Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Great Victorian Bike Ride - Day 3

Euro to Murchison - 68kms.

Perfect riding conditions today and an easy day after yesterday, which we are all grateful for.

The quiet tree lined country roads are so peaceful and you become very attuned to the sounds around you. Because of all the rain all the frogs are out in force and cockies seem to follow you all the way. You feel so relaxed that you forget
what day it is. I was bought back to earth with a customer phone call, but luckily I have my girls looking after Raptup for me and I was able to get them to sort the order out.

There is a great camaraderie about being on the rode in such a large group. The constant "passing on your right" or just "onya right" which I naively thought they were asking me if I was alright. Although we were passed a lot we also got to use those terms as well.

There were quite a few school groups and they were often found to be singing or chanting. All of this made for lots of fun.

During the morning we had completed over 200kms, so a photo opportunity was imminent, still approx 400 to go.

Longwood was our morning rest area and we made that easily and quickly. Our lunch break was at the Longleat Winery just outside of Murchison. It was a lovely area to have lunch and there was entertainment provided.

From the lunch break we had only 2 kms to our overnight stay at Murchison. Murchison is in the middle of dairy country and this was very apparent with large painted cows throughout the town. Murchison is also on the Goulburn River which was running strongly and not far from flooding with all the rain.

It was very pleasant ride today, no rain whilst riding but you guessed it more rain overnight.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Great Victorian Bike Ride - Day 2

Day 2 Dookie - Euroa - 84kms

Up early and breakfasted and on the rode by 7.30am. I expected to be a bit sore but all OK. The morning was beautiful, on the cool side but no rain so far. Easy ride to Voilet Town although we were confronted with a head wind.

The pretty little town of Voilet town was our first stop and the community were out in force offering morning tea. I have to admit the raisin toast and a cuppa was very welcoming.

We started to climb quite rapidly and the next 25kms was challenging to say the least, especially as we still had the head wind. I soon learnt to use the gears very effectively. The views were spectacular but the screaming thigh muscles occupied too much of my thoughts to take in the view. All in all though, we took a long time to arrive at our lunch break at Strathbogie but we rode the whole 25km uphill, where a lot of our co riders were walking.

After lunch we had a steep 5kms climb, and then a 24kms downhill to Euroa. The downhill was great but quite scary in parts. There were a couple of hairpin bends that weren't easy to negotiate when you are travelling at a speed. There were lots of injuries on this leg, and lots of walking wounded hobbling around the campsite later.
Luckily nobody from our group had any tumbles.

Euroa is a pretty little town and our camp site was on the oval. Because of all the rain and the high river though, we had to be accommodated in two different sections.

After our evening meal we settled in for the evening entertainment which was just wonderful. This evening it was Stephen McEwan and the Yes Men and they were great.

All lights out by 10.30pm though, as we all need out beauty sleep for the next day.

And can you believe it more rain through the night.

Sales over Christmas time

Having an online store has meant that I have a really amazing opportunity to attend gift fairs and I loved having my shop in town. But, 21 years is a long time in retail. The freedom I have now has really allowed me to build my business in a different way. Rapt Up has always been my 'baby' and I love seeing it develop now at a new level.

The one thing I do miss is the Christmas Sales. I do have a sale online, but I guess what I miss is the atmosphere. However, I do love the free time to cycle.....

It's funny that the Christmas sales are beginning earlier and earlier. Can you imagine the Boxing Day Sales? Maybe I'm showing my age, but I do remember when stores would only be open certain hours and closed weekends. Now, with the amazing technology that keeps evolving, we can literally shop 24/7.

It's rather a privilege to have the luxury of shopping all day or night. I must admit, after I finish 'work', I do sit and have a browse online. I love the cycling shop Wiggle. This is part of the reason really that I decided to operate Rapt Up fully online.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride - Day 1

Day 1 Yarrawonga to Dookie - 71 km.

We were up very early and packing up our tents and gear. The Yarrawonga community had several breakfast options which was great and we all appreciated eating a hearty breakfast before our first days ride.

Our luggage was assigned to transport 5 and it remained with the one transport for the entire ride.

For the first day all riders had to start at 9.00am, but all other days you can be on the rode between 6.30am and 9.00am.

The start was great, a sea of riders. It was a bit chaotic at first with so many on the rode at once, but it soon started to spread out as the faster riders sped off. The riding conditions were perfect for the first day, light wind and a bit overcast. The countryside was so green and lush after having so much rain over the past few weeks. It was an easy ride and with only one significant incline before we reached out lunch stop at the Tungamah weir. The significant incline was named Cooper's Hill, and as I was a Cooper, and the fact that Dad had passed away recently, it was a perfect photo opportunity. It was a lovely spot to stop for lunch and the break was well earned.

Back on the road after lunch, smooth riding through small quaint country town like St James and Devenish. As the kilometres passed by the rain clouds started to build and our last half our of riding was in showers, before we arrived at Dookie Agricultural College.

Our forward party ( our fast road bike boys ) already had the tents up, so for us it was just a matter of having a hot shower and then lining up for our evening meal.

The weather continued to deteriorate during the evening when the heavens really opened up and reduced the paddock to a quagmire. Everyone remained cheerful though, we were all in the same boat so no point complaining. It continued to rain all night, thank heavens our tent didn't leak but it cleared and the start the next morning was sunny.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Family Christmas Traditions

I am a little late this year with decorating the house for Christmas due to the bike ride. It was too early before the ride to do it, so at the weekend all the boxes came out, the tree was found and over the weekend the house was transformed.

I love the festive season and I am a real sentimentalist. Our tree isn't the designer tree that you might expect from a shop owner with the resources of choosing all the latest Christmas decorations.

From the time the children were babies, I have included a Christmas decoration in their stocking to be added to the tree. The decorations are named and dated and at some point will be returned to them to use on their own trees. So it is a sentimental tree and when I decorate it, it brings back memories of past Christmas's, and I just love it. I decided to use a different tree this year, gold glittering one in place of our traditional green one, and I decorated it with dragonfly lights instead of traditional Christmas lights... they look really cute.

My other Christmas passion is Santa's. I have been collecting them for over 30 years. Many of them are collectible but others bought just because Santa had a kind face. It's become a bit of a joke amongst the kids as there is always an extra one added, and my reply is always " You can always fit in just one more".

We always celebrate Christmas with my sister and her family and can't imagine never doing so. For the past few years, as Dad's health deteriorated they have come to Mildura, instead of us alternately going to Melbourne. They will be here this year and it will be a sad one without our dear Dad.

Of course as the children have grown and now have partners, the dynamics change again. This year our eldest and his fiancee are not here. They will celebrate Christmas with Crystal's family as they were with us last Christmas.

We always have the tradition hot meal for lunch and we always have seafood for Christmas Eve.

So the pudding is made. The stockings are hung, presents wrapped. I am ready except for some last minute Christmas baking

Let the festive season begin.

Friday, December 10, 2010

At Last the RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride

WOW!! What a week I have had on the RACV Great Victorian Bike. It would have to be one of the best weeks in my life. Aptly named " A week in another world " it was certainly that. From the moment you climb on your bike, you forget everything else that is going on in the world (even a change of state government) that we were blissfully unaware of for a few days.

Bicycle Victoria in conjunction with the major sponsor RACV, need congratulating for conducting such a wonderful event. The logistics of moving close to 5000 people everyday was absolutely amazing.

Each campsite had semitrailers of showers and toilets. Huge canvas marquees were set up for eating and entertainment, and over 15,000 meals were served everyday. The evening meal was always a hot meal and considering the weather it was incredible how it all ran so smoothly.

Approx 650 volunteers were on hand to ensure all bike riders had a fun and safe ride. From serving food, driving luggage transports to directing traffic and a 101 other different tasks. They were always cheerful and for the 9 days I didn't hear one cross word anywhere. Just plenty of cheerful banter and laughing.

7pm each night there was a briefing on the next days ride in Cafe de Canvas. The Good Oil newspaper was delivered to us all prior the the briefing. The newspaper was great, filled with useful information for the next day's ride, meal menu's, weather reports ( more rain ) and fun stories heard along the route. We all eagerly looked for it each evening.

I was one of a group of 8 riders from Mildura associated with Peter Mills Body Business gym. We travelled together to Yarrawonga on Friday and did the precamping option on an oval at Yarrawonga. Might I say that night was one of our only dry nights. We had a great group, four of the men were on road bikes and rest of us were on mountain bikes. We named the road bike boys the forward party as they were at the destination way ahead of us. They would have the tents all set up and our luggage found, which was great as we often arrived in rain. We had a lot of laughs and I am sure that we have all created a bond from riding the Great Vic together.

The timing for me doing the ride wasn't the best, having to leave my online gift shop business RaptUp at such a busy time of the year. The shop was left in very capable hands though, with Vanessa and Nicky attending to all the day to day orders etc. I am very lucky to have them as it means I can do my outside activities without worrying about the shop.

Over the next few weeks, follow my progress as I relate to you the fun and frivolity of 9 days on the road.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The ride continues...but here's a little something I prepared earlier

With all of this rain lately, the rivers are flowing and I do hear the fish are also coming back. Apparently, now is a great time to try your hand at fishing. Some friends went fishing the other day and the river looked amazing.

I'm not a big fisher myself, but I love the atmosphere of being down by the water and the peace and quiet. Diesel loves a swim to cool down, although this year summer is not quite here yet. All of this rain is a blessing but also a disaster for many people on the land. The wheat farmers & fresh fruit producers have what appears to be a great season only to be hampered by the wet conditions. I hope with the windy conditions and keeping the vines trimmed and thinned out, the air will dry out the vines and prevent things like downy mildew. It's the humidity that is so harmful.

My thoughts are with everyone and I will look forward to seeing the lush green country side of Mildura (that's if I haven't seen enough of course whilst riding 500 + kms!)