• Tour Down Under 2010

    View Woodside to Goolwa in a larger map

    Today I joined around 8,000 fellow cyclists in the Mutual Community Challenge Tour – riding 111km along part of the same route that the professionals took later in the day. The full route started at Norwood, but owing to my limited preparation we started with the majority of riders at Woodside.

    This year I was once again riding with my Dad and the rest of the Mud, Sweat and Gears team.

    This year was different for a number of reasons – most significantly it was the first year that BicycleSA weren’t responsible for organising the ride, and boy was that obvious (in a bad way).

    First of all, there was the jersey size debacle. There appear to have been hundreds of complaints already that the same “size” is way larger than last year.

    Riders leaving WoodsideAround 5,000 of the total riders started at Woodside.

    • Car parking was a joke.
    • Everyone had to squeeze through 2 “gates” to sign in. Talk about bottlenecks!

    Strathalbyn was the major drink and food stop.. except there was no food! Poor planning. It should have all been delivered by the night before. Apparently it did turn up later in the morning – but too late for us and the hundreds of others who’d already been and gone.

    Milang drink stop only had about 4 water taps running off one hose, whose pressure was pitiful (they should have had a water tanker provide water).

    Goolwa finish was at the footy oval which at least was a suitable size to deal with the crowd, except:

    • Poor signing and poor directions – took ages to find the ‘cloakroom’ to pick up our bag
    • I felt sorry for the guy singing and playing guitar who was being drowned out by commercial radio on a separate PA.

    At least we got our lunch ok.

    The other problem that I remembered also happened in Angaston last year – the mobile phone network becomes useless. The organisers really need to get the phone companies to bring in temporary towers to provide extra coverage.

    So apart from a bit of grumbling, we finished our ride in good time (though that wind was pretty nasty).

    Here’s a few photos from the end of the day:

    Riders and support cars approaching finish line

    The crowds watch on as the riders and support teams in the professional race approach the finish line at Goolwa.

    Packing up the bike

    Packing up the bike. Looks like that daughter of mine is using her powers of levitation!

    Also note that baggy jersey.

    That’s my new bike by the way. You may recall my old bike met with a slight accident after last year’s event.

    I’m now riding a Cannondale CAAD7 with an Ultegra group set.

    Riding home

    Driving back to Adelaide, we saw this guy.  He must be fit.

  • Hardware planning

    As my time at Viterra/ABB Grain is rapidly drawing to a close (more about that later), I’ve started to think about what would be useful (if not essential) for the next stage in my career (more about that later too!).

    I think a laptop might be a useful tool. For the last couple of CodeCampSA events, I’ve borrowed my Mum’s Toshiba. It’s quite a nice machine, but I don’t think she’d be too keen on lending it to me all the time! I don’t know much about various models, but if I could manage to fit an SSD into the budget then I hear that can make a big difference.

    For a while now I’ve also wanted to get up to speed with Hyper-V. The only thing preventing me has been access to suitable hardware. When Ben (the Virtual PC Guy) published the specs of the server he runs at home my eyes lit up, as it seems pretty similar to what I would like to achieve. Specifically

    • Hosting Windows Home Server
    • Running up VMs to run various server environments – particular different versions of SQL Server.

    Finally if there was any room left in the budget, I’d really like to upgrade my main desktop machine too – it must be a joy to develop on machine like Scott Hanselman’s.

    Still, while my existing desktop is is an aging old box, it does the job and manages to run Windows 7 pretty well. One advantage of getting the Hyper-V server up and running would be that I could just RDP from my old box to a VM instead.

  • Two cool Christmas presents

    Christmas has always been a special time for me, and now it’s also special for the kids too. This year my sister generously bought me a new car… Super Grover in his convertible car Pretty neat huh? Carson got given this electronic robot. Electronic robot It came as a kit, which meant I had to pull out my trusty old soldering iron and solder all the components onto the PCB then assembly all the gearbox bits. I seem to recall my success rate for soldering electronic kits wasn’t very good, but I’m pleased to report I managed to get this one working first time. Probably a good thing as I would have no idea how to fix it if it hadn’t worked! When you turn it on, it runs around the floor, and changes direction when the IR sensors detect an object in the way. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.