Category Archives: double trouble

Great preparations.

With our 5-day (550km) tandem touring trip looming, M. and I have been getting ourselves prepared. (I wonder why I can’t concentrate on TAFE work…I should just ditch all ideas of study or work, and be a full time family holiday and tour coordinator. )

We’ve decided on a route and I’ve booked, so far, 3 out of the 4 night’s accommodation. My dream bike touring getaway would be to be totally spontaneous, but when you’ve got a time frame to work within, and it’s school holidays, then it’s best to be a bit organised. Also, being mid-winter, (albeit NSW, Australia-style) I don’t fancy trundling around in the late afternoon as the temperature plummets looking for a place to stay.

We also threw our ambit claim of 4 nights babysitting at the grandparents, and, I think, managed to persuade them that the girls were old enough to entertain themselves (by catching a train to go shopping) at least one or two days. Phew.

The biggest preparation has involved getting set up for as-light-as-possible luggage. We haven’t done a multi-day tandem ride carrying all our own gear before.  We already had two bike panniers, (aka saddlebags) but M. has bought us new front panniers (and racks).

And then of course, there’s the clothing, because you need to be able to stay dry and warm, but you don’t want to be weighed down excessively.  On and off bike wear to be considered, with winter temps and the possibility of precipitation dictating a few new purchases – like shoe covers, waterproof bike pants, long fingered bike gloves (me – I didn’t have any), and other bits and pieces, as well as lightweight travel pants to be worn at night (to be worn with our polypropolene thermal underwear!)

I would say that, between us, we’ve bought more cycling clothing in the past few years than other new clothes  – probably gives you an insight into the shabby state of our normal wardrobe.  I love new bike gear – it cheers me up in the same way more normal women feel about ‘shopping therapy’- but shopping for it still doesn’t come without angst – for me at any rate.

You know the feeling of dread you get when you try on a new swimming costume/bathing suit? (OK, so not all women will feel it, but many will identify.) Well, that’s how it is with cycling clobber, unless you’re trim, taut and athletically terrific.

I’m not.

I might give off the air of athleticism (and body to match) when I spruik about our bike rides, but sadly I don’t have the figure to match. Something about cycling long distances, and then stuffing my face full of  “energy” to replace that which I’ve outlayed. (You do the maths… especially taking into account the warped logic that has me continuing to eat ‘whatever’ for the next few days, without burning up the calories at the same rate.) And a cycling posture doesn’t exactly work the abs…

Imagine ‘jelly belly’ if you must – you’d be on the right track.

Trying to haul on close fitting lycra in a cycling shop fitting room is an ordeal destined to bring on a bout of depression. Trying to avoid that by online shopping doesn’t help, because the size charts mock me from the computer screen as I disbelievingly circumnavigate my waist and hips with a tape measure, and compare.  And ask – if I’m an L in unisex, or WL or WXL, then heaven help women who are larger than me who want to get into cycling for fitness and weight loss.

Why put myself through this? – you might ask. Why wear the lycra? It’s not to look like a wanker – as many non-cyclists might think.  It’s actually functional, and more comfortable when you’re riding. True story!  I just wonder if they downsize women’s cycling clothing, in particular,  as a disincentive to fat bottomed girls who might dare to ride bicycles – however beautiful Queen might have them. (No wonder the girl on the record cover is barely dressed! They didn’t make bike nix in her size!)

Even trying on not-so-close fitting lightweight travel pants in a shop last weekend left me down and despondent. I found something comfortable – recommended by the shop assistant (who was wearing a pair at least 3 sizes smaller than fitted me). It was the least unflattering of several that I tried on – but I opted to wait and scour the internet when I got home for a darker colour in the hope that it would have a slightly better slimming effect than the light beige in the shop. (There went one afternoon last week – but at least I found some.)

But throw in a currently trim AND  fit husband shopping for the same type of stuff, and it’s just about wrist slitting time. I’m trying not to reach for the chocolate for consolation.

All that said, I love it when we ride. We went out this morning, and did 60-odd km with some other riders, and didn’t do it tough at all. OK, burnie quads on a couple of climbs, but fitness factor was ok.  (Could have done with a Nana Nap this arvo, but I’ll put that down to getting up at 6am.)  We should fit in a few more rides before we set off (from Sydney) on the 14th July.

And hopefully I’ll solve my remaining clothing/gear  issues before then, and maybe even manage to drop a couple of kilos by the end of our ride, if not before. But given the appetite that I get when I do ride (and for hours afterwards), and the comfort eating when I get down about trying on clothes, I’m not sure how I’ll go.

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Twenty Years – or “You get less than that for murder.”

Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary. In this day and age, twenty years of marriage is just about recognised as a statistical achievement, and so, despite us being quite the unceremonial couple, I’ll take the opportunity to acknowlege the milestone.  (“Getting all d & m on me?” he’ll say.)

Most of our anniversaries to date have been sidelined a bit by a certain person’s birthday; last night we said ‘bugger it’, and went out for dinner for the second night in a row. It’s nice to have reached the point in our lives with children where we can just head out for a few hours without worrying about babysitting issues.  It was also nice to be able to spend a short amount of time together with no interruptions. That doesn’t seem to happen too much, and I suppose that’s the whole idea of  ‘going out for dinner’ on these sort of occasions. (I try not to think about what else $100 could have bought!)

I was mentioning this auspicious occasion to my classmates at TAFE this week, along with the ‘day before’ timing of the sixteen year old’s arrival into this world. Bless their Generation Y hearts, they did some maths, and were interested in the fact that there was a four year lapse between us getting married and the arrival of the first kid. Unusual these days, it seems.

“We also went out for three and a half years before we got married,” I said. And added: “We didn’t live together beforehand either.”

“Wow! That’s really unusual!” one said. “How did you know you’d be able to, like, cope with living together and all that ?”

“Ah well, we always reckoned if we could cope with paddling 5 day canoe marathons together, marriage would be a walk in the park,” I joked.   Half-joked, anyway.

Back then, living together wasn’t quite as prevalent as it is now.  While we holidayed together, and spent more than one night together once we were out of home in share houses, it wouldn’t have been an easy road with our families, so we just.. didn’t.  Also, after living in share accommodation, moving in together at last was comparative bliss, and not a bad way to start a marriage!

How long one would require this ‘living together’ experiment to go on for, anyway?  The hardest years for us came well down the track, after kids, really.  Maybe the canoe marathons did set us up, after all, to tackle the challenges, and to know that there would be difficult periods to be overcome,  times when you would feel like giving up and saying ‘it’s all too hard’, but knowing that the rewards of sticking to something you’d committed to were all worth it in the end.

Unlike a canoe marathon, there is no particular finishing line to aim for once you hitch your lives together, except that, twenty years ago, when we were doing those marathons, I’d look at the ‘old’ couples – 60-70 years of age, giving us a run for our money in their double kayaks, and I’d think “I want us to be still doing that together at that age.”

After navigating a few of the harder sections of this river of married life, I’d like to think we are still on track.

But, milestone though it is, don’t go expecting such things as eternity rings, jeweller, flowers or the like to have exchanged hands between us. Hopelessly Unromantic R US.

Lately, rather than double kayaks, we like to spend time together on our tandem. There are certainly parallels to the double kayak in terms of working together, and communicating well, often through nothing more than intuition.  You just don’t usually get as wet.

Anyway, in the next few weeks we’ll be purchasing front panniers for our tandem, so that we can take off on a 5-day tandem touring trip in July, just the two of us. So, we’ll consider the panniers our anniversary gift to each other, as will be the luxury of spending that time together.

And I’ll certainly be marketing it as our 20th anniversary getaway in negotiations when asking the grandparents to put up with the kids for a few nights.

tracenmarc_wedding

Our ceremony was on a lookout in the Blue Mountains. It’s an interesting story I might get around to telling one day!

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