Today, which began in the mud of the Pigs' Race, has to end on the high point of a blogpost.
The Pigs' Race, for the uninitiated, involves doing as many laps as possible of a mountainbike short course (3 km) in an hour and rolling a pair of pig dice in between each lap. A lap scores 10 points; the dice roll scores extra points, depending in what position the pigs fall. There are a couple of positions in which they can fall that scotch all your points, so you don't want to get greedy and roll for too long. It can all end in tears.
The other meaning of the race's name came out more clearly this morning: it was to involve a roll in the mud, literally. I have to say, once I saw the mud, I took this race at a more languid pace than I did last year, except when I suddenly tailed some guy speeding down a hill and went splat on my side when I hit the mud at the bottom. Thereafter, I was always trying to find a way of weaving round a nearby shrub or ducking over a ridge to miss the ever-softening mud-hole. I reckon I was possibly the muddiest person there: the picture left doesn't do justice to the amount of mud on my person and my bike.
I also procrastinated over the whole dice-rolling business as last year I did more laps than the person who won my age division, but lost out on the pig score. Some guy tried to give me advice on how to make a quicker 'transition' from bike to dice to bike: I said to him, 'look, it's the Pigs' Race.'
This year, I (ahem) won gold, rather ingloriously as I was competing against a local who raced in a tutu for a laugh. I did 6 laps in an hour (18 km, with plenty of dillydallying in between), so I was pretty pleased with that (more than about the medal business, as with the other race). I'll have to try for 7 laps next time. Afterwards, I went round to a friend's place: he's a fireman, so handy with a hose, and he sprayed out several bucketloads of orange sand from my bike's subtle parts.
The desert is all about rain, clouds, mud and daisies at the moment. Oh, and snakes and birds. At the end of our medal ceremony tomorrow, a flock of budgies flew fittingly over head. It is without a doubt the coollest weather I've ever experienced in Alice in October. The forecast tomorrow is from 15 to 17 C: I'm used to warmer October weather, like 37 C. A local historian made lofty claims in the paper about the landscape being the closest, (the most verdant I suppose) to what it's been since colonisation...I don't know about that. There's still a lot of erosion out there.