Monday 15 December 2014

Trapeze School

Like many parents, I always believe in suggesting my kids take on as many adventurous and daring activities as possible. It builds resiliants and confidence. 
The trapeze is one of those activities and its a great fun day for kids and adults. 
Tasks include swinging upright (sitting on the bar) and upside down hanging by legs, several tricks including 'the plunge' and 'back arch', getting caught by another swinger and a back flip dismount! 
The kids loved it and I found out just how fast I can fall. I loved the setting amongst the sky scrappers of 'the Fort' and the whole operation was run brilliantly.

Belle the acrobat

Quinn the stylist

Levi the magnificent

The circus act

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 which is very hard to prevent. 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 blood filled 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 some of the cash in my pocket - about 800k and they left without further incident. They even apologized as they left, with matching rotten teeth grins declaring they needed the money for drugs and showing me their track marks.

With 500km in front of me on very quiet roads and many small and somewhat notorious towns to pass through I made the decision to abandon this leg of my tour of Vietnam and get a bus back to the nearest large town Nha Trang. With the adrenalin pumping immediately after the robbery I pushed hard to the next township which I could see a few k's ahead. 
I was there in 15 minutes and immediately spoke with some locals at a tourist stop 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 of my ride, 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 remedial 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 Alex, which 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. I was lucky. I had passport, USD and other valuables on me. And they did not (despite the syringe) display any violent intent. And I'd even venture to say, Vietnam is a very non-violent society, However when people are desperate anything can happen so its good to be prepared mentally how you might deal with such an occurance.

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 :)   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