Wednesday, October 25, 2006


One trip down, one to go...

(... well, till Christmas anyway...)

Back from our mad 1000km return trip to Sydney - for a 50km bike ride! Trying not to think of the greenhouse gases produced in order to participate in an event that is essentially promoting a non-Greenhouse gas producing pastime.

It was fun, especially because this year we caught up with a whole pile of other tandem riders that we met on the Big Ride. 50km was a snack (the only hard part was avoiding all the other riders.. many of whom are a bit erratic.) I think it's the car travel that makes you more tired than the bike riding. And the 'fun things' that happen along the way.

I'll be writing up the ride on my biking blog. Sometime this week. When I find the energy. (I seem to have lost a bit of blogging enthusiasm amidst the sea of laundry and gear I should be putting away.) Might double up on some stuff. Meantime there were a few 'highlights' to the trip worth sharing..

Unsurprisingly, we (meaning me and the kids) weren't really packed on Friday... what with Zoe's birthday, and swimming lessons for 3 of us from 3.30 till 6.30. Fortunately Cait had got over her 'unreasonableness' (for the time being), and she stayed home and made a cake for Zoe.

Marc pulled into the driveway behind us, at around 7pm (good timing, wot!) and we whizzed up a 'Zoe's choice' birthday dinner - of BBQ sausages, pasta, and 'salad with avocado in it' (which was the choice if I didn't have sugar snap peas!! - turns out, I discovered only last night, she is confused between sugar snaps, snow peas, and beans - and I could have given her snow peas, but anyway, avocado is a big favourite, so that was ok.)

Needless to say it was getting late, and noone had packed.. and we were hoping to get away around 8.30 in the morning! Sent them upstairs with a typed-up packing list, thinking that shouldn't be too hard for kids who are getting pretty used to packing for themselves. We have had the odd thing forgotten before, but I thought the typed list should cover that. I thought that was pretty clever of me, actually. Hmmm. Didn't count on the priority suddenly being given to getting music onto mp3 players - especially music from Zoe's new birthday CD. And the fact that Caitlin wanted to locate the second CD walkman (which appeared to be in hiding somewhere and still hasn't been found) so that she could listen to a CD of a Dr Who story someone had lent her.

They were finally sent to bed with orders to 'finish packing in the morning'.

I was probably asking too much of Zoe (especially on top of the distraction of all the new birthday presents) - so I had to pretty much do her bag for her in the morning. She'd been told a few times though, that it was up to her to make sure she had everything she needed for the car ride itself. Thought the other two should be sorted though.

We headed off around 9.00, which wasn't too bad, all things considered. Stopped at Coffs for petrol... and thought we were cruising. Realised that Zoe forgot to pack the earphones for the walkman. Last trip away she took the walkman and forgot to take any cds. This time she was armed with a new cd case for her birthday, so had cds, and a walkman, but had no way of listening to them unless she borrowed someone else's earphones. Then they realised the batteries had also died. Caitlin was also complaining for most of the trip that her earphones were dodgy, one ear would only work intermittently. Happy days... Maybe one trip everyone is going to be prepared, and cocooned in their own little world of the music of their choice, without bothering us in the front!!!

Stopped at Port for lunch (at the dreaded Maccas.. which I'm getting a bit 'over' these days)... and Marc realised that the aluminium extension to the bike carrier rack that has carried the green tandem over many kms (but mostly on the roof rack) had sheared through. The trailer suspension was obviously way too hard. Couldn't cope. Problem. No drill, no bolts... This was a job for Super Field Technician. (Lucky that's part of his job description - well, just one of the expectations of his job - troubleshooting fix-its in the field when you don't necessarily have every tool you could wish for.) We detoured into Port to Bunnings. He bought another bit of wood to slide under the back end of the rack - and lashed it on with rope. And a bit of gal pipe to lie along the aluminium, (and the join) - and taped that on with duct tape. My man. He is very clever. The jaws that clamped the downtube of the triplet had also fallen off!! (They have a problem too.. the 'padding' inside the jaws was wearing off.. and had actually scratched the paintwork on the bike - through some foam padding that didn't work. Eep. So, more padding with rags for that part on both bikes.. and taping them up a bit with good old electrical tape.)

While he was completing the fixit- job, the girls were mucking around in the car, and Alison realised that Zoe (who was wearing a short denim skirt) HAD NO UNDIES ON !!! (And she has just been down a slide in the playground in the hardware store - where there were boys!) We were all flabbergasted. She is now 8 - and she forgot to put undies on. With a skirt. And it didn't occur to her at any point that she had no undies on. With a skirt. No, I didn't think that that was something I needed to check on anymore. Lucky we were travelling away, so she at least had a pair to put on, and we set off again, still shaking our heads about that, and checking every 5 minutes on the bikes.

The patch up job had extended the travelling time, and I was really starting to stress about the arrangements I'd made with my sister to go to a children's art show at my nephew's school - (with his artwork in it of course). Couldn't see how we'd get showered and dinnered at my parent's place, out to the show, and back in bed at a decent time. Contacted her and she was able to pass on the tickets to some other relos, so we skipped that. At my parent's place we had to move a car out of the carport.. back the trailer up their driveway (only possible because of having the 4WD and he could engage low range) - while I propped up the branches of a tree that overhung the driveway. Mum and Dad were away, so we had the house to ourselves. Ate spag bol that I'd brought, and got everyone, including myself, into bed at a reasonable time.

Up at 5.30. (I always go through this 'why am I here and getting up at this insane time' feeling, which lasts till I get going and have a good time... I will just never ever be a 'morning person'.) We were aiming to leave by 6.30. Doing ok... till Alison approaches me. Borderline tears. "Mum. I've accidentally got two left shoes." (New joggers = same as old joggers, only a size bigger. Old joggers = not been thrown out yet, don't ask me why, just slack. - In her 'hurry' to pack (and organise her mp3s) she has picked up one of the old shoes. It couldn't have been an old one, but the other foot, would it?!)

Shit. (Probably said worse than "shit", actually.)

What the HELL are we going to do about this? Can't take the kid on a ride in thongs. Can't make her wear a left shoe on the right foot.

*Thinking... thinking....* OK. What if...? Caitlin wears my joggers. (I wear bike shoes to ride). And Alison wears Cait's shoes. *hold breath.*.Will Cait agree?... yes. Uh-oh.. not so fast. I wear orthotics, so I cut my inner sole, so only the front bit of it is in my shoes. Pretty uncomfortable for someone else to wear my shoes like that. Cait takes her inner soles from her shoes (after all, it's Alison's problem,...) Alison can put in one inner sole, but then of course then has the two left inner sole problem. She ends up cutting up the old one, and wearing double socks. Or something. We left her to it with instructions not to complain. It didn't seem to stop her running around (at the finish).. She just now has to contend with Caitlin saying "You owe me" for the rest of her life. (And believe me, that is the case, although this morning Alison has belatedly remembered a time when Caitlin accidentally took one of Alison's shoes to school - to change into for netball)... and Alison had to go to school in one of Cait's and one of hers, and I had to chase Cait up at school, and do a swap! - yes, seems we Schmidts have issues with shoes!)

After all that we made the start for our 8am meeting time.. after one of our famous navigational spats.. where I failed to deciper the on and off ramps of the expressway at North Sydney in the street directory when under pressure from the Driver. Last year he followed his nose, and got us there. This year he insists I figure out where to go from the street directory.. questions my call when I make it.. so I say ' ah.. oh... maybe not, I can't actually SEE where Alfred St is - if you think that's the more northerly off-ramp, then maybe there's one more'.. But there wasn't and we end up making an unnecessary (and toll paying) crossing of the Harbour Bridge. (We did get to see all the other bikes who had already started riding over the bridge, including a unicycle!!)

Same parking as last year, no worries. Getting everything sorted, and along comes one of the tandem riders from the Big Ride that we were arranging to meet at the start. This time his wife is with them on her single bike. She rolls up, looks at Marc, and says "I know you!" When she took her sunnies off, he recognised her. She knew both of us from working on the Sport and Rec camps, .. way back. (I had met Marc through the Sport & Rec camps.) I am struggling to remember her specifically - but then again I DIDN'T GO OUT WITH HER ONCE like he did. Apparently! LOL.

Small world. He is still pretty freaked about that coincidence, though.

So the ride went well... and we caught up with another family at the finish. And Marc caught the train back to North Sydney to get the car no worries... and we got back to Nana's (Marc's mum) at Tea Gardens for dinner. I'd had grand plans of getting away on Monday morning in time to make my 1.30pm swimming class, but I didn't have the heart to wake everyone up early. (Including myself.) Caitlin got STROPPY when the other two woke her up with their giggling and stuff (at around 8 am mind you!)... and immediately called in the 'You Owe Me' line, which Alison naturally rejected but also decided was reason to be more annoying . So Alison got a serve (for being annoying, but at least she hangs her head and doesn't answer back.) We spent about 15 mins with Caitlin, doing the 'what is reasonable' talk.. and the 'let it go - exactly how long are you going to milk this for?' talk (especially when Alison HAS been given a talking to, and what do you want me to do, ring the police and get her arrested or what?) ... and the 'don't ruin a good deed by attaching price tags to it' talk.

As it turns out, even if we'd left by 8.00, I might have had problems getting to swimming. The trip was going ok, though Marc was still paranoid about how the bikes were faring on the trailer. At Kempsey, I took over the driving (boosted by the caffeine ingestion from the 'tall' cappuccino takeaway I'd brought with me from lunch.) He promptly went to sleep (as he always does when I drive, because the only time he doesn't drive is when he's too tired - and possibly he can't handle being aware of my driving.) I was under instructions to keep an eye on the bikes through the rear vision mirror. I was .. indeed I was. When I didn't have my eyes glued to the road, especially through some of the more notorious stretches of the Pacific Highway south of Urunga. At one point I'd woken him up to ask for his judgement on the bikes.. and whether the wheel wobbling was within the 'ok' parameter. He'd said yes, and dropped off again.

Just as we were coming into Urunga, (and I'd only just checked again), he woke up.. looked around, and then let forth with a curse. One of the aluminium struts he'd bolted on to each bike had sheared through. Of course the one from the Triplet. Couldn't I see the strut wasn't there? (Trust me, a minute ago it had been!!).... *sighs... why does this always happen to me?*

So, a prolonged stop at Urunga while he had to come up with a way of tying down the triplet.. by untying the lashings, using one rope for 2 sides for that, thereby freeing up a rope.

Needless to say he drove the rest of the way, and would have spent the whole time thinking about how to get the bikes back up on the roof racks again... where there is not such a force imposed on the bikes as there is bouncing around on an unloaded trailer.

And we had more of the 'you owe me' crap, over lending of earphones, the complexity of which is too daunting to go into even here.. but which summarises as Caitlin being manipulative, and doing the 'every good turn deserves payback even if you don't realise it at the time' thing. Which is all quite exhausting from a 'how the hell do I deal with THIS one' parenting point of view.

Within half an hour of getting home, I was driving Cait back into town for netball training... and shopping for something for dinner. Marc then headed off for Touch. And.. hey ho... we were home and back into the week.

And we're going to do it all again in a fortnight!! Well, more or less. We're riding the bikes nearly twice as far, and the Monday we'll be driving twice the distance home. I'll need twice as long to get over it.
OH, Zoe minus the undies. I SO have a story that parallels with that it's scary.

Singularly the most embarrasing moment of my life.
Sounds like a lot of work - I mean - fun! Fun...I meant Fun. Really.

Much like yours, my husband can fix anything - usually with silver 'duct' tape and baling wire.

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