Wednesday 4 April 2018
My youngest daughter, Kirstie, was participating in the track cycling at the Commonwealth games in Brisbane, Australia. After checking into the Emporium Hotel Sylvia had some work to do so I picked up Kirstie’s husband, Michael, and we headed over to the hotel the team was staying at for a quick catch up. That evening we drove down to the Gold Coast to the ANZ games headquarters, where they had a reception area set up for the families of athletes to gather. My other daughter, Victoria, and her husband, Leighton, joined us. There we watched the games opening ceremony. The place was rather badly set up and a little scruffy so we decided not to visit it again.
Sylvia’s sister, Lisa, her husband, Russell, and their daughters, Ella and Matariki, had arrived during the evening having driven the eight hours south from Rockhampton.
Thursday 5 April 2018
After brunch Sylvia and I headed to the Anna Meares Velodrome for the first cycling session of the games. With limited spectator room the others couldn’t get tickets so stayed at the hotel to watch it on a live feed. We had a little trouble getting through security as I had brought the big camera lens with me. The friendly people on security pointed out that only authorised professional photography people were allowed such big lenses. I pointed out that I was far from professional and only wanted to take photos of my daughter and her team; furthermore it wasn’t a really big lens. Up the chain the problem went… finally a guy turned up explaining that “these are the friendly games”. He took a photo of our tickets and the camera, sent it through to someone telling us we may get a visit from someone and let us in. We never got a visit and I respected their leniency by only photographing the team.
In the centre of the track we watched as athletes warmed up and then were lead to the track ,each race starting bang on time. We watched with excitement as Rushlee, Racquel, Bryony and Kirstie warmed up for their women’s team pursuit race.
Finally the race was underway with each of the teams racing on the track on their own. The top two times will race off for gold and silver and the next two for bronze.
The NZ team is near the end of the eliminations and make an excellent time allowing them a place in the gold-silver final.
The session is over and as Kirstie is through to the final we are entitled to two family tickets for the evening session. We have also managed to source another ticket from a friend. Victoria, Leighton and Micheal meet at the ticket box to collect the two tickets and it seems in no time we are back in the velodrome watching the evening’s final events. Victoria and Leighton are seated across the other side of the velodrome.
Finally the girls are up for the final. Beaten by the Australians they receive the silver medal. The medal ceremony is straight after their race with no time to warm down before getting into their track suits and onto the podium. The Duchess of Wales, Camilla, hands out the medals to the twelve excited woman on the podium receiving Bronze Silver and Gold.
The evening over we headed back to the hotel. There was to be no celebrating for Kirstie that night as she was racing again the next day in the individual pursuit.
Friday 6 April 2018
it was only announced a few weeks ago that Kirstie was also racing in the Individual Pursuit and the Scratch race at the games. These events are not held at the Olympic Games so there is no emphasis by Bike NZ to train for them. Kirstie had raced in this event in Amsterdam at the world champs a few weeks earlier. The Australians had not attended the world champs so they could focus on the Com Games. We were unable to get tickets to this this event as they sold out last year. We sat in the hotel room with a computer hooked up to the TV and watched the afternoon events live. Right up to the last heat (two riders in each heat with individual times counting for the finals) Kirstie’s time put her third. Then in the final heat a Scottish and Australian woman both posted really fast times pushing her to fifth place. Having knocked 4.6 seconds off her previous best time she was still pretty pleased.
In the evening we picked Kirstie up from her hotel and headed to a local restaurant for dinner. Kirstie brought her medal along, which caused great excitement amongst the staff and customers.
Saturday 7 April 2018
Lisa and family, Sylvia, Michael and I headed out to Coloundra for a stroll along the beach. It is a very scenic spot with white sand, holiday homes and well landscaped areas along the waters edge. Hundreds of swimmers were crammed between the flags, which were a mere 50-meters apart, as life guards yelled and waved at anyone who dared stray outside the mark. From the shore we could see fairly strong rips on either side.
As we strolled back to the car 20-plus kite surfers raced back and forth in the distant waves.
We took a drive up Fortitude Valley to a lookout where we could see a number of volcanic plugs which had turned into small hills as the surrounding soil had eroded away over a few million years.
In the evening we all (apart from Kirstie who has one more race) met at a local Japanese restaurant for a meal and a few drinks.
Sunday 7 April 2018
Lisa and family set off for the long drive back to Rockhampton having had a fairly late night with Victoria and Leighton who stuck around for a few more drinks after dinner.
After a relaxing morning and a brief catch up with Kirstie I headed to the airport.
That evening Kirstie raced in the scratch race. As it was a final we were able to get two family tickets plus we managed to purchase some spare ones one of the parents had. Michael, Victoria, Leighton and Sylvia were able to attend the race. Twenty four riders set off from the start line and jostled for position. Its a game of tactics, strength and speed. Kirstie managed to come in fifth. It was her last event of the games and the next day she moved to the the games village on the Gold Coast to join the other athletes and enjoy the rest of the games.
Sylvia headed to Hong Kong at midnight; the others headed back to NZ the next day.
Monday 8 April 2018
My friend Todd was out from Texas,teaching some long range shooting in the central north island. Battling snow and rain we still managed to get in some good shooting and learn a lot over the next four days.
Wednesday 18 April 2018
After spending a few days at home in Auckland we arrived in Shanghai yesterday. It’s a clear day here with blue skies above the smog. Visibility from the 57th floor of the Shangri-La is the best I have seen it.
Mid-morning I caught the metro down to the Bund. The train was packed and ads played on the tunnel walls as the train sped along – not quite sure how they do it as the ads seems to stay still.
Exiting the metro station a woman approaches holding a small brochure, “come with me, I have good price on watch.” I respond with a firm “no thanks!” “Where are you from?” “Antarctica” I say. “Very nice country, I want to go there!” Then out come the cards with partially clad women. “You want massage?” “No thanks” I reply again. “Have you been to Shanghai before?” I delight in my response, “six times”. Her face drops and she moves off to try another sucker.
Arriving at the Bund it is a hive of activity as usual. The buildings across the Huangpu River stand out in the almost clear sky, not as usual.
I turned left, heading down the river and soon was pushed away from the river by buildings that seemed to own the land up to the riverbank. There is a real contrast of buildings in Shanghai with old, low-rise buildings still surviving amongst the sky scrapers. Eventually I found a park that lead back to the river and a recently constructed walking, running and bike track, which runs about six km alongside the river. Combined with parks, marinas and nice gardens it is well worth a visit. At one point the path runs alongside what I think is a water treatment plant surrounded by old style attractive brick walls with security cameras mounted at twenty meter intervals. Old, low railway wagons have been turned into flower gardens. Hundreds of barges and bigger ships navigate up and down the river; at times it looks like barge racing as several well laden barges head side by side up stream.
The path runs out abruptly at the Yangpu Suspension Bridge. Rather than head back I made my way out through a gap in a fence which lead to a yard; the security guard was too busy browsing his phone to notice me. Every yard, office or building around here has a gate and security guards, most of them engaged in browsing their phones. One semi-alert chap wouldn’t let me take a photo of an unusual statue I could see from the gate. He didn’t realise that as I lifted the camera to point and ask, I already had the photo.
The streets and buildings were pretty old and rough around here as I was once again pushed away from the river. Opposite the river side of the road was mainly housing with shops on the ground floor. On the river side it was quite industrial with large factories, an electricity plant and the Shanghai Fashion Centre. A little further along there is a refurbished industrial area hosting mainly fashion shops and a few cafe’s. I stopped at the Starbucks for a brew, knowing it was going to be a bad one and I was not disappointed – these guys are consistent all over the world.
From here I headed parallel to the river, past a university and lots of gated, maybe education and industrial places. In one area they are upgrading the footpaths and motorbike paths. I stopped to look at a guy laying some pavers and a silent electric scooter ran gently into my left leg. One has to be quite careful of these silent machines here as they’re not in the business of giving way to pedestrians. As per normal hundreds of hire bicycles lined the streets near factories and bus stops. At about 20km I spotted one unlocked and was a little tempted to borrow it. I passed an electric car station that looked as if you could leave your car there overnight to get it charged as the multi-storey part was empty..
Eventually Google maps took me down an ally to where a ferry waited at a wharf. With seconds to spare and a bit of sign language I just got on it as it departed to play dodgems with all the other boats to get to the other side. A narrow road ran parallel to the river with at times no footpath. On the riverside there is a combination of industrial yards stocking everything from steel to sand. On the other side of the road were mainly houses and crops; some houses quite good and others pretty rough. About 6kms up this road another ferry took me back across the river, just as the river started to widen out as it meets the Yangtze River.