Sunday, 24 July 2011

Time Trial - Penultimate Stage 2011 Tour de France

There have been some late nights over the past three weeks sitting up watching TV coverage of the event as the cyclists torture themselves through the 2011 Tour de France.

The last three stages in the Alps have been tremendous, with some heart stopping moments, including some awesome descents, a few crashes and miscues, and some great climbing.

Final stage in the mountains finished at Alpe d'Huez after that monumental climb - 21 hairpin bends to hell!! At that moment a young Frenchman won the stage [ Pierre Rolland] bolting away with Contador vanquished after publicly stating he wanted to win there. Andy Schleck seemed absolutely spent at the finish. And Cadel Evans the hope of Australia finishing not very far behind the stage winner, and looking not spent. Evans was 57 secs behind Andy Schleck in the GC [ General Classification], the new Yellow Jersey wearer.

Many thought it might be be over for Evans again, relegated to a placegetter in the Tour.

What a time trial though. Even bunny hopped a few of the road speed bumps [ isn't that what all mountain bike riders do anyway?], and was immensely smooth all through the ride. Seven seconds behind Tony Martin the time trial stage winner, and a comfortable two minute plus margin over both Schlek brothers - and Cadel is now in the Maillot Jeune as winner - elect for the final stage into Paris.!

The first Australian to win a grand Tour - the Tour de France. Cycling's Everest, probably the most prestigious individual sporting win in the world. Blows away major tennis and golf events, world chess titles, Olympic gold medals and whatever else. WOW! WHAT A WIN!

As an individual event winner, at least matches that Australian win in the America's Cup in 1983, which really was a team and machine win. What a win!

He still has to finish the stage on Sunday, but it is traditional that a clear winner of the Tour is given a gentleman's ride to the finish. Do not forget to watch though.........the sprint up the Champs Elysee is a great sight to watch. Mark Cavendish to win??

[ photo copyright the Australian ]

Watch the follow up summaries coming too........the first on tv on Monday night.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Truth - or Is It??

The truth can be confronting, it can also set you free.

Speculation in the media often canvasses ideas about whether truth is being promulgated. 'Spin reigns', is the cynical view these days among the masses.

Maybe rightly so.

Too many junk media releases to promote the deliverer [aka a politician, media mogul etc], not to promote the information. We almost always suspect politicians are not telling the truth. That seems a bit sad.

Look at events in the UK at the moment.......truth has been a casuality of the events unfolding over the phone hacking scandal. Probably more to come too.

In Australia, with all sides of politics debating.......or promoting, various options over carbon reductions and carbon pricing, what is the truth?

In science maybe there is no absolute truth.......and with climate change the science while clearer, is almost likely to be always an unknown [with some probability limits], especially as data about past climate change events is found, and debated scientifically. Scientists accept this theorem about truth and facts - they can change, and then our views are adjusted, or not, depending on the arguments advanced.

Over historical time, many in the scientific community have had ridicule heaped upon them over theories........later shown to be the now accepted idea. Continental drift, planets including earth around the sun .......there are many in this category.

The op ed piece in todays's Australian newspaper is on truth.

And it comes back to one issue - not everyone has a hidden agenda, even among politicians. The writer makes the point strongly that often there is no hidden agenda or spin. Even politicians may believe that the course of action proposed, the legislation etc is actually the best option.

A well written piece, a bit on the philisophical, even strongly intellectual view, but a view worth revisiting.

We seem sometimes to forgot that people of all persusions may actually believe in issues they are advocating.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Red Trumpet Vine - Pyrostegia venusta

You know it is a good dry season if this plant is in its vibrant flowering glory.

And it is......

The plant is often used as a screen vine on fences and most of the year it is just a green plant. But when it flowers it is spectacular! It seems to flower best in a dry season that has at least some decent cool nights below 20C.

Masses of reddish-orange flowers in large clusters against a dark green foliage makes for a great ostentatious display. Really offers a major statement.

The photos are from a site just around the corner from our house along their fence. Just a short 15m or so. But it is by no means the only one around the area, nor the largest, although it is in a cul de sac, and may not be the most obvious display seen.

I noticed a long fenceline - maybe 30m - the whole front fenceline - on a house block along Bagot Road, a site seen by many thousands of commuters travelling to and from work each day. It is a mass of flowers also. A great feature.

The bright flowers also seem to survive for a few weeks so it is not just a short burst of flowering. The botanical name is Pyrostegia venusta - definitely worth considering for a screen vine in the tropics and sub tropics.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Bikes - the Motorbike Types

It is July, and there is a lot of talk and viewing of bikes.........the pedalling kind.

But lets not forget one of the legendary bikes - Harley Davidson. If you talk of motorbikes, then this is a name most everyone will know, along with maybe Triumph, Norton and the current crop of names being used in motorcycle racing.

Like many large corporations, Harley Davidson has another side, a past set of glory. A fantastic collection of motorbikes that is rarely seen.

No, I do not have any entry passes, and the site is not normally open. I can however, give you a link to a site where there are some great photos of some unusual and legendary motorbikes.

Go here -

Test ride by having a look.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Carbon Pricing or Carbon Fibres?

Mayhem on all fronts.

Australia gets a carbon price and the Tour de France has more nasty crashes.

Opposite poles one might think.

However, the editorial comment by Paul Kelly is a useful commentary, and the cartoon excellent.

I have no doubt that carbon pricing and not carbon fibre frames will be the lead news item this week in Australia.

Read more here -

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Its Official - Tour de France a Sleep Hazard

Following on from my previous post, there is an article in the Australian Financial Review of Friday 8 July on the effect the TDF is having on sleeplessness in Australia.

A tv audience now over 200 000, means a lot of people getting to bed in the early am, and being short of sleep at work, the next day. Not to mention interfering with their own exercise regimes.

Watch out.......still two weeks to go and we have not seen much yet in terms of interesting stages in the mountains.

Vive le tour!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Late Night Biking - from France

It is that time of the year again.

Late evenings, early mornings, tranquil views of the French countryside while about 200 bike riders tear around the dales and glens of France. THE Tour de France.

We now get full tv coverage for most of the day's racing, and it is online as well, as streaming video, for the full day's event.

Must be the greatest tourist coverage available for France - three weeks of cover for many of the regions of France. There are some fantastic scenes, and I am sure it has generated many, many visitors to France over the years.

So far........ Alberto Contador seems to have a dose of bad luck, and his bike throw yesterday was a bit of a classic dummy spit. Cadel Evans has had some good luck, with a well deserved stage win, and Mark Cavendish also won a sprint finish yesterday. Thor Hushovd continues along successfully wearing the GC leader's yellow jersey.

Early days in the event, with much more to come.

The TDF has become a huge event world wide. Even if vaguely interested in cycling, it is almost worth watching as a travelogue, on its own. If interested in cycling.........then at least some viewing is essential.

However, in Australia, that means getting to bed very early in the am, not conducive to a decent days work next day. Nothing beats time-shifting to watch it when you can!