Monday, April 6, 2009

General catchup

It's been a while & although there are no momentous occurrences, a few little things have happened over the last couple of months. Working as the Melter Relief Supervisor over summer meant a rather mixed up shift roster over the months when the other supervisors (understandably) like to take leave. Consequently, I took a few breaks when I could get them.

First up at the end of January was the best part of a week down in Palmerston North for Liz Gray's wedding. Going down to Palmy for five or six days when everyone else has gone back to work was a bit of a stuff up - there was very little to do. I took my bike down, of course, to try & start a little training in for Karapoti (early March) - one decent ride up to the windmills (the big ones) through Ashhurst, a ride down memory lane (really the Bridle Path beside the river - a much ridden path while I was at university) & a ride in to town. I also managed to get hooked on Scrubs & watched the first two seasons (& I probably read a book too).The wedding at Wharerata at Massey on Friday afternoon was great (got to meet Nigel [the groom] for the first time) - for Palmerston North, it was insanely hot in the late afternoon. A nice small service in the garden, caught up with a few people I hadn't seen in a while & even managed some photos (my camera has been well rested so far this year).
Somewhere around this time (just after Waitangi weekend - it's easy to remember when one checks the riding diary), I got a letter in the post telling me that my application for UK citizenship had been accepted. I was strangely, for me anyway, excited about this - it turned up earlier than expected & meant that I could start planning a move to the UK & a holiday in the States on the way. I also had to go down to Wellington for the citizenship ceremony at the High Commission - this I was able to tie in nicely with my trip down for Karapoti. So after said trip at the start of March, I officially became a Brit - now I just have to learn to drink warm beer, wear socks with sandles & complain about everything - especially the weather. Unfortunately I didn't beat my Karapoti time (which isn't particularly flash), which I was quite disappointed by.

I think I had three nights down in Wellington - stayed with Elizabeth & Nigel in their quite interesting house. Apparently it was the Yugoslav Embassy (I think an official residence is more likely) & it's a big old house that is held by the Public Trust on behalf of Yugoslavia (in case the country ever returns!). I saw Mum briefly as she came up for the ceremony - always good to catch up. Unfortunately, it rained quite heavily on Friday night before the race & it was still drizzling on Saturday morning. Not long before the start I realised that I had managed to leave both of my spare pumps at home - a sure sign that I would get a puncture. About ten minutes before the race was due to start I finally found tent that was selling bike stuff - however, they were almost as disorganised as I was & hadn't unpacked anything yet. We spent another five minutes unpacking all the boxes (that were labelled very vaguely) trying to find the pumps. After the gloves, bottle cages, shock pumps, saddle bags, gloves, bottles & every other imaginable bicycle accessory we finally found the pumps - saved!

The race started off in a drizzle & was the normal fast gravel to start with. Half way up the warm up climb there was a small descent across a small stream & up again - there must have been a decent rock coming out of it & I was glad no to be joining the many on the side of the track repairing punctures. Unfortunately quite a few minutes later I was on the side of a climb changing a tube in the rain. Just as well I had a pump - pity it was a piece of junk & took ages to inflate my tyre anywhere close to where it should have been. Back riding, but taking it easy & trying no to get a snake bite. Survived the first proper climb & congregated with a lot of riders at a clearing at the top of the Rockgarden to do some maintenance (much lube going on etc) & managed to borrow a really nice little pump & get my rear tyre up to a good pressure. About that time some one came running back up to the track to where we were to tell the first aiders that some guy had fallen off & broken his arm. We had to take it pretty easy & there was so many riders that weren't keen on breaking ourselves that we formed a procession walking down the Rockgarden - not nearly as much fun, but it was slippery & we survived in one piece. Survived more pushing to the top of the Devil's Staircase & really enjoyed the nice long down hill - pity I punctured again. This time I was replacing my tube with three others & ended gifting my holed tubes to another guy whose weren't repairable. Easily made it up the last hill (had helped that I had had two big breaks repairing flats!) & had a quick ride out down the gravel road with some other rider & almost got swept down the river just before the finish.

Was glad to finish, & I figure the forty minutes extra was down to the two slow puncture repairs & all the extra mud & traffic. Altogether I was happy with how I rode & wasn't feeling too tired at the end - but most of all happy to survive the rain & mud without breaking myself. It was also a bonus that I got the rental car out of the paddock without getting stuck or damaged. Wonderful to get back to another fantastic Elizabeth-cooked meal.

No big riding trips since then - many laps of Puni & Hunua on the singlespeed & I think a couple of trips to Woodhill have been the extent of it. In a swallowing-one's-pride move I have started swimming lessons - I finally decided not being able to swim to save one's self was not really good enough & I should at least give learning to survive in water without a life jacket another a go. So far, kicking in the water is ridiculously tiring - it is so much easier to ride a bike for a few hours than kick a few lengths of the pool!

In the last two weekends I have done more tramping than riding - it's starting to weird me out a bit. (As an aside, I did manage to see Tendulkar score a test century at Hamilton - which was a lot more satisfying than our batting). Last week it was up Mt Pirongia - everyone kept telling me it would be muddy, but thankfully it wasn't (just as well for Jane, as she left her boots behind). First up it was a 500m climb to a trip which took about forty minutes.From here there was only about 200m in altitude to the summit. But of course, it was a typical ridge track - must have been seven or eight descents followed by ascents. But we made good time & got to the summit in two & a half hours. Pretty good views, but a bit too much cloud encroaching from the horizons to give clear vistas. We decided to carry on to the small hut (six bunks) for lunch. The hut has only been there since 1980 (put up as day trampers kept getting lost & caught out - something we weren't planning on doing, especially as I was only carrying my Camelbak) - but surpisingly had a stocked refrigerator (which we assume was for the builders of the new track that started from the hut & went down the south side of Pirongia).Going down wasn't a whole lot faster, but we did stop to climb a rocky outcrop (Adele would be proud). A great day's walk - pleased to be back at the car six hours after we left - not so pleased to get home in time to see the Warriors get beaten by the Broncons & lose more players to injuries at the start of the season. This weekend just gone was the annual walk to Homunga Bay from Waihi Beach - a pleasant stroll on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon; best of all I stayed with Dave & Rosey & Evah, did not too much, slept in & finished the new Jack Reacher.

Other titbits - I haven't worked a twelve hour shift in ten days & should not have to do any more, my new British passport has turned up (only three weeks - quite impressed) & it's time for Conchords...

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