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l'enfer du North Island

  similar sentiment Sunday, 27 July 2008 link

See previous entry, but replace "Mark Cavendish" with "Carlos Sastre". Especially given the some-would-say suspicious incredible improvement in his ability to TT. Mind you, they do say that the maillot jaune pedals itself...

Two fucking punctures in as many days. On Tuesday night, in pouring fucking rain, a third of the way up the gorge - I just swore and walked it home, it's not worth trying to fix a puncture in that much water when you're only 2k from home. Then on the way in Wednesday morning, got a slow puncture from a glass shard. Blasted things. I'm investing in a kevlar rear tyre (I only tend to puncture on the rear); it'll make life that much easier. It was bloody wet Tuesday night though. The rain was coming down as if it had a grudge against the ground. Various storm drains were proving to not be up to the task, meaning that in a few cases I had to walk through reasonably large torrents. About the only thing that cheered me up was that pissed off and pushing the bike uphill at 6kph, I was keeping pace with the somewhat unfit cyclist who passed me without checking if I was OK.

Then again... riding into work Thursday, I saw a large grey/brown thing, about the size of a rugby ball, just sitting in the middle of the footpath. "Ah, a bunch of wadded-up newspaper," I thought to myself, "...but why isn't it being blown away by the gale force winds?" And then I got slightly closer and realised that it was a really, really big rabbit. In the middle of the footpath. In broad daylight. Mad little thing.

My favourite online bike shop, Wiggle, start delivering internationally at the same time as I start making a few extra bob. Coincidence? Or chance to get decent kit at a reasonable price?

  say it with me now Tuesday, 22 July 2008 link

Every night, watching the Tour de France, I say a quiet prayer:

Please, god, don't let Mark Cavendish be doping.

I honestly don't think that the ITV commentary crew - not to mention the entire British cycling media - could take it. Plus, I'd be pretty disappointed.

Had a good ride out on Sunday. A slight scheduling mishap meant that I missed the Weta peloton (they moved the start time and no-one had my mobile number), but I rode the route nonetheless. It was nice cruising through Karori, down to Makara and then back through to J'ville. The recent appalling weather meant that there was a lot of evidence of rain damage - in particular, a number of minor slips. The farmland through there has what is often referred to as "excessive contour", i.e. it's mountain goat territory (and indeed a number of farms do have goats - quite possibly even deliberate ones). This means that it's really vulnerable to lumps dropping off after heavy rains. Not great for the farmers, but pretty dramatic to look at. And there were pukeko wandering around the paddocks with a smug look - that look that says "Ha, I'm a wetland bird and this is my natural habitat, bitches!". Unfortunately some of the pine forest around the Takarau Gorge had been logged since I'd last ridden through. Obviously, this is precisely why the trees were there in the first place, but it was a lot nicer to ride through a mature pine forest than through half forest, half barren tree stumps. Just hope they replant it rather than converting to dairy or something annoying like that.

Reading: Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery - particularly the one revealing the terrible truth about cycle commuting.

Listening to: DeVotchKa. It's one of those moments when you're used to hearing something in one language, hearing it in another causes a bit of cognitive dissonance. They do a very good instrumental version of "Ochi chyornye", but since it was given a translated title ("Dark Eyes") on the CD, I didn't expect it and did a double-take. I recall a similar thing when someone a while back mentioned an international aid organisation, "Doctors Without Borders", and explained what they did... and I replied "Oh, like Medicins Sans Frontieres then?" and immediately felt foolish.

  ripping the legs off Wednesday, 16 July 2008 link

My entry is in. We have the accomodation booked. We have the babysitting booked. I have a time to beat. I'm riding Taupo this year.

My current commuting mileage (kilometrage?) is about 100k, plus lunch rides, and closer to the date I'm probably going to start doing the odd longer Sunday morning effort. Should be able to knock a few minutes off my last time (7'03", putting me about 3/4 of the way down the field of solo riders). Mind you, just not getting stuck in the really slow bunch at the start should help with that, ditto trying not to take as many food stops. Still, I've got 5 months; I'm sure I'll get around to some training at some point. If nothing else, I've started riding out with the Weta lunchtime peloton, so that'll help me get some pace.

There's a bit of an etiquette to riding out with a new bunch.

First, if possible, there's the pre-ride preparation. This typically consists of a series of emails. These are basically psychological in nature. For example:

New rider: I'm pretty average pace, not too fast. I don't want to slow you guys down. What sort of pace is normal?
Established group member: No worries! We're all really unfit! I've only been riding for a little while, and the most exercise I've had in the last six months is lifting crates of beer and icecream out of my car! We typically ride at about 10kph and stop at every corner for a 2-minute coughing break.
New rider: OK then - I think I can probably make that pace.

This is then followed by the ride itself. The new rider turns up at the spot to find a pack of shaven-legged whippets on high-end road bikes. On the ride itself, the existing group will subtly turn the pace up to about 120% of the normal, just to see what the new guy does. The new guy has to staunch it out and try to raise the pace themself. It's not easy, but it's perfectly normal and no evidence of ill intent. It's just a subtle "let's see what you can do" sort of quiet hierarchical thing. On the second ride out, it's normally a bit more relaxed.

We took Rebecca out to see the Weta Cave on Saturday. She's been bugging me to see my workplace ever since I told her that I helped make Jane and the Dragon. So we went out for a family shufti at the Weta museum/gift shop. She enjoyed herself, but found a lot of the stuff a bit scary. High point was probably Richard Taylor popping over and introducing himself; he was pleased that the girls were enjoying the children's play area (a model of the castle from Jane and the Dragon). Nice bloke.

Maggie is nearly walking. As in, she's walking for about five or six steps. On a good run, she gets from one side of the kitchen to the other on her own two feet. It's but a short period of time until she can run around the show after Rebecca. They're getting on very well - we often find them in the same room just laughing at each other. Lovely.

I bought the girls (OK, Rebecca) some more general Lego at the weekend. I got a couple of landscape plates and a big bucket of miscellaneous Lego pieces. She's been enraptured ever since; we've started several days by immediate post-breakfast Lego play sessions.

From the "Why didn't I know about this before?" box: DVD players with USB ports. I knew you could get DVD players that could read data DVDs with DIVX movies on them, I just hadn't realised that you could buy ones that you can plug a USB drive into directly. This has markedly improved our experience of watching this year's Tour de France.

Speaking of this year's Tour... two words. Mark fucking Cavendish. Not sure if Cadel Evans has it in him to win the whole thing, but by gum Mark Cavendish is going well. Two stages so far isn't at all bad. Looks like the heir to Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi isn't an Italian, he's from the Isle of Man. It's particularly fun to watch the TV commentary - the ITV pundits get so happy when Cav wins a stage. And speaking of the pundits, I do really enjoy the coverage provided by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, but it's sometimes hard not to want to play the Tour Commentary drinking game.

And dearie, dearie me. Not only has the Tour de France told the UCI to get stuffed - so have all 17 of the teams in the ProTour. Either the UCI is going to have to pull some serious finger, or they could find that it's not their ball after all and everyone else wants to play on the other side of the playground.

  only a couple more hours Saturday, 5 July 2008 link

So Friday, the day dawned bright and beautiful. The promised truckies' strike meant that everyone had left for work before 7am, so when I dropped the kids off at nursery at 8am the roads were deserted. Cycling to work, I think I saw some tumbleweed on the Old Hutt Road. Clearest run I've ever had. And a beautiful day, too; absolutely lovely, clear as a bell and fine to boot. Spiffing.

At lunch, I rode out with the burgeoning Weta peloton. The weather had suddenly gone to shit: the shining sunshine and calm weather had dissolved to squalls of intense rain and a bastard northerly. Halfway through the ride, I punctured - cue ten minutes at the side of the road frantically swapping tubes. So that's me having used my (one) spare tube. Ah well, as long as I don't puncture on the way home I'll be fine.

At 4:30 I leave work in what I can only describe as driving rain and heavy wind. The weather did not improve. Riding around the waterfront, I achieved that zen state known as "as wet as you can possibly get"; the rain at this point was lashing down with a force comparable to a decent domestic shower cubicle, I could barely see ten feet in front of my face, and I was soaked to the fucking skin. Those of you with a sense of irony are expecting me to say that I then punctured; I did not.

No, it wasn't until ten minutes later, when the rain had fallen off slightly, that I punctured. Lovely. By this point I was around Kaiwharawhara. Here's how to tell when I puncture if you're riding with me: if you see me slow down dramatically, look down at the wheels, and then look up at the heavens and scream "FUCK!" with all my lungs - that's when I've punctured. So I'm standing in Kaiwharawhara, still about 5k from home, soaked to the skin and with no spare tubes, with a puncture. At this point I'm just trying to find some form of shelter so I can assess my options. And as I desperately run towards a boarded up doorway, a bloke pulls in in front of me and gives me a spare tube. He refused any form of payment or reciprocation; "I've had tubes given to me, just give one to someone else sometime." Faith in humanity: restored. Rear wheel: up and running. Home again: jiggity jig. Lovely.

So not the best commute, but it was still a good hard 50k for the day. One thing about riding out with a new bunch is that you can guarantee on the first ride, people will quietly and politely tear the legs off you. I tried my best to keep up with the serious road whippets and didn't do too bad - hard yards though.

The Tour starts tonight. God only knows who's going to win. I'd like to hope that Julian Dean wins a stage; it's the only way that the Tour is going to get near primetime telly over here. Otherwise, my money's on Mark Cavendish: the Manx express is scary-fast. Don't expect any media coverage other than doping scandals, though.

Did you know tumbleweeds are actually native to Ukraine, and were introduced to the US in the 1870s? True!

  and you dress funny Thursday, 3 July 2008 link

For various reasons, I've been reading up on the characteristics of various bits of hi-fi kit. Which is to say, I've been vaguely thinking about getting some speakers or something for the telly. So far, so good. But there's a bit of a problem: if you read any reviews of hi-fi kit, you immediately realise that all the people writing them are either horrible wankers, have terrible taste, or both. Honestly: you get people going "Oh, yah, you should hear it when Satriani gets to the big guitar solo at the end - it really blows you away, yah?" sort of thing. Or "Yes, this amp really coped well with the big fight sequence at the end of Reign of Fire". I find myself thinking, "Do I really want to take direction from people with such poor taste?"

After all, in much the same was as no-one else in the world can drive properly, it is of course a fact that everyone else in the world has, in some way, crap taste in music. And often in movies too. Fools! All of you!

I'm somewhat putting myself through CG boot camp at the moment. This involves absorbing as much info as possible about how CG works and how movies are made. Favourite quote so far is from some of Autodesk's documentation for Maya:

Every day, you come into contact with three-dimensional objects and spaces. You have learned how to recognize and work with three dimensions in your daily routine and have an intuitive feel for how it works.

The Art of Maya

No - really?

Tallpoppy logo

unspoilt by progress

calm, peaceful, sweary

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