Grace vs Universe

I fell off my bike on Wednesday.

Sometimes the universe gets a bit fed up with my current lack of effort in terms of becoming more ert – instead of cycling home, I’d been really lazy and put the bike on the ferry so I just had a 5 minute cycle to the front door.

It was one of those moments where you’re tootling along, all’s well with the world la la la, then all of a sudden life leaps up and slaps you round the face with a wet haddock.

I’m last off the ferry and clamber onto my beloved Avanti to cycle down the long jetty to the shore.  Not paying attention, life veered off into one of those bizarre Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon slo-mo action sequences:

Scene 1:  oops handlebars got a bit close to the rail there whew got away with it nearly had an accident oh crap the pedal’s hit the railing this isn’t going to end well

Scene 2:  oh no this can’t be happening I’m actually going to fall off my bike only 5 year olds fall off their bikes this is so undignified I hope I don’t break my nose again am I going to die this is so embarrassing I hope nobody sees this oh bugger

Scene 3: thud scrape bang – leading lady inelegantly hits the ground sideways in a tangled heap of bike and backpack.

I rush to stand up and see if anyone’s noticed.  Nope.  Quickly put Harry Potter magic dignity cloak back on.

The bike is fine and everything seems to be working ok except for pinkie on left hand which feels numb. OMG NERVE DAMAGE.  And it HURTS.  And there’s BLOOD (a tiny little bit). OWWWWW.

It was, like, a LOT worse on Wednesday…

Once I’ve picked myself up and got back on my bike I feel a bit shaky and teary but tell myself that I’ve had a bit of a fright but I’ve been VERY BRAVE.  I wobble off home to a glass of wine and  an exciting story to tell Neil.

Universe 1, Grace 0.


The Oaks Trail – Cycling in the Blue Mountains

This was my first time back on the bike since the Canberra Mount Ainslie mega-huff at Easter.

The Oaks Trail is a 28km fire trail ride down through the Blue Mountains from Woodford to Glenbrook.   The first time I cycled this 3 years ago, Neil had advertised it as ’28km straight downhill’.  ‘ That sounds like my sort of day out’ I thought.

28km to go

He lied was economical with the truth.

There was rather a lot of up involved which he’d failed to mention.  I wasn’t fit at the time so this meant getting off and pushing up some very steep hills.  It was also very warm and we’d started in the middle of the day, so I was disgustingly hot and sweaty, plus we had  no food or water.

You hear about mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun but there’s never a word mentioned about the daft Scots who’re out there without even a jammy piece or a tin of Irn Bru.  A bit of downhill at the start....

Once the hilly bits were out of the way, the sweaty misery was forgotten during the magnificent final ride down the trail – the downhill just went on and on for aaaggeeessss.  Brilliant fun.  But that just takes you to the end of the park.  The next bit is just as good – about 5km of really narrow track through dense bush where you could probably kill yourself without trying very hard (cycling into trees/going over the handlebars/bitten by enraged, squashed snake etc etc).

Once this has been negotiated, the final part of the descent is on the road – the cycle trail’s still there but it’s too hairy even for Neil – and a splash through the ford at the bottom.

Then I realised I was at the foot of a cliff face.

Ok, where’s Neil because I was really going to kill him this time.

It was a long, long bike push up to the top – there was no way I could cycle it – it’s vertical.  Neil of course didn’t even get off.   It reminded me of the TV program about a pair of arctic explorers and how they have a gun in case of polar bears. The man in front is always the one who carries the gun because the poor sod trailing along behind him would happily shoot him to end the agony.  I knew what he meant.

The swift application of tea and buns in Glenbrook helped.

Well, that was 3 years ago and it’s now one of my favourite rides.  The second time I did it I managed to get up the cliff face without stopping, which was amazing.  This time I wasn’t so fit so there was a bit of pushing but it was fine.  I know I can do it if I put some more effort into getting fit again.

Had a great beef and burgundy pie in Glenbrook (well worth the effort to get back up the hill).  Did some calf stretches for my foot while waiting for the train back up to Woodford.

Great to get out of Sydney – such a beautiful day – clear blue skies and views forever.   Good to be alive.

From Tent to Georges V in 25 Years (if I’m lucky)

Went down the Great Ocean Road today to revisit the 12 Apostles.  Last saw them 12 years ago and things have changed a bit ie a visitors’ centre and millions of people.   Instead we went off and found Moonlight Head and Wreck Beach.  They were both great – the beach had 366 steps to get back up (I counted).  The sea was fantastic – blue/green with pounding white waves so we sat on the sand and watched it for a while.

Not sure how I’ve allowed this to happen again but we’re staying in a really crappy motel  in Laver’s Hill.  In Australia, it’s taken me years to coax Neil out of the tent (‘but it’s cheap’ he wailed) and up to the Golden Chain Motels level of ordinariness via countless dregsville dumps.

Can’t help thinking of Kathryn staying in Canberra in her ‘usual room’ at the Hyatt with the marble bathroom and I’m in the middle of nowhere in a prefab hut being overpowered by noxious air freshner and the noise from a generator outside going non-stop for the refrigerators at the drive-thru bottle shop.

Had a bit of a breakthrough last year in France after Neil realised that his el cheapo Formule 1 room in Toulouse didn’t have an ensuite and someone had peed all over the seat of the shared loo. I pointed out that for not much more we could upgrade to an Ibis where this problem wouldn’t exist. After a lot of humming and hawing, I got my way and Ibis excelled themselves that first night – an enormous room, huge TV, 5th floor, minibar, right on the main street with a balcony and those pretty French louvre shutters.

The next day we went off to cycle the Canal du Midi returning to the same Ibis a week later.  Unfortunately this time they put us in a very small room that didn’t have a window – there was a window-shaped opening onto some sort of air shaft but it wasn’t actually a window (the French excel at this sort of thing). But a precedent had been set.  I’ve now got him up to Logis de France (2 star decent small French hotels) when there is no Ibis available.  No more Formule 1 thank God.

I’m never going to get to stay at the Georges V at this rate though.

Next part of the strategy, (advance prep for the Georges V) is to get Neil to change his rucksack for a suitcase.

Hoteliers loathe people with rucksacks.  I can see their point.  Especially if they come with a small Scotsman attached who’s loathe to spend any money in their establishment.