Sunday, 31 October 2010

Friday photos

Heck - just realised that I haven't put up any photos for a few days.

Here we go - the Pyrmont bike lane is closed - yet again - for some mysterious reason. It seems to have been closed more often that it's been open since it was opened for business. And yes, we are blasting through a "red" cycle icon. It's so rare that a car turns here that so long as you are sensible (ie, you look before crossing), you just zip across and ignore it.

A line of bikes trudging up towards the Harlequin Hotel.

A wet morning - I forget which. It wasn't wet enough to really require cold or wet weather gear. Spring is definitely here.

Heading home. Some wear bike shoes with cleats, others wear something like the KT-26 and open pedals.

Lotsa bikes - mainly across the road. The lady in yellow on my left was so slow, I was almost collected by a car!

You rarely see cyclists in purple (the camera has made it look pink, but it was closer to purple) - yet right in front of her was another purple clad cyclist (my camera had a fit at that point and refused to photograph her).

And that was last week.

"mobilising the power of humanity"

"mobilising the power of humanity" - that's a phrase used in a speech last year by Robert Tickner, CEO of the Australian Red Cross.

Since I have libertarian tendencies, I favour the Burkean "little platoons" approach to getting things done. I believe a couple of committed volunteers will always solve something faster than a gaggle of disinterested government employees.

Let's see what else Tickner had to say in that speech:

Over the last 12 months, we have developed a remuneration framework, using a widely regarded methodology that a number of you may also use in your organisation. We now have a 10 grade classification structure, and robust data by which we can compare our remuneration levels to benchmarks including the general market, not for profit market, and specific job families such as IT, finance and HR. Our Board and management team are keen to provide competitive remuneration to our staff, although this has become more challenging given the global financial crisis. We are currently considering our remuneration position for 09/10. As well, we are reviewing other ways that we can reward staff, such as by expanding the range of benefits available under our salary packaging program.
You'll have to excuse the boring management mumbo-jumbo - he was speaking to a bunch of HR managers.

May I conclude by acknowledging that these are tough times, and no Government, corporation or not for profit can be isolated from the impact of the economic climate in which we are operating.

Just how tough are these times for Robert Tickner?

Well, for starters, consider this article in the SMH today about MPs retiring with "pots of gold".

RETIRING politicians will exit Macquarie Street with lifetime pensions costing the NSW taxpayer almost $40 million.
One of the biggest pension winners is John Aquilina, 60, who served as a minister in three Labor governments during his nearly 30 years in Parliament.

He has built-up a pension of $170,224 a year for the rest of his life.

David Campbell who quit as transport minister this year after being filmed leaving a gay sauna in Sydney's east, will receive just over $147,000 a year, and the former minister Diane Beamer will make do with $118,000.
Blah blah blah - they're retiring on big pensions etc. Tickner was in federal parliament from 1984 to 1996, so he wouldn't have built up a pension like Aquilina. However, I guess he'd still have walked (or been thrown out) with a pension well above the average weekly earnings.

So, how is he doing now? Page 46 of the financial statements from the annual report of the Red Cross tells us how.

He's making somewhere between $450,000 and $489,999. On top of his parliamentary pension.

That's what I call "mobilising the power of humanity".

I think it's time I started a charity, and lapped up the milk of human kindness.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Are you smarter than a year 12 student?

Aus_Autarch left a fascinating (and horrifying) series of comments on one of my earlier posts. The gist of it is that you can get a pass by scoring 16 out of 160 in your final high school exams. I thought a pass mark was 50% - how little I know.

Here is the comment in full:

It is far worse than that. According to the statistics at the official site of the Victorian Department of Education (VCAA), 94.5 percent of individuals undertaking the senior mathematics stream (Mathematical Methods (CAS)) pass ( link. ).

Correlating this pass rate with the previous data shown of the percentages to attain specific grades ( link. ), and assuming that the students who did not attain a pass were also those attaining the lowest grades, it appears that a student needs to get approximately 16 marks out of the available 160 to be passing.

Checking further, you can see the actual exam (( link. ), and see that 22 of the questions, are multiple choice. It is not impossible to attain the necessary marks by sheer random selection and be in the passing range without demonstrating any knowledge under examination conditions.

This is the most pessimistic outlook, however. It is necessary, for the purposes of realism, to accept that it is unlikely that a student achieving such low scores is unlikely to continue their education into a study that would have a mathematical pre-requisite. This then does bring up the question of why it was necessary to award a statement of satisfactory completion, if both the demonstrated competence and potential need for the qualification are both absent...

As a layman, let me see if I can unravel this. If I stuff it up, please let me know in the comments.

For starters, exams are no longer the be-all and end-all of your results. Coursework now accounts for a certain amount.

Second, exams now have lots of multiple choice questions - a problem when you need 50% to pass, but not a problem when you only need to get 16 correct.

Third, a fail is no longer 49% and below. A "C" used to mean 50% or more. Now, it appears to mean 43% or more. WTF!!!

Just for fun, I went to the Board of Studies site and did a test exam with 50 multiple guess questions. The course was Latin - something I know less than nothing about. I chose "C" for every answer - and got 22% correct. Which is about what you'd expect. It took me about 2 minutes to tick those 50 answers and come out with 22%. In this day and age, that counts as a "D".

I also tried two sample exams in subjects I know something about - got over 85% in both of them, and it took me less than a quarter of the allowed time to finish the exams. Not bad, considering I've never studied the current curriculum for either subject.

Here is the first link that Aus_Autarch provided - it's the results from the Victorian 2009 Maths exams. Don't ask me what all that Maths is - I had a look at the exam papers, and none of it made sense. I know that I studied it 25 years ago, but I haven't used any of it since, and it's all leaked out of my brain.

What the table below is telling us is that over 95% of students doing this course were awarded a "satisfactory completion". Yippee, you say - lots of smart kids who know a lot of Maths.

I suggest you hang on to your chair - the results are less than pleasant. Because what we need to find out is this - what exactly is a "satisfactory completion"?

The next three tables provide some idea. The first table gives coursework scores, and the next two are the results from two exams.

Coursework is graded out of 100. A "C" is 43-51 out of 100. Unbelievable. 22% scored less than 51%.

Exam 1 is out of 80. A "C" is 24 out of 80 or above - 30% in other words. 30% scored less than 33 out of 80. 46% got a C+, ie, scored 34-45 (42.5% - 56%). Let's just assume that 40% didn't score 50% in this exam (are you following me?)

Exam 2 is out of 160. A "C" is 60-73 out of 160 - 37.5%-45.6%. Interestingly, 37% scored a "C" or lower.

How can it be then that over 95% of students doing this course got a "satisfactory completion"?

The incredibly depressing answer appears to be that the "pass mark" in order to get a "satisfactory completion" is a "D" or better.

Here is what a "D" is worth:

Coursework - score of 20-31 out of 100.

Exam 1 - score of 9-14 out of 80.

Exam 2 - score of 34-46 out of 160.

In other words, it's possible to scrape a "satisfactory completion" by getting a total of 63 marks out of 340. That's 18.5% correct in your coursework and exams, and 81.5% wrong.

Oh, fuck me. We're doomed. As I showed with the Latin exam, if the kids are doing a lot of multiple choice exams, they could get a "satisfactory complete" almost entirely by putting down "C" as their answer.

If you want to test yourself, have a look at this exam paper for "Further Mathematics". It's 100% multiple choice. Whatever happened to working out the answer, and showing your full working?

First class vid

Watch it here. Hilarious.

Friday, 29 October 2010

$18 hamburgers and tax reform

I dropped into the new Westfield shopping centre in the Pitt St mall today in order to try a hamburger from Charlie & Co. I was quite intrigued at the thought of an $18 hamburger. That's not a hamburger meal - that's just a hamburger. A hamburger with chips and aioli plus a drink would set you back nearly $30 - and quite a few people were forking out that much. Not me - I just went with the burger. They don't sell soft drinks, which annoyed me - I like a Coke with a burger.

It's a very nicely set up operation on the fifth floor - I stood in the queue for nearly 40 minutes until I got to place my order, and in that time, I watched a lot of burgers being cooked and put together through a glass screen. Plenty of other patrons were similarly impressed - the chefs were photographed an awful lot. Thankfully, they had a woman who had one job - tell people as they joined the queue that there would be a long wait. I didn't see anyone leave the queue - obviously a lot of people had read a good review about the place, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I finally got my burger - fifty minutes after joining the queue. It took another 10 to cook it after ordering. It came in a beautiful box and bag - the presentation was excellent.

The burger was not that big - if you think an $18 burger should be the size of a Whopper, think again. I think the best way to describe it is "polite". Not petite - polite. It wouldn't leave you feeling bloated and horrible and farty afterwards. It was also a convenient size to hold, and it was easy to eat as it wasn't 130% larger than my mouth.

How was it?

The bun was very good - I wasn't covered in flour and crumbs afterwards. It was nicely toasted.

The meat was great - I went with wagyu. It wasn't as juicy as I expected, but it was very tasty.

The beetroot relish was a revelation, and the pickle was superb. I know we're all used to thick slabs of beetroot on our burgers, and McDonalds pickles. These were nothing like anything I have ever had on a burger before. I know it's hard to get excited about a pickle, but I got excited about this pickle.

Will I go back?

Definitely - but not that often! And next time, I'll go early. None of this arriving a bit after noon and joining an enormous queue.

This got me thinking - there were a lot of people queuing for an expensive burger, and a hell of a lot more walking around a very expensive shopping centre, looking like they were going to buy things.

Good thing I found this table of incomes and income tax in The Aus today.

Here's the thing - there are not a huge number of people reporting large incomes to the tax man. Out of our population of 22 million (or whatever), 9.7 million pay income tax. Not that many are making what I'd call a big income - $150,000 plus. You're talking 4% or so of the taxpaying population, or less than 2% of the population at large.

My point is this - where are all these people getting the disposable income to happily buy $18 wagyu burgers?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Bob Brown prediction

Bob now - "we must get out of Afghanistan as we aren't protecting the population or helping them at all", or words to that effect.

Bob, the day after we leave - "we must immediately grant 10,000 gay Afghans asylum in Australia as our military can no longer protect them from the Taliban."

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Useless teacher banned for life

A teacher who is judged to be incapable of ever improving his work has become the first to be banned for life from the classroom due to incompetence.

The truly shocking quotes from the article:

  • He had taught for a total of 13 years at schools across the South-East.
  • Just 13 teachers have been banned from the profession for fixed periods for incompetence since 2000.
  • Mr Ahmed is the first to receive a prohibition order without time limit.
  • Two years ago, GTC chief executive Keith Bartley said there could be as many as 17,000 'substandard' members of staff among the 500,000 registered teachers in the UK.
  • The small number banned for incompetence will spark fears these teachers are simply being recycled.
Bugger me with a broomstick.

Respect - the devalued currency thereof

This is in response to an interesting comment by Aus_Autarch.

It's to do with education, and why it seems to be in such a funk.

I certainly don't believe kids are any worse today than in earlier times. Hell, I was a complete devil compared to my offspring. Junior is about to turn 15. I celebrated my 15th birthday by being taken on a pub crawl by the Big T. We did most of the pubs in the Perth CBD. Junior has never been drunk, or tried to get drunk - something we used to do with alacrity. We used to sit around in the communal showers at school on a Saturday after sport, drinking beer and sharing a cigarette or two. By sit around, I mean we'd take school chairs into the showers (the old plywood models) and sit on them - our shower room was roughly square, with shower heads poking out of three walls. The shower heads were close enough that you'd bump elbows with the bloke next to you. We'd drink beer and smoke until the boiler ran out of hot water.

In case you are wondering, our boarding house had a beer fridge. We'd grab a year 8 kid and send him on regular trips from the showers down to the beer fridge to fetch us some cold ones. Can't see that happening in modern sanitised schools. The fagging system was alive and well in our boarding house - it was abolished the year after we left.

We used to celebrate being the best. We worshipped high achievers and lavished praise on them. They were granted special privileges not allowed to the plebs. The result was that most strived like hell in their chosen field of endeavour, whether it was academia, sport, chess, debating, the arts or whatever. Those that clearly tried like hell, but didn't quite make it to the top, were also glorified.

These days, achievement has been devalued. It's medals for everyone and no one can be treated as special (unless you are an ADHD pain in the arse). People value greatly the respect of others - their teachers, their peers, their family, older kids and younger kids. Kids are not given a chance to earn real respect these days because the currency of respect and achievement has been so debased.

I attended a school presentation day last year. Somehow, it was contrived that every kid got a certificate for something. Junior received one - none of us can remember what it was for. It was quite an unmemorable "achievement". He certainly wasn't proud of it - he called it something like a "spaccer award"; something handed out to the class spastics. He disowned it as rapidly as possible - he knew better than anyone how it wasn't valuable. If anything, it was poisonous. Kids like him hate getting rewards that they don't deserve.

In the good old days, rewards were limited. Because they were like rare jewels, they had great value. The academic rewards for each year would be something like this:

  • Prize for dux of the year
  • Prize for top student in each subject (of which there were only about a dozen)
We had about 150 kids in our year. That meant that at most, only 1 in 12 would get a prize. Except as it happened, the Dux would also top a few subjects, and the other top kids might cart off 2 or 3 subject prizes each. Four kids might scoop the lot, with 146 missing out.

I doubt the 146 ever resented the 4 that won prizes - they recognised the effort that they'd put in to get those results. They didn't want a blue ribbon for coming 18th in woodwork.

Grandfather's axe

The old bike is starting to resemble grandfather's axe. I looked at it this week and the only original components that I can identify are the seat and the frame.

  • Two front wheel rebuilds
  • Forks and handlebars replaced after crash
  • Two rear wheel rebuilds
  • New pedals (wore the old ones out)
  • New drive train (several times over)
  • New bearings on just about everything
  • Three bike computers (funnily enough, computers exposed to lots of rain do have a tendency to die after a while)
  • Multiple cable changes
  • New brake calipers
  • Multiple layers of handlebar tape and changes of hoods
  • Several bike pumps
I've now spent more on replacement parts than I spent on the original bike. Still, considering it's done over 20,000km, that's not bad. At the last service, I worked out that if I had paid another thousand bucks, I could have had a brand new bike.

I have also discovered why from time to time, the wheel rims explode. Because the brake pads grip the rim to slow you down, over time, they wear away at the rim. I've worn my rims down so much from braking, they get to the point where they can't handle the pressure any more and they go boom.

Monday photos

Three dudes jostling for position as the light goes green.

Big boat. Wet day. Not a great day to see Sydney. Not a great morning for riding to work - I arrived looking like a drowned rat.

Wearing jeans - ok for a short ride, would be instant crotch rot on my daily commute.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Is this the way to do well at school?

I am a fascinated reader and contributor over at Maralyn Parker's education blog at the Tele. The arguments that rage there are a hoot - compared to other areas of the blogsphere, it has the atmosphere of an academic staff room where professors in gowns argue over cups of tea and biscuits. The usual "you are worse than Hitler" type rebuttals are never to be seen.

Over the last few years, Maralyn has canvassed a wide range of education topics. No matter what the topic, those doing the commenting are concerned with one key theme - how do we get the best out of our kids? Do private schools get better results than state schools? Do state schools need more funding? Will computers improve teaching? What is the best pedagogy? (I had to look up the meaning of that word). How do we deal with useless teachers? How do we motivate teachers? And on and on it goes.

One thing that I don't ever remember being canvassed is the impact that workload has on results. ie - the more you study, the better you'll do.

We accept that in sports like golf, tennis, swimming, cycling, cricket, football and so on that elite athletes are very, very good because they train an awful lot. Tiger Woods hits a lot of golf balls every day. Pete Sampras probably practices more serves in a day than I do in a year. Baseball players and cricketers stand in the nets, hitting ball after ball served up to them by other players or machines. Jonny Wilkinson thinks he has kicked a rugby ball one million times - he puts in 250-300 practice kicks per week. I could go on and on, but it's generally accepted that to be good at something, you have to do it an awful lot.

Same goes for chess, or playing the piano. Do you think concert pianists are just naturally good? One of my relatives is a concert pianist, and he'll practice 8-10 hours per day, 7 days per week for months before a concert. For a single 1 hour concert, he might put in 800 hours of practice.

For some reason, this idea of effort equals results seems to be missing when it comes to school and educations. The arguments are always about money and resources (and how "unfair" it is that private schools have more), rather than a discussion about how to maximise the output from a given amount of learning hours.

Let's crunch some numbers.

Assume schools are open for 4 terms of 10 weeks each. Schools teach 5 days per week, with 6 periods of 50 minutes each.

In an ideal world, that gives us 4 x 10 x 5 x 5 = 1000 hours per year, or 12,000 hours over the course of primary school and high school.

Now a reasonable amount of that time won't be spent teaching. Two periods per week are used for sport, another for religious education (or ethics) and a few periods on useless, wanky shit like PDHPE (which seems to consist entirely of explaining how to have anal sex, why lesbians should have children and how to get gonorrhoea). So we have 26 periods left per week to teach stuff like Maths, English, Science, History, Geography etc etc. We've shed 13% of our available teaching time - what happens with the other 87%?

In my day, we lost a few minutes traipsing between classes, and a minute or two at the start and finish of each lesson as we packed and unpacked in each class. About half an hour per day was lost to these activities - 10% of the school day. These days, if we are to believe the likes of Frank Chalk (which I do), that 30 minutes has exploded into several hours. We used to line up silently outside the class door, march in when instructed, sit down, immediately unpack and be ready to be taught within about a minute. About 75% of our week was actually spent listening and learning, giving us 750 hours of solid instruction per year.

Those days are gone. Turning up late and unprepared now seems to be the order of the day. Taking forever to unpack, assuming you have what you require, is the norm. Trying to pack up and leave early is de rigueur. Instead of spending 45-50 minutes sitting there with your yap shut, listening to what the teacher was saying, classes now seem to be as chatty as Oprah. I know I can't talk and listen at the same time, so I don't know how anyone can learn if their lips are moving.

So let's assume that out of the 1000 hours per year that we start with, that half of it is wasted in ambling between classes, arriving late, fluffing about with unpacking, chatting instead of listening and generally wasting time. How much can you learn in 500 hours as opposed to the 750 we used to get? Well, if my maths is any good, you'll learn about 2/3 as much.

The same goes for homework and study time. Those that do more homework and study more - ie, put in more hours - will get better results. With repetition comes more retention, and hopefully - eventually - understanding.

I'll even make up a graph to illustrate this idea. It's not a straight line, because once you pass a certain point, every hour of effort results in diminishing returns.

I would have thought that if you want to achieve a certain result level, the idea behind all education policies would be to work out how many hours of study and homework the average student would need to achieve that level, and then do everything in your power to actually make sure they do that many hours of in-class learning, homework and study.

If for instance it requires 200 hours per year to achieve a mark of 70% in Maths for an average student, then every Maths teacher should be going all out to deliver 200 hours of instruction and study.

And by "study", I don't mean just sitting in the class room throwing spitballs at the ceiling, or 200 hours on the school premises (ie, behind the bike shed having a smoke). I mean 200 hours of sitting down and crunching through thousands of problems on your own.

This seems to be the missing element in modern education. It doesn't matter how interesting the course material or how engaging the teacher is - if the student isn't sitting in class and paying attention, they won't learn a bloody thing.

Why bring this up?

My sister was a complete party animal in high school - and her grades reflected that. Then, in year 11, she knuckled down and started working really hard. Nothing else changed (she still partied, but worked as hard as she partied). Her results went from crap to top of the class.

The teachers didn't change. The way they taught didn't change. The curriculum didn't change. The school didn't get a new hall. She didn't get given a laptop. The school didn't change - she changed. Her attitude changed. Her behaviour changed. And from that, all else flowed. She went from putting in a few hundred hours of effort per year to about 2000 - which meant she zoomed right up the graph above.

She put in the effort. She got the results. She stopped wasting time, avoiding work and fluffing around, and actually started paying attention, working in class and studying at home.

It's pretty bloody simple, isn't it?

Which kills more birds - massive oil spills or wind farms?

"Affect heuristic'" is a fancy name for a pretty obvious concept, namely that we discount the drawbacks of things we are emotionally in favor of. For example, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill certainly killed about 1,300 birds, maybe a few more. Wind turbines in America kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds every year, generally of rarer species, such as eagles. Yet wind companies receive neither the enforcement, nor the opprobrium, that oil companies do.

By Matt Ridley. I do enjoy his books.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

It makes sense to check before you buy

A great story on "cheap" real estate.

Ah yes. If Fallujah is too far to commute to your non-existent job, why not East Cleveland!

Spring Cycle - aftermath

When I got home from the ride last weekend, I plonked the bike in the backyard and made plans to give it a good wash and degrease - it looked (and sounded) like it had just been trawled out of the Black Lagoon.

After fluffing around for a few hours, I went back to start the cleanup and discovered that the front tyre was flat. After pulling out the tube, I found that the tube stem had separated from the tube - never seen that before. How I got home without it going flat is beyond me.

As I was changing the tube, I had a good look at the tyre and found that it was stuffed - time for replacement. It was covered in innumerable nicks and cuts and was worn to the point where it's clear lots of punctures are going to happen. I cursed the tyre as I refitted it, making a mental note to buy one this week. It was an absolute bastard to get back over the rim - I thought I was going to dislocate my thumbs in the process.

As I packed away my stuff, I found two new tyres, still in their packaging, sitting in my bike box. I'd ordered them on line earlier this year and forgotten about them....

Silly bloody things

I hate the silly pedo-cabs that you occasionally see in the CBD these days - especially when they appear on the main roads like George St. They crawl along at walking pace, which must annoy the bus drivers no end. I wouldn't mind if they moved at a reasonable pace, like 30-40km/h, which is what the traffic flows at most days. Due to their low gearing, they are lucky to do 10km/h.

If I didn't know better, I'd say that they are part of an evil strategy by the stupid Lord Mayor to choke car movements within the CBD.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Spring Cycle, last part

Sheesh, it's almost a week since I finished the ride, and I'm only just getting around to putting the last photos up. It's been that kind of week.

Here's the arch at the finish line. A welcome site after 70km of stop-start-stop-start-overtake-brake etc etc. I got in trouble for riding after passing under this - there was one small sign somewhere telling us to dismount and walk, and pretty much everyone rode past it without seeing it. There was an old harridan off to the right who yelled at us to walk - it turned out she was handing out medals to the finishers, but there were plenty of people like me who were so annoyed at her behaviour that we kept on going and left her to her pile of medals. I heard her say to an offsider later on "Why isn't anyone collecting their medals?" Duh - because you were screaming at them and completely shitting them after they'd been riding for 3-4 hours.

The fountain and fire thing from the opening of the 2000 games. A few years ago, the ride was run on a day when the temp was in the 30s. I was so hot at the end, I rode straight under this fountain to cool off. The water coming out of it was arctic.

The most important thing post-ride: fuel. The bacon and egg roll tent was doing a roaring trade - and they were very tasty. Inhaled one and a small bottle of Coke in under a minute. After that, i was ready to push home.

There was a wide selection of munchies to suit all tastes. Nice one.

The ride home - it went a lot faster, as people were dispersing in all directions instead of clogging up one road, and a lot caught the train home.

Crossing the stream in Concord - there were still plenty of people heading west as I headed home.

And that was it for another year.

Biggest lesson for next year - be at the start line at 0630! Get going before the crowds!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Spring Cycle, Part 4

Hey look - Cav did the ride as well!

Rest point - time for a banana. My shoulders and elbows were aching by this point. Normally, I swap the position of my hands on the bars all the time as I ride. However, because of the density of traffic, and the low skills of so many of those around me, I had to keep my hands on the brakes at all times. I reckon I wore out two sets of pads on the ride - it was brake, brake, brake every 5 seconds.

This T-shirt is an ad for Moose Drool beer. Sounds fabulous.

I know it looks good to wear kit that matches and all that..... but I just don't get into that sort of thing.

Poles in Olympic Park.

And trees. And cobblestones. Now I understand why racing on cobbles is so hard - the bloody things grip your tyres like crazy! You really have to race over them as fast as possible - and this was a line of fresh, smooth, nicely laid modern "cobbles". The lumpy old original ones in France and Belgium must be a nightmare.

And then we went through the trees - no passing possible!

Saw lots of these sorts of things. That's commitment.

And more tandems.

The rest will have to wait until tomorrow - I'm still shattered.

Spring Cycle, Part 3

A conga line of - somethings.

And look - more odd Italian whatevers.

Tandems - never, ever see them, except for days like Sunday. Then, you see heaps of them.

That grey building in the background that looks like a spaceship from Star Wars had a bar that was full of people partying on at 0730 on Sunday morning. Half their luck. To be that young again, when staying awake all night was possible.

Stopping to admire the view of Darling Harbour.

Out of the darkness and shadows cast by massive apartment blocks looms the spires of the ANZAC bridge. Yes, it really was cold and dark and gloomy down there in the depths.

Lilyfield Rd - looks a bit different to my first photo in Part 1. Hordes of bikes. Just hordes. And all crawling up the hill too. Since I climb this twice a day, I got sick of crawling after a while, changed up a few cogs and just blasted past most of them. Some were so puffed, they had hopped off to push. I was out of the saddle and just going for it. There are times when crawling just feels like death.

Yeah - traffic control in 9mm form. Without wanting to be silly, this bike cop was a bit.....porky. You'd think that someone who worked on a bike would be a bit leaner and less rotund.

Not that I mind chunky cops. As I was heading towards the start and passing the Pyrmont Hotel, a drunken patron tried to stagger onto the road just as I hit the corner at speed. The alert (and large) cop standing at that corner grabbed the bloke by the collar and practically lifted him off the ground as he jerked him back a foot or so out of my way. I was too stunned to yell out "thanks" as I shot by.

The "cyclocross" part of the course. Because of the density of the crowds, we had to dismount and walk across this rusty old bridge.

Ladibug - I think they were the Liverpool Anesthetic Department bike user group. Neat. I like how the bloke on the right has his camera slung over his back.