Friday, August 31, 2007

Sydney Critical Mass

(280km down 520km to go)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hipster Olympics

(250km down 550km to go)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Innocence and Experience: with apologies to William Blake

I started my long distance training rides today however, instead of going to West Head I decided to go up to the Blue Mountains to see Ruth. For the first 30km I was feeling a little a bit off and wasn’t sure if I was pushing myself too much after having the flu. Riding on the M4 reminded me of playing a computer game called Frogit where you have to dodge cars and crocks. However in my M4 Motorway game you dodge the bricks, truck tires and broken glass that makes up most of the cycle/break down lane. And there are the cars and trucks at the onramp/off ramp intersections. These are nasty to deal with, as cars pull off them at 100km/h through heavy traffic while your trying to guess if they’ll even bother indicating. Working hard to safely negotiate these intersections reminded me of something Charles Baudelaire said about streets, cars and the smell of death, but I can’t remember what that was. Anyway, the trucks smelt like death on wheels. What I like about the M4 is the rhythm I get into on the flat/straight ride, but for all the stress its really no good for training. I only saw one other cyclist out there. When I got to the hill (aka Blue Mouuntains) at Lapstone I felt better as if my body had woken up after what have been some sluggish weeks. Around 1pm I pulled into Valley Heights to see Ruth then at 3pm I turned around to head home. I felt comfortable on the highway but pretty soon had to negotiate the fast decent at Lapstone. About 400m from the RAFF base the side lane turns to gravel and I had go on the highway amongst heavy traffic. I put my superflash light on and thanged as hard as I could on the downhill. I caught up to one car descending at 72km/h. It was a huge adrenaline kick but it less fun because of the heavy traffic. I got down the hill and then something strange happened. I started to get stomach pains like I’d never had before. I’d clearly eaten too much or the wrong type of food because I was in total agony. I thought it was just a cramp and I’d pass through it so I pressed on. But it got worse and worse, so much that I could barely twist my torso. I painfully went on hovering at around 22km/h. for another 40km. Then I finally pulled off at Parramatta when it was getting too dark. This was the worst ride I’d ever done and I didn’t realise how much pain I could put myself in from indigestion on a big ride. I won’t describe what happened when I got home but I'm feeling a lot better. From now on I’m sticking with the bananas and muesli bars.

(150km down/ 650km to go)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Random thoughts

I have finally discovered bloglines ( yeah. I'm a bit slow with these things) and have been keeping a sharper eye on the blogsphere. Recently my favourite posts have been coming from a blog called Bike Snob NYC. This blogger ruthlessly rips into all things in fixed-geared bike culture. Check it out for a good laugh. I absolutely love this piss take on this picture (left) from fixgeargallery.

This morning was my first ride in two weeks since having the flu. I did the usual 35km circuit to Uni and back. The most interesting thing that happened was I rode through the middle of a swam of wasps. Luckly I had glasses on. I've been feeling very slow and I didn’t even push it into the big chain ring. I’m feeling a little bit anxious about my fitness. I've also have some soar knee problems but they seem to have improved since I stopped riding the single speed (up nasty hills) and started taking fish oil tablets with glucosamine. In one month from now I’m going to be doing the Grafton to Inverell race (again). So, this Sunday I'm going to start training with the first of some long training rides out of Sydney. I intend to go West Head for lunch then I'll ride back to Manly. I estimate I really need to do around 800km in the next few weeks to prepare for the race.

(35km down / 765km to go)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Get out and walk!

Just read this excellent article from the Guardian Online.

The fume-spewing, fattening car is also utterly expendable
The real enemies of the environment are the obdurate millions who refuse to accept they can function without driving
By Lynsey Hanley @ The Guardian

By the year 5555, prophesied the one-hit wonders Zager and Evans in their queasy late-60s record In the Year 2525, our arms will have gone floppy and our legs grown useless because we'll have "some machine" to do the work that once kept our limbs healthy. That machine has already been invented. It's called the car, and it does more damage to our bodies, our built environment, our climate and our communities than anyone who drives a lot seems prepared to admit, even to themselves. A case in point is last week's revelation that excessive car use is a greater contributor to obesity than excessive cake consumption, because of all the calories that drivers are failing to burn off over the course of countless walkable journeys. Research carried out by the Institute for European Environmental Policy shows that, in the last 30 years - when all but 19% of households have become car owners - the amount of time we spend walking has decreased, from 67 hours per person per year to 47, while time spent driving has increased precipitously, from 91 to 151 hours per driver per year.

As a lifelong pedestrian and user of public transport, the only trouble I tend to experience in getting from A to B is having to listen to people who usually drive describe pleasant, speedy journeys as "a bloody shambles". Methinks they protest too much, mindful that to be caught sharing transport with other people is to show the world what a loser you are. Anyway, these serial complainers have presumably never been in a traffic jam, or been subject to roadworks.

People who have always driven, and were driven around as children, have no idea what it's like to be a pedestrian. They don't care about the fumes they emit, because they can't smell or sense them inside their cars. They don't care about the noise they make, because all they can hear while locked inside their car is a low, comforting purr. They don't care about the fact that the one-way system and the inner ring road make getting into and around towns a dirty, stressful ordeal, because the first they know about it is when they emerge from the car park into the shopping centre.

.... continued here

The idea of the average UK resident doing an average of 67 hours per year seemed truly shocking. I did some quick sums and I reckon I'd do at least 400 hours a year on the bike, so I guess I won't have to buy another machine to keep my limbs healthy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Cyclists Special excursion to Rugby

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

A new bike reality!

Well, after for all my complaining, I've finally finished paying off my track bike which I put a deposit on 4 months ago. Its an Apollo Record. It used to be called a Raceline, but its really just a rebadged Monoc track frame (made in Taiwain). With all this relabbeling, it doesn't exactly scream authentic pista fashionista, but its made with good quality parts and its good enough for me. Can't wait to get out on the track next week. If only I could get over my man cold.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New bike dreaming

I have been thinking a lot about getting a new bike, or more specifically an everyday (city/commuter) bike for long commutes. I realise that a perfect bike, like many desirable things is an impossible ideal. The quest for the perfect bike is pointless, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I've got bugger all disposible income. However, if I can indulge in some fantasies, I’m hoping that there might be a new bike that will make my commutes a little more joyful.

I’m currently riding a 96’ Trek 1200 road bike and a 1970s Malvern Star single speed. I also have a mountain bike that needs major repairs. The Trek is naturally fast but its not comfortable on my 20km commutes to uni. I get some lower back pain and sore shoulders when I ride it a lot. I’d also prefer not to ride in road bike shoes which are a pain with the stop-start nature of urban commuting. I could change them, but don’t want to fiddle around between road and MTB pedals every week. Currently, I ride the Trek most of the time but I’d rather keep it in good condition for Saturday crits and long Sunday training rides. The Malvern Star is a much better commuter bike, despite its age. The tyres go up to around 90psi and they're a 32c which give you nice balance between traction and speed. Even though it looks like an old piece of junk, its perfect for short rides on the flatlands between the inner-west and the city. It’s strong and comfortable with an relaxed riding position. However, the single speed (despite being somewhat fashionable) is not that good for me when I’m riding up those steep hills on the way to Macquarie Uni or if I'm riding with Ruth in the Blue Mountains. I’ve already snapped one quality steel pedal and I’d rather spin my way up hills that leverage every bit of my body weight through the 70 inch gear. Also, the coaster break does not scream confidence when I’m riding amongst the traffic. The Malvern Star is really the perfect bike for riding into the city at night as I never worry about it getting stolen, but its not a long distance commuter bike.

So, back to my ideal bike. The problem is I’m strapped for cash and so the options are somewhat limited. What I’m looking for is some balance between price, comfort, reliability, speed, strength and durability. I guess this is a pretty big wish list for someone who doesn't want to spend over $1000. Looking around many of the big bike companies I’m actually struggling to find anything that resembles my perfect bike. While there has been an explosion in the development of new hybrid/city bikes, there are very few that I’d really want. Although I’m sure that these bikes are perfect people who do short commutes, they're no good for me. Almost all of the hybrids (like the many Giant models) have heavy low quality suspension, which will slow you down and doesn’t do much in terms of comfort when compared to a good saddle. Then there are some really nice flat bar road bikes that are really quick (such as the Trek SU300, Scott Sub10) but they tend to cost quite a lot (i.e. well over $1K). Some of them are made out of carbon fibre which seems pointless to me. Why would you bother going carbon for somethings that’s meant to be a commuter workhorse? And disc brakes, no thanks! Of course, if I had lots of money they’d be no problem. But I want something that I can afford and something thats going to last a long time into the future. Doing lots of searching on the net, I think the closest thing I found is the Jamis Coda Sport. Its fairly light (around 11kg), strong and durable (Renyolds 520 double butted steel frame and fork), quick (700x28c), fairly priced ($1000) and appears to have realiable components (Shimano Deore and SRAM). This strikes me as a fairly well matched bike as least from looking at the specs. I don't know if this is the bike of my dreams but I'm willing to give it a test ride.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007