather yummy looking Chocolate Zombie Cake and better yet Brain Cupcakes, maybe Vegan Zombie Cupcakes will take over the world. (neat they have a new book Vegan Cookies Will Invade your cookie Jar).

[/various] link

Wed, 12 May 2010

Yerrabi, taking the Cyclocross bike out for a race - 16:30

Riding through Mulligans
The Sri Chinmoy Yerrabi Multisport race was held on Sunday, another gorgeous day, and for me a great excuse to use the cyclocross bike in a race. (the bike course is fast fire roads and is well suited to a CX bike)

The Yerrabi race is a great multi race, it is short and fast (just over 2 hours for the mens winners most years), no where near as tough as Googong and no swimming (and not as tough as Jindabyne solo obviously). Also being able to do a race in Gungahlin is an interesting change as generally that is not a location we normally think of for any outdoor events (running, road cycling, mountain biking, paddling, etc).

I won the race last year, however I was expecting it to be tougher to win this year, for two main reasons. I have been unable to run since the Aus Rogaine championships due to various knee injuries and with my knee still injured I expected it may not hold up well in the two runs. The second reason was Mark was rocking up to race and I knew he would be pushing me to try and get ahead of him and hold him off if I managed to get there at all.

I did finally manage to pass Mark in the bike leg (he had a faster first run and I did not catch up in the paddle), however did not get much of a gap and he passed me in transition and then held me off in the run easily. We have both been talking about how awesome it would be if we had more of our friends compete in the race next year. The competition and field would be incredible if all the Arnuts rocked up to do the event. Randall, Chris T, Dave B, Alex, Gary R, Gary L, Mark, Nathan, Kim, Ian, Tom, Myself, etc. The womens race could be awesome if more of our friends rocked up too, just imagine the competition if Selina, Susie, Libby, Danielle, Danealle, Heather, Julie and Alina all raced.

I am sure no one who knows me will be surprised to hear I had slow transitions too, Mark commented to me that my transitions that he saw were really slow, maybe Fatty is on to something with suggesting transition training (highly amusing). More photos from the race are on the sri chinmoy site.

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 05 May 2010

ACTRA Paddy Pallin 6 Hour Rogaine - 12:16

Mark and Selina near a Dam (fullsize)
I finally was able to compete at the ACTRA Paddy Pallin 6 Hour Rogaine this year, Lizzie, Haylee and I had a fun day out despite my injured knee forcing us to slow down after the first 1.5 hours or so.

Photos are online at my 2010 ACTRA Paddy Pallin 6 Hour Rogaine page.

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 27 Apr 2010

Getting more mtb time in - 13:53
There is a race through the Flinders ranges on the Mawson Trail in June this year, the Mawson MTB Marathon, though there is an option to do it over 4 days there is a stupid option too. In a team of two do the whole course non stop, 367km on a mountain bike. This is like a 24 hour race with less single track and not looping around the same course (also it should take less than 24 hours).

I was originally keen to try and do the 3 mountain runs on the course also, however I have come around to thinking that trying to do that on top of the non stop ride will be a little bit difficult, which is unfortunate as the mountain tops sound pretty spectacular. I am competing with my friend Andrew, who had a few years without much mountain biking while living in NYC, now he has returned to Canberra he has been back on the mountain bike (a lot, finishing in 8th place at the Australian Solo 24 hour champs over easter shows that off well).

With the 100 km race last weekend then Cotter/Uriarra on Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning road ride and Wednesday night mtb ride at Stromlo last week I wanted to keep the efforts up this week. Doing well so far it seems, Sunday I did the Anzac Day Epic with the normal ADE crew, I rode the Nomad to make it more fun and a little bit tougher than riding a lighter bike, that was 83km on some fun terrain. Then yesterday Andrew and I rode down to Moruya via Hoskinstown, Tallaganda, Majors Creek and Araluen. This is basically a road ride on a mountain bike (fire roads and fairly fast), we completed the 161km ride in 7h11m riding time, which is pretty good, though I was definitely fading in the last 20 km or so.

Today I feel somewhat flat and energy depleted, I definitely did not make it out for Cotter/Uriarra, and probably will have a day off exercise and see what I feel like tomorrow (probably morning road ride at least). Doing a 6 hour Rogaine this coming Sunday, so I should probably try to do a few km on a bike this Saturday. A few friends are competing in the Canberra Tour so cheering them on from the road side may work out alright as part of a ride.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 20 Apr 2010

Australian Marathon MTB Champs 2010 - Nemesis Marathon, Avoca, Victoria - 17:10

Riding the SS in the Nemesis Marathon MTB Race (fullsize)
I went down to the race with Alex and Sam. Heather did awesome and has a Green and Gold jersey to take home from winning womens. I had a surprisingly good race (especially on an SS). Photos are online at my Nemesis MTB Marathon photos page.

Fun was had.

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 07 Apr 2010

2010 Australian Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships - 16:34
The Australian Championships again and a qualifier for the worlds we are holding in October, the Solo 24 Hour race was held at Easter again, this year we had the biggest field ever with 160 entrants heading out for a long time on the bike.

Jason and Jess won again, Dan crashed out and broke a collar bone, Andrew had a fantastic race and finished in 8th overall (though Brett and Ed were in front on single speeds, I think they are somewhat freaky). I took some photos while there and have put them online.

[/mtb/events] link

Australian Rogaine Championships 2010 - 16:29
As it says at the photo link I rocked up to this event to compete with Gary and Chris, unfortunately I fell in a hole on a steep descent toward 37 around midnight, twisting my right knee as I fell. I t hurt a bit and I kept going for another 2 hours until walking along a side slope around 2am I fell over in pain unable to walk any more. I limped into the All Night Cafe (or African National Congress as Gary constantly called it, on a side note I think he was still upset there would be no Cappuccino machine at the all night "CAFE") and had to withdraw from the event.

The link above is to the photos I managed to take while there.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 01 Apr 2010

National Mountain Bike Series, Round 4, Stromlo, Canberra - 16:19
As it says on the page I was able to get away and take photos while marshaling for a while during the XC races. They are online at the link above.

[/mtb/events] link

2010 Jindabyne Multisport Classic photos - 15:43
I finally have put a few photos up from the race this year, I won which was good, it took me 12 hours which was an hour faster than last year. I want to knock another hour off next year (and am fairly sure I can).

I have put the photos online that I have with links to the Sri Chinmoy photos and race report. 2010 Jindabyne Multi Sport Classic photos

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 05 Mar 2010

Oh how I wish we could distill context in text more easily - 15:47
This will be so much more amusing for people who know Mikal and those who know what TSG (where I work) is like.

There seem to be increasing numbers of students on campus playing some weird Zombie game. This year a lot are getting more and more extravagant nerf war accessories to it seems. Anyway not long after Mikal returned to Canberra last year after living in the US for a while he walked into TSG one day exclaiming with shock "There are nerds on campus!".

Though today he is noticing the nerf accessories almost make him want to go shopping for some himself, what with his military hardware fetish, also commenting that there are "dirty dirty nerds" appearing all over campus and suggesting some attempt should be made to out nerd them, maybe with a tux doll canon or something.

[/amusing] link

10 MTB Tips - 11:10
Last year I saw a list of Joss Wheedon's top 10 writing tips and then last week there was a surge of top 10 writers tips with The Guardian publishing quite a few in two articles (Neil offered up his there for example). All of these are full of good information and a lot of it can apply to other disciplines. However looking for something to write about here I am obviously not qualified to offer up writing tips. I thought I would make an effort on some mountain biking tips, as I have been doing a bit more coaching (CORC Junior Program) recently I have been thinking more about some of this stuff.

  1. Relax, this is really a critical element when it comes to any sort of cycling. Recently I heard one of my stretching instructors telling everyone listening that if you look an elite downhiller on a bike they really are relaxed as possible on the bike. The same definitely applies to mountain biking. Hold your position well with core strength but keep your body and notably arms and legs relaxed and loose. You need to control the bike but let the bike flow under you while you can focus on riding. The more tense you are the more energy you waste and the more you may get bounced around by the terrain. The more relaxed you are on the bike the better you can handle surprises in terrain, a rock garden or some other obstacle around a corner that you were not expecting, if you are relaxed on the bike you should flow over terrain more smoothly.

  2. Look up, especially in mountain biking, but also to some extent in all riding you need to be aware of things out around you, the faster you are going the further ahead you should be looking. In a bunch ride on the road or riding in a race or with a group of people through single track do not only focus on the wheel in front of you. Stay aware of things all around you, focus as far as you can up the single track and continually look for lines and terrain details. Sure you can watch the rider in front, if they are a better rider than you seeing what lines they use is a boon. However you also want to be looking ahead and know what is coming up as far ahead as you can. There is no need to look right in front of your bike at the ground and obstacles you are about to ride over, if you have already seen it the brain is really amazing at keeping track of details like that.

  3. Have fun, I think this one may even be in the wrong place, it really should be first, not obviously a skill, however you should try to ensure you love your riding and are having fun doing it. If you are not having fun you will not have the motivation to do it well. Try not to get stuck in a rut, even with a training plan try to ensure when you are on the bike you are enjoying it. The more fun you have riding bikes the more you will want to do it. This is one of the things I get upset about when I see some coaches pushing juniors to ride (often in road coaching) so much they begin to hate the sport. You really want to ensure kids grow up thinking everything about cycling is fun, it will motivate them to stick with it. If you push them so hard and they have no time to have fun both on the bike and in other aspects of life they will not stick with the sport, no matter how talented or gifted they are.

  4. Practice, this is not something you have to go and do separately, however the more you muck around practicing your skills while riding the better those skills will be. When riding muck around, pull hops and jumps over anything and everything. Look for unusual lines and try to nail them, if you are riding along a fire trail don't just sit there and pedal, look around and see if there are things you can do to hone your skills and then do them. The best riders I know or know of all do this when they are out riding. DeathMarch, Morgs, Mal, Shane, Wiggy, Paul Rowney, etc. When you ride with them outside of races they are all pulling wheelies, jumping over things, taking unusual lines, taking alternate tracks, jumping up and down gutters, analysing terrain for lines and trying different and unusual things out. This constant improvement of skills while out riding for the fun of it helps a great deal, you hone your abilities and find new ways of doing things you can use later on.

  5. Fitness helps, I know this sounds like a well duh! sort of statement, however it goes further. The fitter you are the more energy you can spare for your brain to focus on riding and lines and position. When I raced back in the mid 90s as a junior I remember noticing how I slowed down so much after my first lap and kept slowing down. It was as if I no longer had technical skill at times. It sounds boring but if you can get out there and do a lot of km on the road and interval work and other things that improve fitness it will help your mountain biking a lot as you will not be using all your energy just to keep pushing the pedals.

  6. Stay of the brakes and flow, tests on the Sydney Olympic course with the AIS mtb team and more recently with the elite level XC riders back up this, the idea of maintaining flow and staying off the brakes to conserve energy. Hooking up power meters and GPS and HRM and all that to mountain bikers and then getting data from them as they ride around a course. The faster riders often seem to be slower through some sections and yet come out in front. This is largely due to holding their speed, they know what speed they can take into corners and maintain that, they do not sprint between each corner, slam on the brakes, sprint out of it to the next corner and so on. Instead they hold a speed that will get them through the corners and break minimally at all times. The difference in energy used when you focus on cornering well without touching the brakes and have no need to sprint up to speed again is immense. After all using the brakes is just going to slow you down.

  7. Cross train and don't get bored, this ties in to having fun out there exercising and to the fact that fitness helps a lot. I am sure some people can still have fun when only doing one sort of riding and nothing else and still enjoy it. However variety helps a lot I think, try other cycling disciplines (road for fitness, downhill for skills maybe. bmx or 4X for skills and sprints) and even try other sports (I run and kayak and swim a lot too) and if you are not having fun with them maybe try doing them in groups or try other sports that you can find ways to do that you find fun. Weather is not always suited to getting on the bike, so you could go for a run or swim in the rain. Kayaking, swimming and indoor rock climbing use some other part of the body than the legs, also mountain biking does require upper body strength and control so keeping the upper body toned helps. Doing different sports (if you have time) gives you something else to focus on and often makes you keener to get back to the mountain bike.

  8. Race, whatever your cycling discipline you will find racing is different to just heading out for ride. If you race mountain bikes against people faster than you trying to keep up with them is good practice, also you will see them doing things you may not have realised worked or were possible and you can try them out. Also just about everyone will go harder and put more effort into racing than into training. You want to keep up, your competitive spirit kicks in and you push yourself harder. One example I often tell people is that I do a kayak session with friends most weeks, we head out for an hour or so and my HR almost never goes above 135. Through summer I do a 10 km paddling time trial with a local club and my HR average for the whole 50 minutes is over 160. Even when I feel like I am putting in efforts outside of a race I seem to not be going anywhere near as hard as in the race. Also in mountain biking being surrounded by people faster and slower than you helps a great deal in getting used to passing and being passed on single track and in other areas.

  9. Speed confidence and trusting the bike, a lot of this comes from experience, however it is often worth pushing yourself a bit. Generally our bikes can ride somewhere far faster and better than our brains will let us. If you can begin to overcome that and simply let the bike go at speed you often find everything turns out well. The faster you go over rough terrain or rocks the less they will affect you and the quicker you will get past them. When it is muddy or sandy trying to control the bike may cause more problems than simply balancing, holding on and going with the flow of the track, you can still apply pressure and get the tyres to bite where you see the track can help and when you need to, however staying upright and going with the flow helps a great deal. When approaching anything on the trail you really want to try to get in the head space of relaxing and having a go, once you have ridden it you know you can. If you do not try you will never get over it. You may surprise yourself.

  10. Ride lots, another well duh one maybe and everyone is time poor in the modern world, but the more time you spend on the bike out there mountain biking the better you will become. So long as you have the time and are enjoying riding make an effort to get out there lots and your skills will show improvement. This is very similar to some of the writers hints, they say write lots and you will get better, they are on to something there.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 03 Mar 2010

Some comments on a book - 14:53
Back in December I ordered a copy of a book I wanted to read, the shop I ordered it from (local) never managed to get it from the distributors, why I have no idea. Eventually I got sick of waiting and on Friday wandered in to the Co Op Bookshop on campus and bought a copy they had on the shelf. The book is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, I finished reading it last night.

In the past I have avoided really talking much about my dietary choices. I choose to remain a Vegan as I am convinced it reduces the environmental footprint of my diet as much as possible. In the book he uses figures suggesting it is less than 1/7th the environmental footprint of omnivorous diets. I try to put to the back of my mind (as Foer describes it learned forgetfulness) how animals are treated in the modern world to provide the increasing meat craving the world seems to have. Reading the book is a stark reminder of how disgusting and horrible factory farming is, not just for the animals but also for the environment anywhere near factory farms.

In the hope that the book was somewhat US centric and maybe the Australian food industry was not so bad yet I spent around 2 minutes googling and reading and rather quickly learnt that pigs, poultry and to a large extent other meat animals in Australia are factory farmed to a similar extent. Another glaring point he makes is that the increase in waistlines and meat consumption widens the global poverty gap more every year, or more obviously the starving from the obese all around the world.

Foer points out again and again how we have a picture in our heads of farming and animal agriculture where the farmer knows all their stock by sight and farms according to traditional images of farming, this simply is not the case anymore around the world, less than 1% of consumed animal product in the western comes from non factory farming environments (and other parts of the world are trying to play catch up). I do not have the book with me at work just now as I write this so can not refer to it just now but it is definitely a reminder to me that I should be happy with my own dietary choices.

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 01 Mar 2010

A race surprise and helmets - 17:12
So I will be once more competing in the Jindabyne Multisport race as a solo this coming weekend. This is one of my favourite races on the calendar. I competed solo the last two years (2009, 2008) and in teams previously (2007, 2006). So there was a CORC 3 hour mountain bike race on at Sparrow on Saturday afternoon. I thought it would be a good idea to do it and have a last good hit out on the mountain bike before Jindabyne.

For the rest of this week I will not be doing any training efforts over an hour and not much hard stuff, especially later in the week. I have to admit I have been focusing on getting my bike form back to some reasonable level the last few months, maybe something approaching the bike form I had back in 2004 (before I did so much paddling, running and swimming as well as riding). I must say though I never expected this sort of result. At the race on Saturday I finished 10th overall, with 328 people competing, taking into account the teams around 280 people on track. I was racing on my single speed, so I won the single speed category (largely because Chris was having some mechanicals due to being silly enough to make a major change to his bike the day before) and was only beaten by some strong teams and some solos. I was only 1 minute behind Bleeksie and his team mate for example. Riding 8 laps, which it seems only around 20 people managed to complete.

Well I hope that performance helps me on the bike legs, I definitely am hoping to take 30 or 40 minutes off the time for the long bike leg at Jindabyne for the last two years, something closer to 2h30m again would be good.

As for helmets, my good helmet for 2 years now has been a rather neat Giro Animas with hot pink flames. However Giro has discontinued that model and also no longer makes the E2 which was my previous favourite model of helmet. None of the current helmets released by Giro have such a good colour scheme (in my opinion), if I happened to break my current helmet I would have to get something boring. However I have noticed a shop over in the US has Animas in stock still in pink, I am sorely tempted to buy two more (they have them really cheap) so I have a stock pile of helmets just in case. I wonder if this is being silly. When I have some more spare money (new bike just having been purchased on its way here now) I may have to stockpile helmets...

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 24 Feb 2010

More on the google search mechanism - 16:32
An interesting article (I think linked from BoingBoing) today on Wired by Steven Levy. This is about some more insights into how Google refines its search algorithms all the time. A lot of this makes sense, things like improving it so changes are easier to incorporate, there are some interesting insights about research into sentence structure and trying to work out what people searching want (computers are bad at this).

I liked the story about dog and puppy searches and people looking for hot dogs, someone should make a t-shirt, Google: No longer boiling puppies since 2002. Or something. It is also interesting to think they use all incoming searches as some form of testing or control for other tests. The scale of the operation and being able to respond fast is still the most impressive thing about it I think. Also the internal best of search ideas conference and meetings sound like an interesting way to get ideas working. Also everything has to be backed up with results to show it improves things.

On a side note, Kate and Ruth are awesome, listening to their cover of the Dylan song Let Me Die In My Footsteps and I am reminded how good they are together singing.

[/comp] link

Tue, 23 Feb 2010

Ski Everest - 17:10
I was interested to see on kottke today something about a documentary about a guy who skied Mt Everest. Yuichiro Miura is the person in question, the documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest was the first sports film ever to win an Oscar for best documentary. Though he did not ski from the summit he did ski around 2000 metres down one face of it, almost killing himself in the process. The article linked from the first wikipedia link above about the God Father of Extreme skiing is an interesting read.

I was fascinated to see he has since climbed everest another two times at the age of 70 and 75, he hopes to climb to the summit again at 80 in 2013.

[/various] link

Thu, 21 Jan 2010

Midnight Espresso is awesome - 17:39
Tony had been telling me for a while that he was really looking forward to returning to Wellington to go to Midnight Espresso, his favourite cafe in a town which is famous for a good cafe culture, he also hinted I may like it a lot. There does not appear to be a website, however details are on a few review sites.

I am impressed, though not vegetarian only they do have an extensive Vegetarian (and Vegan friendly) menu with some great food. All the cakes they have for sale are Vegan and their coffee is indeed excellent. This cafe is almost worth the trip to Wellington alone. If you are anywhere near Cuba street, or really I think if you are any where near New Zealand pop on over and visit this cafe. Maybe it is because I do not have the variety of Veggie friendly places to eat that is found in Melbourne, or maybe it is because this is a great place to hang out. Anyway with the fun mountain biking and here this week it would be silly not to come and now I know of another good reason to visit Wellington. Thanks Tony.

[/lca] link

Wed, 20 Jan 2010

My notes from the first day of lca (Miniconf day 1) - 22:22
I have written 34 pages of notes (in the a5 conference notebook) in the three days (2 days miniconfs, 1 day main conference) so far, however as my hand writing closely resembles and encryption standard I had better get them transcribed into the computer reasonably soon (before I completely forget how to decipher what I scrawled on paper). So I have just typed up the notes I took (9 a5 pages worth of my hand writing) from the first day of lca (miniconf day 1) and put it here in plain text.

I probably should put them directly up here but am not in the mood to add html formatting to the notes at the moment. Great stuff so far, I will see if I can find time to transcribe another day or two tomorrow.

[/lca] link

Day two lca finishing off with a great ride - 06:57

Skyline ride (fullsize)
I noticed yesterday at the finish of the miniconfs I already have 19 pages of notes written in the a5 conference notebook. I now need to find the time to put some of the notes into the computer I think.

Another great miniconf day, I really enjoyed the Weta digital high density computer room design talk. I have uploaded the photos from the ride I did around Skyline (awesome ride around the ridgelines and hills surrounding Wellington) on a Skyline MTB Ride photos page.

Oops, an update, I mentioned to a few people the gps map of the ride would be online, it is here if you wish to see it.

[/lca] link

Mon, 18 Jan 2010

Awesome New Zealand Food - 15:31

Penguino Ice Cream Cafe (fullsize)
The friend I did my Abel Tasman kayaking trip with has said a few times he could eat himself to death here in New Zealand. I tend to agree the food here is pretty good. Today I had lunch with Stewart, Bdale, Edale, TonyB and others at Midnight Espresso, a cafe recommended by Tony, who went to high school here, he said we would like it. I did it was excellent, lots of great Vegan options including all their cakes. I will be back tomorrow (possibly missing out on variety but OMG it was good.

The photo to the left is from a Penguin themed ice cream cafe in Nelson, they had some excellent Sorbet (an award winning boysenberry and a great apple and berry for example) that I was able to eat too. I thought I should put something penguin themed in a post to the lca tag here. (they have a Penguino Crossing sign too). I hope I can find a few more really good examples of local veggie friendly food before I have to head home on Saturday morning.

[/lca] link

Sun, 17 Jan 2010

In Wellington hanging out for lca. - 16:07

Makara Summit Weather (fullsize)
I am in Wellington, lca is starting tomorrow, I arrived yesterday however the weather was horrible so a hung out with a friend, Bec, who is living here for a few years. We saw the Sherlock Holmes movie which was awesome. Today when I went looking for coffee I ran across Jon Oxer so we headed in for some conference supplies, breakfast, coffee etc (along with Thomas). Then I went to the rego area and found MRD, AJ and others. After registering for the conference we headed out for some lunch.

Then as the weather was better today than yesterday (no heavy horizontal rain) Bec and I went for a mountain bike ride (in the photo above I am somewhat muddy but enjoying the summit of Makara Peak mtb park). Now I am about to go find some lca ghosts, what fun.

[/lca] link

Sun, 10 Jan 2010

Rotorua Summer MTB Series - Bike Vegas - 23:28

Green Lake near Rotorua (fullsize)
Much to my delight I found out when I arrived in Rotorua that there was a mountain bike race on this Sunday. The Bike Vegas Summer MTB Series, this is a series of 45km point to point races through the Whakarewarewa Forest where the legendary redwoods single track are.

The rest of the series are 24th Jan and 14th Feb so I will obviously miss these events, I headed out to race today though and had a great time. I got to catch up with Gaz from NZO Clothing which was good as he was there racing. (and he beat my by a few minutes, way to go Gaz)

My GPS Map for the race shows where the race went, starting going the wrong way up the rock drop track and then onto many others, I can not work out the order exactly (writing this without the GPS trace in front of me right now) but remember it included Pigeon Run, Pig Track Link, Mad If You Dont, Mossy Track, around next to Green Lake (gorgeous/spectacular scenery there), No Brains, the end of Old Chevy (with the fun gap jump), Spring Roll, Sweet & Sour, Be Rude Not To, Lion Trail, Turkish Delight, Soakhole, Grinder, The Dipper, and Tahi.

I had not ridden some of the green tracks since the 2005 Moonride 12 Hour, others I probably would not have ridden if it were not for the race today and some of the tracks are the classics that should be ridden every time you come here. I had a great time and think it was an excellent race format (they had a 25 KM option also for people who did not want quite such a long race).

[/mtb/events] link

Sat, 09 Jan 2010

Rotorua mountain biking - 07:47
I know we have it good in Canberra for mountain bike trails, there are many times I think people who live in Rotorua are even better off though. In the lead up to this year I am having a week and a half of play time in New Zealand before the conference. At the moment I am staying with a friend in Rotorua for a few days and we have been doing some rides the last two days.

For example I put this status update onto Facebook on Thursday night. "a-trail, tickler, frontal lobotomy, billy t, split enz, pondy downhill, pondy new, roller coaster, chop suey, corners, be rude not to, exit trail" which were the tracks I rode in this 47 km ride on Thursday. Oh so much fun to be had on the mountain bike here.

You can see the Rotorua trail map online now days at the Rotorua NZ website which is handy. I bought a copy at a bike shop the other day to get around with too. Yesterday one of the highlights was the track Old Chevy which just goes on seemingly for ever and is as awesome as any of the great tracks here.

Yesterday morning we rode into town for some shopping and on the way back my crank snapped, last time it was the left crank, this time the right crank. So I rode one legged back to the house and we then took the bike into a shop and they are putting some XT cranks on. Jen got a bunch of photos of me riding one legged as she thought it was hilarious.

I thought my riding for the day was over as the bike would take until the next morning to get fixed up (and without all my bike tools I could not just buy the part and do it myself), however the completely awesome guys at KiwiBikes next to Zippys Cafe in town just happened to have an awesome Titus hardtail demo bike they loaned me overnight so I could keep on riding. Awesome guys, great shop, and they hand build some pretty nifty bikes. Anyway some more fun to be had coming up soon.

[/mtb] link

Sydney Christmas - 07:09

Looking back toward Coogee, Bronte, Bondi, etc (fullsize)
I spent Christmas in Sydney with Jane and other extended family (Grandma, Nick, Ashlie, Jude, Chris, Stu, Karin) at a place in Coogee. Though I had a bike with me (single speed) that was for a potential boxing day mtb ride (which I piked on due to rain). As I was so close to the coastal walking path I headed out for a run on it on Christmas morning. South from Coogee until I ran out of obvious walking path (around 4 km I think) and then back up to the other end of Bondi and back down to Coogee. No idea how far it was (maybe 16km) as my Garmin stopped working and I had sent it in for a replacement.

One of the nice things about being there over Christmas was I managed to go for a swim in the ocean every day while there. No serious swim training but it was nice to get into the salt water and do some swimming none the less.

Lots of fun was had with the family, thanks for an awesome time to all of them there.

[/various] link

Bracelet fade - 07:01

Bracelet fade evidence (fullsize)
I commented a while ago that the new NBCF bracelets should last longer as they have a design that is less likely to break. Looks like I was right, the faded almost white bracelet in the photo has been on my wrist for most of 2009, I finally noticed a little before Christmas when I gave a new one to a friend that mine was no longer a good NBCF pink, time to put a new one on, I am not sure I can retire the faded one to my notice board at work as it is not broken.

[/various] link

home, email, rss, rss2.0, atom