Sunday, December 28, 2008

Aussie Christmas

Usually Christmas brings to mind images of snowy fields, hot chocolate by a cozy fire, and well... winter. But not this year! It was warm, sunny and felt much more like the middle of summer than winter, but thats because it is! I had an Aussie Christmas with Andrew and his family. Just like at home, there was lots of fun, lots of food, lots of laughs, and a big mess after the presents were open. Oh what fun!

The whole crew

Andrew and Mic

Absolutely delicious!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hornsby Aquathon

During the race season, the Hornsby Triathlon Club has bi weekly aquathons. Its consists of a 500m swim and a 3.8km run. They had a record number of racers this past week (35+ athletes) and with all the friends and family it was quite a spectacle. We raced, then had a BBQ and a special guest showed up!

Sprint racing is exhilarating, but quite hard. I had forgot that once the gun goes off, you just red line it to the finish line. It was fun (and painful) going as fast as you can. It was definitely a 'sprint.'

Andrew set a new PR in the 500m swim in 8:06

Wow that was hard!
What did you think? - Holy crap that hurt! It was great!

Hanging out after the race

That's one huge snag! (that's Aussie for sausage)

Santa made an appearance and had lollies (candy) for all the kids.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Saturday Sprint Tri

The Hills Triathlon Club put on several races this past Saturday. Andrew (my homestay) and I, along with several other athletes from his tri club, raced strong and had a great time. Yee-Foong (Andrew's girlfriend) was out there being an awesome athletic supporter, taking great pictures and cheering us on. There were over 200 people of all ages out to just have a good time.

The races were located in the complex where the rowing was held for the 2000 Olympic games. The course was pretty unique. Since the entire complex was designed and built for the specific purpose of rowing, everything is centered around the lake. The lake itself is a massive rectangle.

Andrew did the Sprint distance and I did the Short Sprint distance (the full Sprint filled up). The races were either 750m or 500m swim then 20km ride and 5k run. It was a hot, windy day and with no protection around the lake, it was rather rough race conditions. I loved it!

Talking pre race strategy. It was something along the lines of tying a rope to some crocs and skiing in behind them.

Coming out of the water in 5th.

Olympic rings in the background means Andrew must be an Olympian

Getting aero as I worked my way up to 2nd

Rocking the drops and making it look easy

Running solid

What a fun race!!!

The Hornsby Triathlon Club. Rockstars!!

Being recognized by the race director as one of two international athletes. I picked up the win for the short sprint, but only after having to run my butt off to catch up to the leader. It hurt so good! I can't wait to do it again :-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fun Filled Day in Sydney

Not wanting to miss a moment of all the exciting possibilities at my finger tips, I hopped on a train to Sydney for the day. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let the photos show you all the cool things I saw.

This pool hung over the bay. Battleships in the background. Freakin sweet!

Walking through the botanical gardens, there were hundreds of giant bats!

These flowers were huge.

Trippy trees

Crazy art work outside of the botanical gardens

Very cool architecture

My swim buddy I met at the Wildlife Adventure

This spider was GIGANTIC!

This python gave me the creeps

This lizard ran up to the window and just stood there looking at me like this.

Very cute. Very lazy.

Just chillin.

uummmm... that's a big bird

Here you go little wombat statue, have a Coke.

They were so fat, stocky, and funny

Still being lazy.

I finished the day by stopping at a Chinese market on my way back to the train station.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Attack of the Birds!

I went for a 5 hour ride north of Sydney and it ended up an adrenaline filled thrill outing! The first part of the ride started off normal. I rode through a quaint little national park. Then hopped onto a local highway where I did a long out and back. That's when it happened!

As I was passing a truck pull out area, something suddenly slammed into the right side of my helmet. Shocked, I yelled out as my head was jerked to the left and my whole body shifted towards the outside of the road. What the hell was that?!?! As I surveyed my surroundings, I realized I had just been swooped by a large Magpie.

I had heard from friends that these birds will swoop and attack when they feel their nest is threatened. I guess I appeared as a threat!

Looking over my shoulder I spotted my pursuing attacker, just a few meters above and behind my head. I shifted into a bigger gear and picked up the pace in an effort to drop it. A few seconds later, to my surprise, SLAM!!! The bird threw its whole body into the side of my helmet again causing the same head and body jerking movements. I cried out in surprise and decided enough was enough. I dropped it into the biggest gear I had and blasted the pedals as hard as I could to reach top speed. I didn't stop the leg burning pedaling for a solid thirty seconds. Looking back, I left the feathered fiend far behind. I kept turning over the gears quickly to ensure that I was indeed out of its swooping range. Down the road I eased up, caught my breath, and couldn't help but laugh. "So that is what everyone has been warning me about!" I thought to myself with a smirk on my face. Satisfied that I had out sprinted my assailant, I realized I would have to ride right back past it on the way home!

The return ride was much different and far more exciting. I was prepared for the dive bombing bird this time. As I approached the section of road where the incident first happened, my senses where heightened. Listening for the flapping of wings, eyes aware of everything in front of me, as well as the shadows below, I proceeded along ready to spring into action. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh! I heard the bird coming! Immediately I ducked, anticipating that it was aiming for my head. Guessing correctly, the bird narrowly missed my lowered head in its failed attempt to pummel me. Faster than a gun slinger from the old west, my finger flicked the shift trigger to drop me into my quickest gear. I exploded into an all out, balls to the wall, adrenaline pumping sprint. I grunted as spittle flew from my mouth and my legs burst into of of the fastest sprints I have ever launched (you would be surprised how much faster you can go when something is chasing you with the intent to harm you!). Head tucked, with a white knuckled grip on the bars, I produced chain snapping amounts of power intending to show that bird who was the fastest. "Come on you son of a @#&$%! Whatcha got!!" I mentally screamed out. I kept my head tucked and looked to the shadows on the ground. A couple hundred meters down the road, I could still see him there. Holy crap! This birds fast! Digging deep, deep down into that well of sheer will power (pun intended) I somehow accelerated even more. Legs screaming to stop, I pushed harder and harder. "This bastard is not gonna catch me!" I thought to myself. I kept up the blistering pace for nearly a minute. Nearing the point of exhaustion, I looked back to see that the bird was finally gone. I did it! I out sprinted a swooping Magpie. I was so proud of myself. I sat up, took a drink, and finished the ride quite content.

Now if someone asks me if I have ever been attacked by a swooping bird, I will smile and say "Oh boy, have I got a story for you!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hanging out in Sydney

The start of my Sydney Adventure was a bit of a bumpy one. We didn't get to the train station till about 7:45 for a 7:55 departure! A quite stop at the ticket booth for directions, sent Abi and I hauling ass across the station. We arrived with plenty of time to spare (I'm being sarcastic). As I loaded my bike on, they shut the door behind me while I was mid sentence saying good bye to Abi (Steven was with the car).

As usual though, it all turned out just fine. This was the overnight service from Melbourne to Sydney, so the passengers were few and far between. But just my luck, a big fat guy who farts, snores, and wheezes in his sleep sat just two seats in front of me. So I ate a bunch of really greasy stuff from the food car so that he wasn't the only one making the other passengers constantly giggling and then covering their noses. Didn't want him to feel singled out :-)

Once I arrived in Sydney, I immediately stored my luggage and started walking around downtown. I unknowingly bumped into a tour bus driver and asked him for directions. He told me to climb aboard his bus (it wasn't a magical one. Bummer) and the Sydney tour began.

Being a goof, as usual, while checking out the opera house from across the bay. When I get a chance I would love to see it up close.

There were about 5 of us who were traveling alone on this tour. We took turns taking each others pictures with our cameras so that not all of our pictures were from arms length away.

I stopped by my mate Russell Crowe's house while I was out and about. We had a few beers, then took my boat out for a spin around the bay. Its so nice to be rich and famous.

I tried to get some sun when we stopped at Boundi Beach. Holy crap am I white! People kept looking away because the glare of the sun off of my pasty white skin was nearly unbearable!

Me and my roo buddy just hanging out, throwing some game at the girls walking by on the wharf. He's the strong silent type.

Now where did I leave my battleship??? Oh yeah! Behind my submarine! Silly me!