Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh - the pressure.

All this time I thought it was just Mum that read my ramblings here & they served no other purpose than recording for posterity how I pass some of my time. After being told more often than usual over the last fortnight that my blog would be read, there is a little pressure to come up with some interesting tales. Alas, you will be disappointed - I've just checked iPhoto & I haven't taken any photos since the Queen Charlotte; therefore I can't have done too much in the last seven weeks! Since that wonderful Easter weekend I also haven't done a single twelve-hour shift, which has greatly improved my sleeping habits (& if I'm lucky, stopped my forehead growing up).

Of note, was Luke & Naomi's wedding in Rotorua on a very gloomy ANZAC day. Also, ventured out in the afternoon with Roger & Andrew to watch the singlespeed nationals. It hardly rained at all & had Roger & I wishing that we were more organised & had actually entered. Near the end of the race, we ventured out to check out the course - Yellow Brick Road, gravel road, Pondy New, Rollercoaster tail & most of Old Chevy was a very nice ride. Of course it would have been hard work for me after three laps on a singlespeed, but the trails were in very nice condition. As was to be expected there were some great costumes - my favourite was a guy riding with an ODT satchel on his handlebars, a supersoaker, blood stained trousers, a colourful knitted jersey who protested his innocence when you called out to him. Possibly very bad taste, but I thought it was pretty funny. The shortcut was also amusing as to be allowed through it, the competitors had to skull a can of the sponsor's product (The Pride of the South) or eat a dry Weet-Bix. One wasn't allowed to opt for four cans of beer, as that would make it rather hazardous riding (don't drink & ride). Coincidentally, met up with a couple of QC riders from two weeks before.

Strangely for me, I managed a couple of great rides at Woodhill (strange for the number, not the quality & enjoyment of the rides) - one was in the dry when the sand was slow, but fun for the unpredictability; the other the day after heavy rain - always good to have the sand stuck together. The other notable ride was the 24 hour Moonride again in the Redwoods. This was the third in year in a row I had done the 24 (nothing compared to most of my team mates) - & the second year in a row that it rained heavily for fair chunks of the Friday. Thankfully, it stopped raining by the time we put the tent & set up camp. For the first time in three years, I didn't ride first & missed the extra kilometre or two of tarseal. Unfortunately, the track was the same as last year, but with a lot less water & mud. I found the track pretty boring and it didn't have any decent hills (up or down). After running out of fuel on the second lap of my first double (we did doubles for about the first twelve hours), I made sure I ate heaps - we were well catered for, thanks Libby. To break the boredom up, I did a double on the Peace - it was pretty cruisy, unfortunately it was geared too high, so I was spinning on the gravel roads. Caught up with plenty more Hawkes Bay mates from the QC, did another lap on my singlespeed & then managed to break a small, simple, but important suspension linkage (the dogbone) on the i-Drive. Annoyingly, it happened right at the start of my lap - but pleasingly, I could still ride my bike - albeit with the bottom bracket now free to float around & crash in to the swingarm when I went over a bump. I had the pleasure & pressure of riding the last lap for our team. I rode on Micheal's Santa Cruz - much more XC oriented than my bike. I took it pretty easy & managed not to become closely acquainted with the Rotorua dirt (c.f. last year where I lost count of how many times I fell in to the mud) & crossed the timing mat for the last time with ten or so minutes to spare.

The reason I haven't been doing too much riding or travelling around is that I've spent the last few weeks packing up my NZ life & saying goodbye to many & trying to organise bits of a holiday in the States & then living in Britain. Last week I resigned from NZ Steel & next week I leave these fair shores. The basic plan is two months in the States staying with friends (one month in San Diego & one month in Phialdelphia) & taking small trips around bits of what is a rather large country. I plan a road trip up to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas & maybe riding in Moab and also five to seven days in each of New York City & Washington DC. I arrive in London at the start of August & hope to get up to Edinburgh for the festival during the latter half of August. After that, I will probably be almost broke & will start the (likely to be difficult) job of finding gainful employment. Needless to say I'm getting pretty excited.

So the last few weeks have been full of packing, giving things away, persuading people to store things, changing addresses, cancelling accounts & other necessary but tedious tasks. On the bright side, it has been a wonderful excuse to catch up with a lot of people & share some fantastic meals. However, I realised today that it was almost three weeks since I'd done any riding & all that food intake was catching up with me (the days of dreaming of reaching 50 kg are well over) - I dragged my first mountain bike of my parents' garage (I am now down in Oamaru & Timaru spending my last days in NZ with Mum, Dad & Adele) & went for a short ride in the bitter cold. How I ever managed with a rigid frame that was too big for me is a mystery - also the skinny knobblies, cantilever brakes & cheap grip-shift were a reminder of how much I enjoy my softtail (even the singlespeed is nicer to ride!).

Wednesday night was the first night that I spent in the house that Adele & I bought together at the end of February. Although the bed wasn't conducive to the best night's sleep, it was good to finally stay there - even if I did get all sorts of landlord-esque jobs. Below are a few photos (thanks Adele) as I'm sure all this text is getting rather tedious. Wonderfully, as I found out in the foggy winter, the house has new carpet in the living areas, new double glazing, a heat pump & underfloor heating in the bathroom (that is now turned on). Adele loves it & I won't spend all my savings overseas.
One can almost see the sea-view in this view from the living area.

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