Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sydney, Australia, We made it!

We arrived!  This is the view from our hotel, the Sheraton 4 Points.  We had a bit of a shuffle to get our rooms, and thank you Ravi for being so generous with yours.  We are overlooking Darling Harbour.  Just below, you can see the Botanical Gardens, and the Maritime Museum (see the submarine?)  In the background is another contemporary bridge, not the famous one by the Opera House.

A special thanks to Joyce and Jennie and Matt for all the tips and places to go.  We've now been and totally enjoyed the Circular Quay, the Rocks, the street fair in the Rocks.  We had breakfast at the City Extra Cafe.  I loved the Rocks.  Awesome shops, all of them seemed to be something special.  A few of note, Ken Done, Aboriginal paintings and didgeridoos, and boomerangs.  I also love the opals.  I was here about 10 years ago on a stopover and had 3-4 hours here.  I walked to the Opera House, and the Rocks, and a nice cappuccino.  I got some nice take homes too.  Opal jewelry for my girls at the Rock Hound, and an Aboriginal boomerang for my boy.  I digress, but it was an awesome stop then, and again today.  As exhausted as we were, we really got some good time in today, finally having a beer at O'Brians by the hotel, and realizing we better have dinner soon, as we were fading fast.  We ended up at a nice steakhouse, ironically, no one had steak, but we did have Barramundi with fennel, which was great.  Also kangaroo carpaccio and cheese souffle to name a few.  Everything was delicious!

 Sydney Cup cakes say it all.  Melbourne Cup, Boo! and I <3 U!
Iceberg Pool, Bondi Beach
Salt water 50 M pool
Auzzie size splash in the pool.  Notice the PCA swim cap?  :-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Water Dog Park - The Dog - Mountain Biking in Belmont

Ray out on Water Dog Park Trail

This picture does not do this park justice.  It's an awesome little park, with lots of steeps, single track, challenging technical stuff.  No, I can not ride the whole thing without getting off in a few spots.  Yes, it seems innocuous at first.  A park behind suburbia.  You can just about see the whole thing from various vantage points in the hills.

Dropping in, almost immediately it's a grind, depending where you start.  We went around to the Ralston/Alemeda entrance, or just West and South of there.  I forget the names of the streets.  There are actually about 6-8 places to jump in.  This little park is well maintained, an incredible myriad of trails to chose from, but I don't think there are any choices where you won't get a serious ride of climbs, switchbacks, and just plain tight trails.  A full loop is probably only about an 8 mile loop, but it lends itself to doing figure 8's or any number of adaptations to get in a good length ride.  Even the 8 is worthy of a nice ride in and of itself.

Jib Jab
Dang.  For so long I have been trucking up to Marin to ride Mt Tam, with my buddies Chris and Matt.  It is riding paradise, and I really enjoy going with these guys.  Having said that, it is a haul.  For me to limit myself to riding there is nuts.  So, finally, after at least a year, I finally found Water Dog.  No, it's not Mt Tam, but yes, it's a blast!  And it's riding distance from my house.  On bike, I can be there in about 15 minutes.

This was one of two rides I did here with Ray.  I gotta comment on his attire.  Don't you love that shirt?  It's a crash dummy!  It has some silly tag on the back saying if found, put back on the trail or something.  I forget.  Oh Ray.  Heheheehe, even included a typo.  Yep, spelled cyclist with an s on the end.  Very funny.  That said, Ray is a great rider.  He rode my buns into the ground.  The first day was particularly difficult, and even the second, after a good rest, Ray powered up hills I couldn't and stayed on in the technical stuff when I would get off.  Still, it was fun, fun, fun, all the way around though.  So good to see my buddy after all these years, just hanging together and having fun.  He had new brakes and the discs were acting up, so we ended up at this other gem of Belmont.  Passion Trail Bikes.

Thanks, Ray
I know you planned me into your trip, which I really appreciate.  I hope you had as much fun as I did.  Our friendship lives on, and I felt completely rejuvenated on that front.  Ray, you are a special part of my life.

As you can see, my pictures were, well, limited.  We tried this one trail, that goes tight around the lake.  As it turns out, it wasn't a finished trail.  Ray and I went exploring anyways....  :-)

Passion Trail Bikes ***** (5 / 5 bikes)
Just like the name says.  Essentially, nice mountain bikes, parts, and accessories, and a huge shop, great people.  No kids bikes.  No road bikes.  No messing around.  You know how some quick auto lube shops have that little sitting area?  Passion does too.  And you can get a cappuccino (make your own) or you can pour yourself a delicious micro brew from Devil's Canyon Brewery, which is just a couple blocks away.  It's like a college house bachelor pad.   Yes, dirty dishes in the sink.  coffee grounds around the machine, couches looking extra worn, and a mini-fridge with a tap out the top.  Just pure enjoyment.  Such a treat.  So, we pull in here, late Saturday afternoon, after having rode Water Dog.  We basically needed to get Ray's bike brakes fixed within the hour, or he was going to have to deal with it in Thailand.  In every respect, our chances were a long shot.  Can you diagnose the problem?  Can we get credit for the defective parts Ray just put on in Colorado?  Do they have replacement parts? Could they work on the bike, essentially drop what they are doing? 

"Do you two want a beer?"
Yep, we explained the situation, and the guy was totally on the ball.  Understood the issue, immediately tested the bike, and had some ideas in his head.  So, yeah.  They were busy in the shop, but gave us tremendous support.  So, once he figured out what was what, he says- "So, do you guys want a beer?"  "yes"  "Blonde or Scotch?"  "Blonde, we have to ride home."  Hahahahhahaha!  Awesome!  Dude fixes Ray's bike on the spot.  We are sipping a delicious brew, and the next days' ride, Ray was so excited to be back on track.  Wow.  Full endorsement for Passion.  Great experience.  Really, one of those special moments when you are so happy to be a part of mankind.

This trail has some good references from Passion.  Also, the maps about online and on the trail.  In the end, Ray and I decided, staring at maps doesn't really help.  Just ride.  You can't get too far afoot.