Tuesday, November 07, 2006


"Wheelie wild and woolly"

Well, we're back from the Gong Ride and we made it... despite the weather! On the bright side, it only rained on us the last 6km. But the southerly winds (sometimes gusting up to around 70kph) made for rather insane riding the last 40 or so km down the coast into Wollongong. The bit that we were looking forward to for the coastline scenery! At one point Cait and I just laughed and shook our heads and said 'This is insane!' At least there were around 10,000 other crazies doing it, so we weren't alone.

Anyway, I'll be writing up the bike part of it in the bike blog. Sometime this week!

We also survived staying with the relatives... which in some ways was as much of a challenge as the ride itself - mentally, at any rate.

We'd decided to impose ourselves on my sister this time. (After all, they stayed with us for a whole week at Christmas).. and although my brother in law is a major fuss bum (anal-retentive type) in his own house, we felt that for many reasons (not the least being the topography of their house/garage/car parking being flat and close, unlike my parents' place) it was time to have a go of staying there. Warned my sister we'd need to get the girls to bed early.. and that we'd arrive at around lunchtime so the cousins could spend enough time together.

Leading up to the weekend, she emailed me, suggesting they get pizza for dinner. Pizza wasn't the most ideal thing for us to eat the night before riding, so I offered to bring down some spag bol. She then got a bit uptight that I might have thought she couldn't make spag bol... (I said that I couldn't very well say 'I don't want pizza, I want you to cook!!'). She said she'd considered a BBQ.. and I said 'that's fine, it was just the pizza issue...'

So then.. of course.. she turned it into a bigger than Ben Hur type production. She had thought she wouldn't have mum and dad come up as well because it would be harder to get the kids to bed... but then they did come. And she had prawns and calamari entree (on the BBQ)... and then sausages and steak. And fruit salad for dessert. And my brother-in-law is a fiffer and a faffer, and, as usually happens, seems to expect her to do everything, including tell him how long to cook things on the BBQ, as well as organise all the other part of the meal.... and of course, time got away and it all ended up being later than was ideal.

And because I brought out Lisa's laptop (it has a wireless broadband connection) - to show Dad something - my brother in law got the shits with Lisa because she was talking to Marc a few times about Computers, and he has this verging-on-Luddite loathing for Computers and resents any time Lisa spends doing stuff on Them (never mind that she earns money doing bookkeeping on them).. or even talking about Them.

The fact that I brought it out to the table, not Lisa, didn't seem to rate. Nor the fact that in doing so I discovered that the wireless connection only worked if it was plugged into the power!!! Crazy. So Marc stuffed around for a bit solving that problem. (You'd think Brother in Law would be appreciative, but he just had the shits - with Lisa- which he exhibited by trading more than the usual amount of insults - with Lisa! - Which is always part of the "entertainment package that is them.. always a bit uncomfortable for the spectators... and this time even more so.)

So of course, with dinner ending up late, it was after 10.00 by the time we got the kids into bed. And so of course, we didn't get to bed as early as would have been sensible either.

With Dad having offered to do the car shuffle for us (by catching the train to St Peters (where we left it).. driving it to Wollongong, and catching the train home again), Mum therefore ended up going as well, so therefore got involved in the whole thing... including incessant phone messages to us during the day. "Where are you? When do you think you'll get here?" - at which point we were out of mobile range down in the national park - but that didn't stop her trying.

When we got back into range, I rang her quickly (while we were waiting to be let down a particularly steep hill) and instead of quickly telling me where the car was, she had to have a chat, and say 'So it's really tough.'.. and when I said (at that point) "We're doing ok".. she said "Oh...Everyone who's come in so far looks exhausted." She sounded almost disappointed that I wasn't sounding shattered and regretful that we had decided to do it.

To be fair, we had the worst part into the headwinds to come.. but I didn't need the .. commentary.. with the overtones of disapproval for us dragging the kids through it. That's what it is... it's not overt.. but it's there - always there. Should have heard her last year when we decided to do the 50km Spring Cycle. And then the Big Ride!! - even Dad told us last year he thought it was too hard for the kids; at least I was able to tell him that it was our call, and our judgement, not his! (Couldn't say that to mum without her getting all hoity-toity.)

After we successfully completed both those, and didn't manage to kill the children in the process, they have, at least, learned to shut up about it. Overtly. And this time they decided, thankfully, to go catch a train home before we finished. Thank god.. didn't need the carry on about the poor children being wet, etc.... Yeah, sure it was wet. We got wet. But we had the gear. .. thermals are wonderful things! And bike spray jackets. So they weren't going to get hypothermia! (Unlike the only time I ever got taken to the Snow as a kid, but that's tangent I don't need to take here.. maybe some other time !!)

To cap things off.. after finishing (and it was raining by then).. we rocked up to the 'leisure resort' where I'd booked a cabin, only to find out that it was a rip off... The $135 cabin to sleep 5 0r 6 (instead of $89 for 4) had as its 5th and 6th person "bedding" just a corner lounge. (Not even a sofa bed). An extra $45 for that?!! We spat it, and took the refund they then offered. And decided we had no better option than to ring my folks and ask if we could drive back up to Sydney and stay there. That's family for you. You whinge about them, but don't hesitate to make use of them. (Well, I do hesitate, often, but there usually isn't much of an alternative.. as they'd be offended if you didn't! And it was the most logical thing to do.)

So I survived the unplanned extra night with Mum.. She didn't make any comments, but, because Zoe was pretty damn tired, and struggling to finish dinner, Mum jumped up to make her bed up (before I could) with the obvious insinuation that we had dragged Zoe through something too tough for her to handle., and I was not being caring enough.

As Marc said later, Zoe wouldn't have been quite so stuffed if we'd been able to get her into bed earlier the night before. (Funny how when the fortnight before when we'd stayed there without mum and dad, and could control things, we had them all in bed by about 8.30!)

She also said to me that I looked really tired.. and I said, yes, well, I am, but it's mainly feeling windblown, and physically, I did it easy. (So shut up, eh...)

Plus, you know... despite it all looking incredibly insane, and difficult... it's not actually something me, or the kids can't cope with. I'd like to think that by doing this sort of crazy stuff with us, our kids are learning (much earlier than I did) that you can cope with a lot more than you often think you can. Falling into bed totally stuffed, physically, isn't going to kill you! - in fact, it's a fantastic feeling!

Not that my mum would agree.. because she's ever experienced it. But then... that's her.. and I am me.. and we are us.

And today, I have a truckload of washing to get through (3 loads done and on the line.. 4th load ready to hang, and then I need to make a trip into town for a few things.) Marc left early for a one night away field trip... and he leaves on Sunday for probably 2 weeks in Malaysia. I suppose we have now had our "quality time" together with these two mad bike riding trips.

Back to the planning room for the next adventures of Team Schmidt.


Does your mother think maybe you should be expected to look like you've just come from a day spa? It's not a lap around the block, of course you would look tired.
Who knows... If I didn't look tired, it would mean I hadn't 'put in', and my stoker (ie. Caitlin on the back) would have the right to be a bit cheesed!

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