Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cycling alone....Its a long and lonely road and there are dangers... Maybe that's why we do it?

Cycling long distances through remote places is obviously not with out its risks. Most risks we can mitigate against. Some we can not. Being ROBBED on a desolate highway is one of those risks. Escape is nearly impossible when you're on a bicycle and your assailants are on motor cycles. Defiance, is in my view far too high a risk to consider. You are really left only to comply and hope you get out of it with out too much expense or injury - or worse.
The people who robbed me appeared to follow me from a small highway town I had just passed though. Their weapon of choice (disconcertingly) was a syringe. Their request of 2 million vnd was fairly aggressively delivered as they stopped their motorbike in front of me to block my path.  I handed over the cash in my pocket - about 800k and they left. I was lucky. I had passport, USD and other valuables on me. With 500km in front of me of very quiet roads and many small, somewhat notorious towns to pass through I made the immediate decision to abandon this leg of my end to end tour of Vietnam.
With the adrenalin pumping immediately after the robbery I pushed hard to the next township which I could see ahead. I was there in 15 minutes and spoke with some people at a tourist stop restaurant who helped me waive down the next bus. The chance arrival of a random, long distance coach with a spare seat and room for my bike was the next small piece of good fortune I encountered that day.
2 hours later I was back in Nha Trang contemplating my next move.  As the ordeal took place on day 1 I quickly restructured my plans to use the next 5 days based in Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue, purchased an overnight sleeper ticket on the 8pm train and boarded after a remedy beer and pizza.

The next 5 days worked out perfectly. Day rides out of Hoi An and Hue, A support vehicle and the company of a fellow rider all allowed me to relax and enjoy immensely a somewhat different adventure than originally planned.

Map shows exact point where I was robbed by 2 (male) individuals on a motorcycle. Time of robbery was around 3pm, November 8th. I had received some warnings about this coast from Nha Trang all the way to Quang Ngai. If cycling alone or with out vehicle support please take extra care.


On the third day of my revised schedule I took on the famous Hai Van Pass. Nowhere near as tough as the ride up to DaLat - This climb is around 11km long to the summit. The views are fantastic and descent was a real blast!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

BGC Cycle Asia with Robbie McEwen

A dream realised. If you re an NBA fan, equate this to meeting Michael Jordan. If you re an AFL nut this is the equivalent of having a beer with Lee Mathews. For me it was spending an hour with Robbie McEwen in a bookstore cafe, drinking coffee and having a laugh in an impromptu meeting - which was really just a couple of Aussies catching up in a foreign city. Robbie was in town promoting the BGC cycling event and his book, which was released this month. I made a point to do my shopping and drop by the book store on the way out to see what was happening. To my great fortune I happened to meet Robbie and his manager at the cafe bar.I offered to share my table and we hung out for an hour. Great bloke, happy to share a lot of his life stories with me and enquire a lot about living in Manila. Tried not to act like a groupie,and to be honest the conversation just flowed, not even focused on cycling or the tour or those epic sprints he won during his stellar career on the bike. Talked about Asia, the gold coast, Belgium, our kids and life in the Philippines. A great experience for me and hopefully a normal day for Robbie and his manager who I think enjoyed the casual encounter.
And to top it off (Coincidentally) I even made it as poster boy of the 2014 event! Kids thought that was hilarious!

Robbie and me

BGC streets at the start

ALWAYS show off at the finish line!

Vietnamese village life as seen from the bike - Vinh Mỹ, Thua Thien-Hue, Vietnam

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Amazing Mount Mayon, Bicol

Another must do activity around Mt Mayon is Quad biking. The Kids absolutely loved this! They all got a huge buzz out of being in charge of their own powered go anywhere bikes! Awesome.





Friday, 17 October 2014

1 More Asian Champs

An unlikely goal realized for me to compete in 1 more Asian champs. The Philippine Eagles played well - not making the dizzying heights of the final as they did in 2013 - but getting to a semi where we were defeated by the HongKong Dragons. Singapore Wombats eventual champions of 2014.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Big Sports Bike Manila

I have to admit I'm quite proud of surviving over 3 years on a big bike in Manila. Flooded streets, Jeepneys, massive pot holes, oil puddles, monsoonal rain, corrupt cops, bug swarms, getting chased in a road rage incident, countless punctures (and countless vulcanised repairs) and even a riding down a set of stairs failed to stop the big blue beast.
However the most memorable day onthe bike was when I was invited to the procession ride for the funeral of good friend Steve Aurthur. I rode with Manoli Loukas (Zorba) who would sadly loose his own life just a few months later.  Some of the pics below are from that ride with Steve's Harley being ridden in remembrance.







 


 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Meeting the greats

The Final PAFL match of the year was played on Friday 26th Sep (GF eve) and in attendance - and in fact coaching my Dingoes team was the 1987 Norm Smith Medalist Davis Rhys Jones.
Dingoes won a tight match 11.7 to 9.8 - I managed 3 goals :)  ..cool.   It was a great season once again with around 12 games played .


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Wake Boarding @ CWC - Camsur Water Complex - Bicol

One of the best holidays in my 3 years in Manila was a trip down to Bicol which included a visit to CWC wake boarding park. Its a huge facility and parts of it are a little run down (the accommodation) but the cables and lakes are good and we ripped it up for 2 days!  Such a joy for me to get all the kids up on the knee boards or wake boards! Even Levi went solo.


    
Taught myself the 'standing jump start'


Yes there were some FAILS of course!
Tom persisted with the Wake board.......(See the video below to see if he made it up!)
This was a great moment for Tom..and me.. (But see the video below to see if he made it all the way!)
..then Levi went solo on the Knee board!..


Some more EPIC FAILs.!



Sunday, 17 August 2014

Cycling Vietnam - tour of DaLat and Nha Trang

Descending.  After the births of my 3 kids this is possibly the best 3 minutes of my life! Actually I descended for 2 hours, this is a particularly exciting section. Not the best road surface but little traffic and enough good road to hit big speeds;

Monday, 11 August 2014

Mountain bike River crossing in Yangshuo

This was an awesome day out - Getting completely drenched and covered in mud around Yangsuo and the Li river




Thursday, 7 August 2014

China P3 - Rock climbing in Yangshuo

...have to admit I felt a little anxious here being so high up a (real) rock face for once, instead of the climbing wall at our local shopping mall - and here you are really relying on just one bolt...Then the same anxiety 10 times over watching the kids climb... but really great fun and a very beautiful location.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

CHINA ~ Part 2

During a 3 week trip through China I was able to get into a number of things which classify as sport including Road Cycling and Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing and Trekking along the great wall. But for me it was the the early morning running I enjoyed the most. And one of the most beautiful early morning running routes anyone could take is a lap of central Beijing.! Really!
From the Ascot apartments I went West along Wangfujing / E Chang an Road (Subway line 1), Thru Tienanmen Square followed by a lap around the forbidden city then home. The side streets in the area are beautiful, shaded cobble stone lanes called Hutongs with loads of cool looking old style houses and small shops . The surrounds of the forbidden city are spectacular. There is a walled palaces with motes and gardens to follow all the way around. The locals are out on the streets from very early practicing tha-chi, dance or other types of movement and meditation. Its so authentic and surreal and...Chinese! Then almost as spectacular is a lap around the walled city of Xian. Take the paths at ground level of run (or ride) atop the wall itself for an awesome view of the city... its a 14km circumference of perfect running track.
Xi'an is a great city to visit - famous for the Terracotta warriors.

...around the walled old city of Xian...



outdoor pingpong


early morning running past the forbidden city palace

outside the forbidden city

Tienanmen Square


CHINA - P1

An amazing country to visit and awesome place to ride!
I did most of my riding around Yangshuo.

The footage tells the story of how much fun this place is...


Skate Places in Manila

Inside San Lorenzo on out way to the UltraPool.
...saw this story on top 10 Skate Locations in Manila which is pretty cool but it failed to include 2 important places;
11 - Dasmarinas and San Lorenzon villages; If you can get access, there is heaps of good surfaced, hilly, safe roads. We also skate over the walk way, across EDSA and into San Lorenzo all the way to Waltermart.
12 - Mountain Dew Skate park; Mundaluyong - Now this place is very cool. Its 100 peso to use and you need to register - Its a good beginners level park.  There is also a site based skate shop selling decks, wheels and trucks!
Crossing EDSA between Dasmarinas and San Lorenzo.