Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas to all :)

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, I hope everyone has friends and family to celebrate with and enjoy this holiday period.

It has been a long time since my last blog but so much has been happening in the last days, weeks and months. The days have been flying by and there has seemed to be no time to put some thoughts on paper (actually on screen). The weeks have been a blur of training rides, time at the beach, time with family and meeting up with friends as much as possible. I have been getting some German tutoring which has been fun, my teacher is a lovely, patient lady and I feel like I am learning more (I’ve just been a little slack with the homework!).

The other big news of the Bates family is the engagement of little Katie to Richie which happened last Wednesday. Very exciting! So there is a wedding in the pipeline..picking a date has proven to be quite a task considering how little Kate is ever in one place at one time. Perhaps her blog will provide more news on this front (if she ever does update it).

So now it is Christmas. Gunnar is finding it quite strange to be in the sunshine rather than being surrounded by snow, Christmas markets, carols and yummy food. He is enjoying the time here so far, including the Bates antics at Christmas lunch which was held yesterday. Its always a good afternoon when someone ends up with musk sticks up their nose (thanks to Robbie Bates for that interesting sight). We attempted to make a gingerbread house for the first time, and after figuring out that we needed toothpicks for some structural reinforcement, our building turned out quite well. Considering how unartistic at least half of the family is, it wasn’t too bad an effort (however none of us were game to eat it!).

Christmas Day for us will be quite different than for all our friends in the northern hemisphere. We start with a bike ride, Robbie has a favourite loop especially for Christmas Day…its only 50km but is a good way to start the day, and riding on such empty roads is always a plus for us. Breakfast and presents will follow and then the plan is to head down to the beach for the afternoon with Gunnar, Mum and Dad. I received an early present from Mum, a bright red boogie board and have been giving that a workout. I had forgotten how much fun it can be and it will definitely be out tomorrow. Dinner at a friends place will finish the day off. What a great day…yummy food, family, friends, presents (for having done nothing at all) and the beach :) Again, wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, I am hoping for peace on Earth and goodwill to all men :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What a weekend!

I have been meaning to write a blog about my last weekend in Europe all week but the time has just flown by. We had a really interesting weekend and driving down to Italy from Germany through lots of snow to be greeted by sunshine in Italy was a great way to start it. We headed down on Friday and by the time we arrived in Bellagio it was dark. We drove up the steep climb from the lake towards our hotel, having no idea what our surroundings were like so it was a great surprise the next morning to see the incredible views down across the lake and to the countryside around. Friday night we had the chance to meet Mark (the groom) for the first time, and what a lovely guy he is. We also had the chance to dig in to some great sea food and Italian pasta...I don't think I could ever get tired of good Italian food.

Saturday morning I joined Gail (the bride) at the hairdresser for the final hair do...a few hours later after a flurry of make-up, dressing, finding the brides' parents who we thought were missing in action we were off to the Town Hall where the wedding was taking place. It was an Italian civil service, and after the Italian wedding of Barbie and Massimo last year I was a little familiar with how it all went. There was a lady translating into English the words spoken and she spoke with such gusto, she could of been addressing a crowd of thousands rather than the seven of us. It was a beautiful ceremony and the most important thing was achieved, Gail Chasley Robinson became a Faulkener and a wife and Mark found himself as a husband :) We all had some lovely photos taken down by the lake and throughout parts of the old town of Bellagio....such a spectacular setting!

Lunch followed...again, fantastic Italian food with an emphasis on the local seafood and wine. It was lovely to have such an intimate reception and we drank and ate until the sun came down.

The next morning we headed up the climb from where we were staying to Madonna dell'Ghissallo...the church and cycling museum that has quite a reputation, not just in Lombardia but in many parts of Europe and the world. Mass was taking place as it was Sunday morning and it was really good to be up there in the sunshine with the view down across the lake and across to the mountains, taking in the whole scene. I have raced up this climb twice, in 2003 and 2006 in the womens Giro di it was nice to be there again under much more relaxing (and decidedly less sweaty) circumstances! We finished our day in Bellagio with a delicious pizza and then it was time for the drive back. We had decided to make the trip shorter by catching the ferry across the lake with the car and cutting across straight to Lugano. Things didn't quite go to plan and somehow (how do these things ever happen??) we ended up on top of the 2117 m Passo di Spluga. It was a winter wonderland up there, so beautiful and everyone was in high spirits as we headed to the very top of the pass and the border between Italy and Switzerland. Unfortunately we were not able to get over the pass as there was so much snow and no cars had been coming up the Swiss side to clear the road....mmmm...bugger. So we turned around and made our way back to Lake Como and started again. A bit of added adventure and some nice photos of the top...nothing lost luckily (except some hours)! We found out the next day that there had been a record amount of snow dumped in Switzerland within the day, so no real surprise that we couldn't cross the pass!

Sitting here now in 31 degrees and Sydney sunshine it is hard to imagine that that was less than a week ago. I am struggling riding the heat now compared to not being able to ride on the snowy strange. It has been great to get back, I haven't suffered from jet-lag too badly and I have had a few days to sort myself out with things and I am starting to feel as though I am back in the groove. After a good ride with little sis today I am enjoying a day hanging out at home, followed by a bbq this is good :) Gunnar comes over in 3 weeks which I am very excited about, and I know he is keen to hit the Sydney beaches again.

Monday, November 05, 2007


My last weeks in Germany are passing quickly. I spent most of last week getting back into training and trying to finish my last uni assignment. The weather was more conducive to studying than exercising outdoors but it is scary how quickly you get used to it. This morning I woke up to sunny blue skies which was exciting and exclaimed to Gunnar, "its 5 degrees - that's warm!"...and I wasn't being sarcastic! Oh my....

Yesterday I had a lovely catch up with some of the girls from my team from this year. We met in the east of Germany near Dresden for some hiking in the 'Elbstandsteingebirge' which is part of the Saechsische Schweitz. It was dry for most of the day, and we warmed up quickly with some hiking and chatting. Autumn really is a magical time of year in the forest...the colours are so pretty. We came across a really nice little cafe with a great view across the valley and were reinvigorated after some pancakes and gluhwein (actually inside was so nice and warm that I felt like curling up for a nap). I was glad to be able to see a bit more of Germany in my last weekend here for the year. At the end of the week we head to Italy for the big wedding....(not mine!) will follow...
This week will be filled with training, packing up all my things and getting organised & excited about coming home!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ice fast run

The weather has been decidedly wintery this last week or so in Germany. It was been as cold as -2 degrees at night with max temps climbing up to a not-so-balmy 4 degrees which has taken some getting used to. The good news is that the house is very warm and cosy, and when you go for a run in 2 degrees you don't get up too much of a sweat! Michelle, my Aussie friend was here for a few days this week. She had been in Salzburg last weekend and I had a SOS message from her when she found herself in the midst of a winter wonderland, snowing for 3 days and she didn't know what to do...she definitely didn't have the clothing for such weather and so she jumped on a train bound for Germany.
We had some pretty funny days, I tried to take her up the mountains to show her how pretty it is around here....about 5km from home we encountered a pea-soup like fog. We persisted, drove up there and in the end could not really see past our toes....bit of a shame! She was not too sad to say goodbye and head home to some Sydney sunshine after 10 weeks of travel.
Tonight we went to watch the Deutsche Meisterschaft Eisschnelllaufen (literally ice-fast-run) normal speak, German National Speed Skating Championships.... It was a bit of a thrill for me...I have never seen speed skating live and it is just so fast! The ice was like glass, and the skaters were great to watch, I even got to see a crash. I did the appropriate sport spectator things (German style anyway)...ate bratwurst and drank Gluhwein...and had to leave when I hadn't been able to feel my toes for 20mins.
This weather isn't super motivating for bike riding but I have been doing a bit to get back into it. Hopefully the weather forecast isn't wrong and there will be some sign of sunshine and temperature in the double-digits...this little Aussie is hopeful :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Home time

The holidays are over and I am back 'home' in Germany, time to adjust back to 'normal' life (I'm not sure that I know what one of those entails!).
The last days in Rome were fantastic. The days flew by in a whirl of ancient ruins, amazing museums, cappuccino's, great pasta, yummy pastries, delicious gelati, creamy cafe macchiato's, smooth red wines....this list definitely has a bias towards items of an edible or drinkable nature and that is not really an accident. We ate and drank hours away, interspersed with walking at least 15km a day through the winding backstreets that make up Rome. It is no surprise that we did some of the eating whilst on the was the only way to fit it all in!
We managed to see all the sights and were lucky on more than one occasion. I did a little 'woe is me' time after having to wait more than 2 hours to get into the Vatican Museums and then realised how lucky we had been when we stopped for a bite to eat on the way home and it began pouring with rain, a surprise afternoon downpour came from vibrant blue skies. The pour sods who were still waiting in line would have been soaked....what to do in that situation? Do you stand and get wet through because you've already been waiting 2 hours or abandon post? Luckily we didn't have to make that decision as we were in a cafe with Gunnar silently pleading with the staff to serve me asap (a certain someone gets a little cranky when the blood sugar drops!).
I could write pages on all that we did and saw but I can just summarise and say that Rome is overwhelming in so many ways...the amount of: history, amazing buildings, crazy women driving in stillettos on a vespa, good coffee available at every corner, well-dressed Italian men (love a man in a suit!), great, fresh food etc etc. We finished off our trip with drinks in Villa Borgehese watching the sun go down, dinner at a little Osteria we found which had fantastic pasta and then gelati at a gelateria we couldn't believe we hadn't found earlier (probably a lucky thing).
Now it is time for reflection on the season of racing, time to get things in order for next year and enjoy my last weeks in Europe. As much as I look forward to being in one place, I tend to get restless after 4 or 5 days so we will see how it goes :) I was thinking about where I have been this year..apart from Australia I have raced in Germany, Holland, Italy, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Canada and Belgium this year. I have been able to explore Prague, Slovenia and Rome and am soon to visit Bellagio on Lake Como. How am I ever going to settle down to a normal life? That will be a challenge indeed :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just a short post to wish uncle Graham a very Happy Birthday for Sunday....whatever you do get up to, I hope you enjoy it :) For aunty Cheryl, we did have gelati from the place close to Trevi Fountain last night....the meringue with hazelnuts was spectacular :)
Have a good weekend everybody

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The craziness that is Rome

I have journeyed some to Rome, a crazy, fascinating and enchanting city. My Sydney friends, Sam and Heather McGovern are based here for a few months for work and it has been great to see them and see how well they have integrated themselves into the city. I think it is well and truly agreeing with them....Heather has charmed all the local old men, from doorman to butcher and Sam has nearly figured out the direct route to the best gelati in Rome. The weather has been much more agreeable than in the more northern parts of Europe....sunshine and 25 degrees which for this Aussie is just about spot on.
The first few days I was not too much of a tourist, I enjoyed following Sam around through the little streets from the laundromat to the fresh food market and in search of a 'good' bike shop in order to find out how it is possible to go for a decent bike ride in this city. All of these tasks involve passing the many 'sites' of Rome...Piazza del Popolo is a stone's throw from their 'home', the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Via del Corso...and numerous other amazing old buildings and churches....there is just too many to know the names of them all. One of the treats has been staying with people who have already explored and know where the best local cafes, delis and restaurants are. It saves playing hit and miss and means enjoying plenty of fantastic fresh Italian food, wine, coffee and gelato every day....what a life!
Gunnar arrived last night and today we played tourist. With backpack in tow be headed off to the Vatican to try and get a glimpse of the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. We were prepared that it would be busy but we were overwhelmed with just how many people there were. A 3 hr long wait to get into the Vatican Museums to see the Sistine Chapel and 2+hrs just to get into the church. We were not super enthused about this, so took in the piazza and headed off for other city sites with plans to get up very early for the lines tomorrow.
We have had a great day taking in everything, and we still have dinner tonight to look forward to, always an experience within itself.
I can't wait to get 'home' to Germany and post some photos of my last weeks of adventures.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lovely Ljubjlana

It is my morning of departure from Slovenia and I am sad to be leaving. As with most places that you travel to, you think that of course you will be back again but often that is not the case...there are so many places to see and explore in the world.
Since my last blog we had some more amazing days in Bled and its surroundings. Lake Bohinj is gorgeous, and the hiking around the area was beautiful. We had planned to do a big walk for the day but unfortunately I was the weakest link. It happens to me at the end of every cycling season, I attempt to do some other form of exercise and end up hobbling around for days after pushing those muscles I haven't used for more than 6 months a little too far. On this holiday, I am not sure what I did but I woke up on Wednesday morning and my right quad was not happy with me at all. Walking on the flat or uphill was fine but going down was terrible, I had to do a funky kind of hop just to get down to breakfast. Due to this we had to settle for hiking up to a waterfall and then around one side of the was a lovely day again and the 10km or so that we did was satisfying enough.
The next day in Bled we headed out to Vintgar Gorge, the walk from Bled out throught the little villages, surrounded by the mountains was a great way to start the morning and the gorge was all that is cracked up to be. We finished the day off with hiring mountain bikes and riding around the lake....all in all another happy day in Slovenia.
On Friday we caught the bus here to Ljubjlana...we had booked to stay at Hostel Celica, which is the place to stay here. It was previously a prison and has been renovated, with the help of 18 top Slovenian artists to become the coolest hostel I have ever stayed in. Some of the rooms are the more traditional dorms but the first level is the converted 'cells'...quite an experience. We explored Ljubjlana in the late afternoon and followed the masses by pulling up a stool at one of the many bars next to the river and drank some of the local beer, 'Union' while people watching. Saturday we awoke to the sound of heavy rain...for Michelle it was a bit of a godsend, she has been travelling for more than 7 weeks and was in need to an enforced down day. We have been so lucky with the weather, at this time of year you have to be grateful for every day of sunshine you get, so we weren't too worried. We did venture out into the rain to check out the fruit and vege markets...very worthwhile but we were soaked and spent the rest of the morning drying out, reading on the couches in the cafe in the hostel.
So now I head to Rome...I'm very much looking forward to this week as well. I am so glad that I decided to come to Slovenia, I would be back here in a feels like much more than a week since I left Stuttgart which for me is the sign of a good holiday :)
Photos still to come....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Beautiful Bled

It has been a long time since my last blog and so much has happened....Tuscany for racing, Novellara for visiting, Stuttgart for spectating and now I am in Bled, Slovenia for some holiday time.
My uni friend Mich and I arrived here early on Monday morning after quite a comic train trip from Stuttgart.

The first day here we walked around the lake which is incredible, sussed out the town, walked up to Bled Castle for a fantastic view over the region and then rowed out to Bled island and rang the bell in the church for luck...its the thing to do. Yesterday we joined a group for the 'Emerald River Adventure', there were 2 van's of us, and not surprisingly all but two in the group were Aussies...can't escape them. We did some hiking in several beautiful spots, climbed up to waterfalls, white-water rafted down the Soča river (beautiful green colour), fell into the 6 degree water several times, watched a few of the others jump off a 14m high bridge into the 6 degree water (one of the girls bent her legs at the last minute and had some big bruises down the front of both legs from where they hit the water, ouch!), caught a car-train through a tunnel that cut through the mountains, drank some local beer, ate some local soup for lunch and met some really nice people. We were away for 11 hours and it was a fanastic day. We have been blessed with sunshine, clear skies and no wind....there is that lovely mountain freshness in the air in the mornings and evenings and the days are glorious. Can't wait to post some photos....
Today we are going out to a place called Lake Bohinj for some exploring and some hiking. I am sold on Slovenia already, the people are lovely, the autumn colours are magic, the scenery spectacular. On Friday we head to Ljubjlana for 2 nights and then Mich travels on to Croatia and I catch the train to Rome via Venice. I am back in Germany in just under 2 still some adventures to be had :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Racing in Holland

It has been awhile since my last blog, I have made the rounds around western Europe and packed in quite a few racing days. I was meant to head to Italy for a week of training and catching up with some Italian friends, however my plans were changed as our team was down one rider due to injury and so I headed to Holland for 6 days of racing. I raced in Holland for the last two seasons with a Dutch team, but 2007 has seem me stay well away from the windy craziness that is Dutch racing.
The weeks away racing began with the journey to the far western point of France, Plouay in Brittany. It was the penultimate world cup of the season, and with 3 climbs every lap, it always makes for a tough race. I started rather nervously amongst the 165 other women who had pinned the race numbers on for the day, the biggest field I'd raced in for awhile. The race began quickly and the field gradually began to diminish....I hung on for dear life on the climbs and was happy to finish in the front group. Noemi Cantele, an Italian who rides for Bigla, powered away from the break on the final climb to take an impressive victory.
We headed north from France to the south of Holland to begin the Holland Ladies Tour in the hills around Valkenburg. Day 1 of racing in Holland and after raining all morning, we were lucky to race mainly on dry roads. I had my first race crash in a long time when I came down in a bit of a pile up, I hurt my left pointer finger (no laughing!) and broke my derailleur hanger but apart from that was unscathed. The rest of the week was a bit of a blur of rain, wind, cobbles but luckily not too much craziness. We didn't have too much success as a team however the racing was good to get some speed and power in the legs.
I got home late on Saturday night and on Sunday went to Leipzig to pick up little sister and bring her back here for the week. We have done a few rides under grey, cloudy skies this week but sunshine is predicted for the next days which will be nice. I have only 4 or 5 training days left in the season....the last World Cup of the season is in Nuernberg on Sunday and then we head straight to Tuscany for the Tour of Tuscany which runs from Tuesday to Sunday.
The end of season has come about quickly, but I am looking forward to wrapping it up on a good note and hopefully I can pull out some strong resultss in the next week or so.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A week close to home

I managed to survive the tour in France....all in all it was a good tour. We had some long days toward the end, a double stage day on the Wednesday in the rain and then 155km stage the next day. We finished the tour in the mountains on the eastern border of France, a really beautiful place that I would love to go back to and explore. The last two days we finished and then started in a place called La Bresse which is a ski-resort in the winter. There was, of course, no snow to be seen, just lots of very green, picturesque hills and cute little mountain houses....aaahhh.
It was good to get home after the racing and travelling around the countryside which definitely takes its toll. I have had a quite week since. Some recovery days off the bike early in the week, some catching up with uni and not straying too far from home. The furthest afield I went was to Jena (50km away) to visit CJ in hospital. I baked her some scones (she is from England) and had a nice afternoon chatting to her and examining photos of the amazing pins she now has holding her leg together. She is back to Australia tomorrow which is great news and a relief for her, I think she had had enough of the German style hospital food.
I am at home for the weekend which is a rare treat in the racing season. I can do some rides with the bunch, which always has its comic moments (lets just say its no Coluzzi) and I think a bbq is in store as the weather has been quite good, still sunshine prevailing.
Next Thursday I am off to Plouay, in Brittany in France for the second last World Cup of the season. It is tough race, definitely a race of attrition on the hilly lap and after the 1500km drive there I am hoping to have good legs. From there I will head down to Novellara in Italy for a week of training with Liv Gollan and to see some good friends, Baby and Massimo...can't wait for the coffee, pizza and gelati (not sure in which order).

Monday, August 13, 2007

Route de France

I am in Beauvais in France having completed the prologue and the first two stages of Route de France. We began on Saturday in a lovely coastal village called Fecamp in Normandy and we are working out way south-west to finish in the Vogesen region (much hiller than where we began). So far the racing as been pretty fast (thanks to the tailwind for much of the last 250km of racing)…it is a little shock to the legs after some slower, hillier tours but good nonetheless. I have still not mastered the bunch sprint (and after many years being a cyclist I am pretty sure that I never will) but I have been having a go and enjoying racing in the sunshine in such a pretty area.
Tomorrow we race to Argenteuil, very close to Paris and I think after that the racing will get a bit nastier…a double stage day with 95km in the morning and a 22km time trial in the afternoon is Wednesday’s treat and then 150km in the hills on Thursday.
The team is racing well, our young one Steffi Pohl has the Under 21 white jersey and we have to make sure the likes of Peta Mullens (fellow Aussie) keeps her hands off it! The Aussies have a development team here and they are getting amongst it and racing really well. I will report more when I have some internet access (not so easy in France)…

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thueringen Rundfahrt

I've just gotten home after racing a tough 6 days through the eastern part of Thueringen. We did lots of climbing, suffering in the cross-winds and racing through torrential rain...I tried my luck on the first few days with some break-away attempts that were unfortunately not fruitful. I wore the white sprinters jersey for a day (very funny for everyone who is aware of my sprinting prowess) and altogether the team had a very successful tour. I am home for most of the week and will try and get some R&R before heading to Sweden for a World Cup on the weekend. The little sister is staying here for the week in Arnstadt, it will be good to have her company and I might even be able to convince her to update her blog!
The photos are courtesy of CJ Farquarhson from

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A quiet week

I have enjoyed a week of sunshine and being at home. The second semester of uni has begun and I have been trying to get on top of it early before the travel and lack of internet access begins. I also took the time to go and get a hair cut that was much overdue. This in itself is not a newsworthy piece but while sitting at the hairdresser I had some time to reflect on the various interesting experiences I have had over the last 5 years at hairdresser's all over Europe. Explaining exactly what you want done is hard in English at the best of times and so trying to describe in German, Italian, Dutch and Flemish at various times what I wanted has been quite is amazing that I have always left looking vaguely presentable. One particular experience in Ghent in Belgium with Kate was quite amusing. We saw a place that looked quite good and so made an appointment for the following day. The next day we went back and there was a bald, middle-aged guy with full white overall's on ready to do our we sat there while Bob-the-Builder did a bit of colour on mine, bit of colour on Kate's hair, back and forth...
I start racing this afternoon in Thueringen Rundfahrt, a tough 6 day tour and hopefully I have something more interesting to report than a hair cut!
I would like to send out a big Congraulations to my ma and pa who managed to make it to the top of Kilimanjaro last week after some tough preparation over the last months. I just hope that I am as sprightly and adventurous at the same age....

Monday, July 16, 2007

More stamps in the passport....

Its good having people to chase in a TT
Not looking happy at the prospect of the next stage :)

I am back home after being away for a week and the temperature is 24 degrees warmer than when I left....crazy! The Germans have taken this spurt of summer with good humour and in the Sunday paper there was 48 tips for a 48 hour summer....its likely that that is how long this good weather will last....So no complaining that I am sweating like a maniac.

I have been in the hilly Krasna Lipa in Czech Republic for the last 5 days to get some racing back into the legs after just pedalling around for some weeks. The racing was pretty tough but it was a good tour to kick start the rest of the season with. My team-mate Gela had super form and I tried to do what I could to help. On the second stage I managed it quite nicely...there was a really tight right hand corner with 1km to go, the roads were wet and I locked up the back wheel and found myself sliding across the road...I was right at the front of the bunch and Gela was the only one to get through unhindered and won the race a few seconds ahead of the chasing bunch. Now that's team work (sorry to the other girls I took down....).

I now have a week of recovery before Thuringen Tour, a tough and important race for this part of the season. This is the area that I live, although I am slightly more in the west, but the terrain is familiar and hopefully that works in my favour. I will get some R&R, but still need to do some decent training days to ensure good form for the rest of the season. Hopefully the weather stays a bit warmer and I can enjoy some bbq's and swimming in the local lake (its not Freshwater beach but its better than nothing).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Back in the groove

After some weeks in not so summery German weather, dodging rain clouds and getting blown around from the crazy winds, I was ready to race again and escape training by myself. We had two days of racing in Braunschweig, 200km north of where I live in Germany and we were graced with good weather and some blue skies. Saturday was a 40km crit in the evening and after several weeks with no racing the acceleration was a shock to the legs but surprisingly I felt quite good. Team Getraenke-Hoffmann had the numbers to be the dominant force in the race and everyone rode well together, countering attacks and we filled the podium.
Yesterday we had a 95km road race, which was quite challenging considering the course...a tough little climb and cross-winds to contend with on much of the course. Similarly to the day before, we had the numbers to be a big force in the race and again filled the top 5 places. I was really happy to get some speed in the legs and a bit of power back.
I am now staying with Angela, a team-mate who spend some a few weeks in Australia in February before a four day tour in Czech Republic starting on Thursday.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I've been tagged..

Indy has tagged me and I'm normally not into these things but I have been very impressed with how her and Ken are going in the "Guamazing Race" that I figure I should be a sport about it. So....
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Random things about me:
1. Mum and Dad chose the name 'Natalie' for me after going sailing and seeing a sail boat with a beautiful blue sail and the boat's name was Natalie
2. My middle name is Robyn, after Christopher Robyn from Winnie-the-Pooh....lucky that I'm a girl and not a boy, or Christopher Robyn it would have been.
3. I am quite literally blind as a bat, when I go for an eye-test, I can't even see the very big letter at the top of the board
4. I'm currently doing a Master of Arts degree with a major in Linguistics (something completely non-related to my first degree but interesting)
5. My favourite ice-cream/gelati in the whole world is from a gelati shop in a town called Novellara in the middle of Italy. Kinder and Panna die for... :)
6. Since I have doing this cycling business which allows me to spend our Australian winter's in European summer's I am currently on my 10th summer in a winters, just summertime for me
7. I am a pretty fast typist, thanks to high school days and trying to be half as fast as Indy who was a speed machine
8. I am really uncoordinated (anyone who has seen me to try to learn a new skill can back me up on this one)...

So...I don't have 8 people who can post a blog for this but I will pass the baton on to
Kate and Richy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


It doesn't matter which language you use, Prague is truly a beautiful city with a great atmosphere. In order to make the most of my time off the bike, Gunnar and I decided to head to Prague for a brief visit. We were only there for one night which meant a lot of walking in the two days to see the sights. We made it back feeling very satisfied with our trip, but with aching legs and feet....its amazing how unathletic such a venture can make you feel! We were both lucky and unlucky with the weather, it was pretty stormy so we had periods of glorious sunshine interspersed with pouring rain. We made the mistake on the first afternoon to head out without an umbrella or rain jacket....this lead to us running along the cobbled footpaths trying to make it back to our hotel before we were completely saturated (this was unsuccessful!).

We explored Prague Castle (the largest ancient castle in the world), walked across the beautiful Charles Bridge that crosses the River Vltava several times, drank some Czech beer (cheaper than the water here) and took photos of many other sights in the city....its hard to name everything. There were many highlights and I have to say that the only real downside was the amount of pissed British 'lads' who come here for the weekend to drink the really cheap beer, but even that was quite amusing in itself.
I am back 'home' now and today was the start of training again. My first race is two weeks away and so until then I am trying to build some strength and get ready for the second half of the season.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


After many hours of travel in many forms I have eventually made it back 'home'. We had one last morning in Montreal before our flight, it was a beautiful day and I am glad that we got to see the city in a good light before leaving. We went to the 'Le Monde du Corps' at the Montreal Science Museum which was an amazing exhibition of human bodies in many forms, with some dissections that I would have thought impossible...coming from a science background I thought it was pretty cool, some of the girls were freaked out by it which is not that surprising! We had a false start at the airport, a return from the runway with the plane being grounded and a further wait of 6 hours in Montreal....the joys of travel...
The weather in Germany has been a treat to return to, and apart from a good dose of jet-lag I am feeling good and glad to be back. The highlight of my day today was going strawberry picking....they have a field very close to where we live and you can go there and pick as many strawberries as you like....they then weigh them and you pay for what you pick at the bargain price of 2 euros/kilo...pretty good if you ask me. The challenge was to find the biggest, juiciest ones possible and we quickly filled up our little basket....should be enough for dessert tonight I think. Not sure if it possible to OD on strawberries but I have been doing a good job of trying :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A little piece of paradise

It seems like quite a lot has happened since my last blog...the highlights of which haven't been on the bike! I thought Summerside where we first started was pretty but it doesn't really compare to the green, hilly interior and north coast of the island. Our first stage of the tour was harder than expected on a relatively flat circuit around Summerside. The sun was shining but the wind was blowing and lots of girls were struggling in the cross-winds which meant the bunch was strung out a lot.
The next day was a very interesting stage, an individual time trial of 28.8 km across Confederation Bridge, the bridge that joins New Brunswick (on the mainland) with PEI. Again the wind was blowing very strongly which meant 60kph+ on the way out, spinning out in the 12 cog and then a very slow grovel home of 22-26kph...crazy! All just on one corners to ease the wind in our faces.
We then moved hotels to the north coast, we were staying in cottages on a lake, fireplaces in all of them and my highlight was a beautiful golden retriever named Sam who lived there. It was a gorgeous place and we felt very lucky indeed to stay there. The race on the third day was pretty nasty, again a lot of wind and after my tummy bug I haven't regained the strength I would have liked. I am lacking any power to have a real go and was hanging on for dear life. We started and finished in the village of Cavendish which is home to 'Green Gables', we took some photos and I explained the stories of Anne of Green Gables to the Germans who had never heard of it.
After much overnight contemplation on whether to start today, I had some feedback from the heart rate data that I take in the mornings that my body was coping okay, despite feeling terrible and so I started. Luckily it was a slower race at the start and I was able to ride myself into it a little bit. We raced from the north coast, eastwards and then looped to the south-west and we finished in Stratford, just across the bridge from Charlottetown, the capital of PEI. We are now staying in uni dorms in Charlottetown which are the flashest that I have seen. Tomorrow is the last day of the tour with a crit in the afternoon in downtown Charlottetown...its been a pretty tough 10 days of racing with some sickness and lots of travel thrown in. It has been great to see a different part of the world, but I am looking forward to going home :)
The first photo has Confederation Bridge in the background, the one that we time trialled across. The next photo is me at Green Gables, the next at one of our hotels called Shaw's which has been a hotel since the 1860's and the final one is of the team at Brackely Beach on the north coast.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

To greener pastures..

After a not super enjoyable week in Montreal that concluded with we catching a stomach bug that knocked me about and meant that I didn't finish the tour....we have moved to greener pastures quite literally.
Yesterday morning we boarded our coaches, and reminiscent of a school bus trip, only slightly longer....16 hrs later we arrived in Prince Edward Island. We couldn't really appreciate the beauty of our surroundings at 1am, with both the darkness and weariness well and truly set in.
This morning we awoke to very blue, sunny skies and enjoyed a short ride, exploring what we could of the island....the first impressions are that it is very green, very quaint, lots of little white picket fences and immaculate houses, lots of water and very very friendly people. Whilst riding, we had so many people cheering from the footpath and hooting from their cars (in a friendly way)...these people are genuinely glad we are here and for cyclists that is a rarity rather than a regularity.
We had the team presentation and dinner tonight, very yummy brownies for dessert and tomorrow afternoon the tour starts. We have some interesting stages traversing the island, time trialling across the 13km long Confederation Bridge that joins the mainland to the island and a criterium on the last day in Charlottetown. See for more info...