Sunday, August 26, 2007
(150km down/ 650km to go)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
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
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.
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
Thursday, August 09, 2007
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.