and long steady hills that make Bill, THE Hill Taskmaster, very happy. He loves to ride the Oatley Park hills and has been doing so for years.
Three rides this week, two of the usual Five Dock circuit and one with Gen and Bill at Oatley Park. I've taken Catherine's warning about preparing for the hills in the Dordogne seriously, so persuaded THE Coach to drive over to Mortdale with our bikes to cycle with Bill and Gen on their regular morning ride.
My goodness they will be in good shape for the Dordogne. After our ride of four times round the Oatley Park circuit, THE Coach insisted that we make the most of the beautiful day by riding on to Como for a look at the railway bridge.
It was a strenuously rewarding ride, all 28 kms. I'm going to ignore THE Hill Taskmaster's parting comment that really "It was only a 14km ride today because the other 14 kms were coasting downhill".
Even though I rode again this morning, my legs are still feeling those Oatley Park hills, a day later! Oh dear, I know what THE Coach will say...
Yesterday THE Coach and I set out on a 40 km ride with Bill and Gen to The Armory Cafe at Newington on the edge of Olympic Park. I guess it was a surprise reward ride. THE Coach rode with us for the entire distance, and we stopped for coffee and raisin toast - well that was my order, so it appeared to meet the criteria of a reward ride.
It was a perfect day for cycling- we weren't alone in our thinking. Homebush was crawling with cyclists of all descriptions.
Although the ride is mostly through the suburban back streets of Five Dock, Abbotsford, Concord and Rhodes, it is quite varied as the on road cyclepath also winds through streets of factories and runs along the river - in parts it is quite picturesque.
When we finished Gen and Bill stopped in for a cuppa to "talk cycling in France". We poured over travel guides and maps as we began to make more detailed plans for the cycling leg of our trip.
Since I blogged a few weeks ago, some blog readers have requested our itinerary. We are using the cycling company Cyclomundo and so far they've been great. We've planned a self-guided group tour of the Dordogne and Lot districts.
Day 1Arrive in Souillac and transfer to stay overnight in Sarlat.
Day 2 Cycle from Sarlat to Montignac (25kms)
Day 3 Cycle from Montignac to Les Eyzies (26kms)
Day 4 Cycle from LesEyzies to Monpazier (40kms)
Day5 Cycle from Monpazier to Sarlat (53 kms)
Day 6 Cycle Sarlat environs.
Day 7 Cycle from Sarlat to Rocamadour (54 Kms)
Day 8 Cycle from Rocamadour to Labastide-Murat (30 kms)
Day 9 Cycle from Labastide-Murat to Vers (28Kms)
Day 10 Cycle from Vers to Cahors (15km)
Day 11 Train from Cahors to Paris.
We'd love any and all suggestions for 'must see' spots in this southern part of the Dordogne. Thanks to Anne for the email with details about caves worth a look and to Catherine for tips about unmissable lunch stops.
ALL suggestions will be greeted with delight.
We spent Easter with friends staying in a beautiful country home, between the towns of Blayney and Orange in western NSW.
The weather was glorious and this part of the country was looking its best after some much needed rain. Who could blame THE Coach for taking off every morning to ride with some very keen cyclists along empty country roads, through dazzling green fields, past pretty country villages and best of all, up some long steady hills?
Yes, THE Coach was in heaven as he rode with Richard, Anne, Kate, Catherine, Julie-Anne and occasionally, his trainee Jenny, along the country roads around Blayney and Millthorpe.
Luckily, while THE Coach was out pedaling furiously up and down as many hills as he could find, I enjoyed some lovely rides with Anne and Catherine, who kindly kept me company at the back of the pack. Although the rides were some of the longest that I've done (38kms around Blayney and 42 kms into Orange), we also made time to drink coffee, eat lots of Anne's delicious home cooked biscuits and taste some wine with Melissa at the Philip Shaw vineyard just outside Orange.
So, although THE Coach was consumed with riding fast, up as many hills as he could find, he encouraged his trainee with reward cups of coffee and the odd encouraging remark - "Good to see you've finally arrived" - words of encouragement from himself as I hauled myself off the bike at the Union Bank Cafe.
We loved visiting Orange, Millthorpe and Blayney. Cycling in the morning and then eating out - lunch at Tonic in Millthorpe on Saturday, follow by lunch at The Union Bank on Easter Sunday.
We still managed to feast again on Sunday night as our most generous hosts, Anne and Richard, prepared a delicious roast dinner, followed by a very moreish apple crumble.
I've said it before - there is only ONE Coach. His ruthless coaching methods are working as I've now cycled similar distances to those we'll be doing in France.
Admittedly, I'm lacking considerable stamina, but there are still many months to go. Thanks to THE Coach, I'm still on my bike and enjoying the riding more than ever.
Cycling round Orange was sensational. Catherine, Mary and Julie-Anne assure us that the Dordogne will be even more delightful. Hard to believe after such a fantastic weekend!!! Thanks Catherine, Richard and Anne.
July 2010 "Lunch in Paris". The recipes look good but the story - completely forgetable and that's possibly erring on kindness.
June 2010 "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin. A touchingly beautiful story of Ellis Lacey, a young Irish girl sent to New York in the early 1950s to escape poverty and islolation. As she overcomes terrible homesickness, gradually develops confidence in herself and begins to fall in love she is called back to Ireland for a family emergency. A book I didn't want to end.
June 2010 "Feeling sorry for Celia" by Jaclyn Moriarty. Another YA novel but this time its a conventional story about friendship, growing up and first love. What else can I say...
May 2010 "Liar" by Justine Larbalestier. Although this is a novel for young adults I found it un-put-down-able. Hard to describe because it breaks so many writing conventions. The narrator is unreliable. She's a self confessed liar. Left me puzzling about the book for days. Highly recommended.
May 2010 "Saffy's angel" by Hilary McKay. A sweet story for young teenagers. Saffy never feels that she quite belongs and sure enough she discovers she's been adopted. Off to Italy she goes in search of her story.
May 2010 “Big fat Manifesto” by Susan Vaught. Jamie is a talented student writer who’s ambition is enter a prestigious university. Her aim is to write a prize winning feature article series about a controversial topic – teenage obesity. Jamie is the ideal investigative journalist – she is obese and her column “Fat girl” is personal perspective on the social injustices she faces as an overweight teenager. Although I found Jamie's voice clear and honest, I couldn't quite believe the romance that develops between Jamie and the handsome, dry witted editor of the student paper.
April 2010. "The behaviour of moths" by Poppy Adams. Too many moths for my liking. An atmospheric setting – a crumbling, gothic mansion where the reclusive Ginny lived alone since her parents died and her younger sister left home. So why does the vivacious Vivien return after 47 years? Like AS Byatt’s “The Children’s Book” the contextual information detracted from what could have been an intriguing tale of mystery and murder.
April 2010. "Things to make and mend" by Ruth Thomas. The cover and format of this little book entrapped me. Unfortunately it was a very light story about two women who fell out over a boy during their teenage years, but who meet up in later life. Forgetable - don't bother.
April 2010. "The boy in the dress" by David Walliams. Yes, he is also the writer and star of "Little Britain" and this short YA novel is infused with his humorous voice. Dennis discovers that life is not boring when the girl you fancy dresses you up in her frock and takes you to her French class as a visiting student. Of course the disguise doesn't last and life becomes very interesting for Denise/ Dennis.
March 2010. "The piper's son" by Melina Marchetta. YA novel by popular Australian author. Tom's family has fragmented after shocking death of his much loved Uncle in the London tube bombing. Although at times melodramatic, I enjoyed this modern family saga. Easy to visualise the characters and setting as it features the streets of Petersham and Leichhardt. Worth reading if you enjoyed "Looking for Ailbrandi".