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Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Mule....Beauty and the Beast

I first set my eyes on my "Rowley" in Cairo when the geriatric hay burner was munching on some poor chap's dress socks. It soon became evident that "Rowley" was a true character. Apart from being uncomfortable in the middle and dangerous at both ends "Rowley" displayed a unique resemblance to my old school Latin Teacher - Mr Jones. They both knew when you weren't paying attention and usually took advantage of this opportunity.
Being blindsided by a blackboard duster is as equally painful as being bitten on your backside by a Mule, especially if you tie the beast up to a granite rock. "Rowley" is all about comfort and by that I mean whats comfortable for him. With his Pith Helmet and desert issue Boots he certainly isnt in the mood to sacrifice practicality to style.

"Fuji -San" has similar traits to "Rowley"!! She will gladly dump you on the asphalt if you misbehavior. Unlike "Rowley" she is blessed with great looks and is as light as a feather and does not like anything attached to her unless they are part of the riding process...... No Tassels or Bells! Panniers are strictly forbidden however like Rowley a small compass or Garmin is acceptable. She has no problem letting me take her anyway I like as long as the road is smooth and the pace is fast.

"Travel With my Mule" Website

When the first pioneers opened up the great continents of the world they were never alone.Without the roads or highways that we now take so much for granted they made their own trails.They were accompanied by mules that carried all that they needed to survive, as well as the weight of expectation on their broadest of shoulders.
Whether through deserts or over mountains the mule stubbornly resisted the concept of failure and brought their masters home.
As the world has moved on, we have had to adapt to new challenges. My challenge which is mirrored by my twin brother Phil and a small group of individual riders is outlined in our new Website Our aim is to set out on new trails to: Raise awareness in environmental issues Participate in charity fund raising events. Promoting a more healthy lifestyle. The faithful four legged creatures are now replaced by our two wheeled cycles, but we still carry the same weight of expectation.

The website is intended to provide as a focal point for cycling charity events where like minded people will be invited to post blogs or become involved in discussion groups. (The Trading Post) and The Stable

The Blacksmiths Bin where we will record our cumulative ride tallies and monies raised.

Our ultimate aim is to form our own social International cycling team/membership called ‘Travels with my Mule’ to collectively take part in international charity events. Although there will be no costs for membership there will be an opportunity to purchase team cycle shirts in due course depending on level of interest.

Each of our Mules depicted in the Website have their own unique personalities that are reflective of their rider.........see next weeks blog!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Competition - Close Shave

With only 5 days to go until the start of this years MS-150, Phil my twin brother from England and I have been training hard to get in some well needed "saddle time". Growing up a "twin" has always been an adventure, and no more is this adventure more evident than in our respective competitive pursuits.
Whether it was rugby, sailing, or cycling we always pursued that additional "edge"

Two years ago when Phil came over for his first ever MS150 we scoured many biking magazines and articles to get the best advantage we could. We made our bikes as light as possible, tuned them to perfection and then focused our sights on Form, Style and "Personnel Aero Form Dynamics". I am not sure if PAFD is actually a real term but it sounded good and the findings were unanimous......We had to be like the "Tour Boys" and shave our legs and indulge in the mysterious purchase of a manicure and pedicure.

This may sound like a simple endeavour but as things materialized it was a great bonding session normally reserved for stranded shipwreck victims on a Desert Island - "Sharing the same sense of helplessness"

Phil & I were lured into the Spa which with its sweet music and allure of Eastern promise was a poor disguise for its true intent. The petite Vietnamese girls were busily scurrying around mothers and grandmothers who were there for there weekly manicure and pedicures. "Pik Kolar" they said warmly pointing to a large selection of brightly coloured nail varnish bottles. We looked at each other for a second and as if being maneuvered by the same puppet master both shook our heads in unison and laughed. "We don't want any color" we stated, puffing out our chests in our exerted macho bravado. "We are riding this weekend and need to have our hands and feet in good order.......and if possible do you have a lawn mower"?

The first part of the Spa treatment "Manicure & Pedicure" was fantastic!!! For those male readers who have not experienced this well kept secret it is a MUST. They have these great chair that envelope you into a massage like trance as cool waters run over your feet.

The Spa was full. To my left was a 73 Grandmother called "Maryanne" with purple hair, who insisted that we spoke "FOREIGN" ( I guess my cultivated Texas accent is missing a few dralls).........and to my right a 40 something single mum called "Louanne"who was accompanied by her three girls whose names I forget but all had double barrel names ending in "anne" or "sue". There were three other ladies that filled the remaining chairs all busily chatting about, nieces, nephews, shoes, and what stores were having sales.

After our P & M was over we were ushered into two separate rooms for our "shaved leg experience" By now any small talk between myself and the therapist was over and replaced by nervous anticipation. As i laid face down on a raised platform that seemed to resemble a gurney that I had seen so many times in the CSI medical examiners office.

Just when I thought I wasn't nervous I heard a blood curdling scream which had the distinct "voice recognition patterns" as my twin brother. The laughter...... and I mean rapturous deep belly laughter that came from my mouth was short lived as tears swelled from my eyes in response to the searing pain emanating from the back of my legs.
I then heard Phil laughing .......(NOT FUNNY) at my obvious displeasure and thus began the vicious cycle, laugh, cry, laugh, cry which lasted for the next 25 minutes and 53 seconds. As we finally left the confines of our respective dungeons, a deathly silence fell around the Spa, as Phil and I like two "slaughtered lambs" effected our escape as the purple haired lady acknowledged our heroic acts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Last week of Serious Training

Team Members, here's a few Rides to consider this weekend? Dave Hill, myself and my twin bro will be riding them all.

Thursday evening from 5:00pm till Dark - Memorial Park "Circuit"
Friday @ 0800 Zube Park - 40 Miles
Saturday "Katy Ram Challenge"
Sunday @ 0800 Zube Park
If you are going to make it leave a comment or contact Dave or myself

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Swanee a song made famous by Al Jolson is now my official "get up and go song" as the Swan River here in Perth has revived my marvel at natures beauty and how a well developed and organised city can make a difference in keeping its people happy. You ROCK Perth !!!! Perth is a mixture of Boston, San Francisco, Cape Cod and Napa Valley, with inhabitants who are just amazingly friendly. One challenge this morning was coming across an organised run. As I was merrily pedaling along I passed a lone runner coming my direction with a number proudly worn on the front of his shirt. If he was the "fox" then there were over a thousand hounds right behind him munching on his heels. Not wanting to be part of the salivating pursuit I quickly took a detour and found yet another fantastic stretch of water along the Canning River, an off shoot of the main Swan River.
I might not have my usual Buddies in Dave & Andy to drive the pace, but heck, who would want to charge along at 25 mph and miss all the fantastic vista's. Apart from the conspicuous Swans, enjoying the river I saw a number of nest that look like they were the home of a small elephant or terodactyl. I am told these are sea eagles who are rumoured to carry away small calf's or even an odd poodle. Off again this afternoon after my I pod is charged up.

Calm Before the Storm

Port Hedland (Western Australia)
After Spending a week in a town that was not included in one of the "breath taking" wide shot, back drops from the new Film Epic "Australia" I am glad to report I have escaped.
Port Hedland is essentially a huge Iron Ore Facility in the middle of nowhere. Because of this little luxuries are scarce and that includes accommodation which is a premium.
Because of this a recent addition to Port Hedlands Hotel opportunities materialized as the accommodations grew short it was decided to turn the towns detention center into a Hotel....mmmmm Motel.....mmmm Camp!! Although most of the razor wire had been removed the ambiance was quite reminiscent of something Al Capone saw at Alcatraz.

I have now reached the civilized city of Perth. Right now Perth could actually be Cleveland or Coventry, Siberia our outer Mongolia, it doesn't make any difference because I have escaped!!!!
Hilton Hotel, Crisp White Sheets & shower that actually resembles the purpose for which it was designed.

The time is clicking now with only two weeks to go until the MS 150 there is no other place I would rather be to embrace the CALM before the storm. Perth is a "Bike Friendly" City and the routes and scenery breathtaking. I borrowed a bike today from a Perth work colleague who lives in a a suburb about 12 miles North of the city. I headed west to the coast and a beautiful Indian Ocean.
There was a healthy sea breeze blowing but it didn't phase me because the scenery was fantastic. I headed south to Freemantle and then East to Perth and the Swan River. Half way along the Southern part of the River is a Hobie Cat rental business where I had a two hour pit stop to cool off and sail backwards and forwards across the River.............BLISS!!!!!

After the sail I jumped on the bike (Bit sandy, soggy and burnt) and cycled for another 10 miles around the river and back to the hotel. Going to push it hard again tomorrow and with a better appreciation for the route I am looking forward to a great Sunday on the road.