Archives for posts with tag: Bikes

So today I am not posting about one of my rides but one that my wife Rebecca did today. A few years back, Bicycle NSW started a great initiative to get more women cycling – Gear Up Girl! They realised that for the mass participation rides a whole bunch of male cyclists, riding as blokes do, can be a negative incentive for women riders. Sometimes women don’t necessarily want to ride at 35km/hr in a bunch and hammer it up a hill – sometimes they just want to go out for a ride and enjoy it. So they set up a set of women only rides to take the blokey edge out of the mass participation rides and get more women in lycra and on two wheels. In my opinion it can only be a good thing getting more people riding, women or men. But I think it sends a really powerful message to kids if they see their mum’s getting out to ride and get fit. Our little Pok (AKA our son) was quite jealous that his mum was going out for a ride and insisted that he bring his bike along. He even wanted to set off for the 8am start after he saw his mum take off (2 year old tantrum ensued until I told him that he could go mountain biking on his balance bike among the trees).

My wife and my aunt Jan decided that they would be riding buddies for this trip, and it would 45km in distance starting and finishing at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush. This is the fourth Gear Up Girl ride that my wife has done, and no matter how many kms she has in her legs leading up to the ride she would never want to miss it. But the weather was looking ominous and it had been raining in Sydney fairly consistently for the last three days, yesterday being pretty heavy. I reckon a few riders decided to give it a miss, but it didn’t deter the two riding buddies from hitting the road. My wife registered on the day and placed the numbered rider bib across the bar and stem preparing to roll.

GUG_2012_0002

The obligatory rider pre-ride pose followed before heading to the start line. My aunt Jan had just installed a new set of rubber on her wheels, thinner and faster – so she was keen to try out how fast she would roll on these new shoes.

GUG_2012_0003

There is one annoying thing about this ride, the gas-bagging that goes on before the start. I don’t understand why they don’t realise that, male or female, getting cold again before the start of a ride is not conducive to a good ride. So all the riders were itching to get going, my wife and aunt included.

GUG_2012_0004

Thankfully they set off not too long after this shot was taken. Now when I said it was ominous check out the clouds in the next photo –

GUG_2012_0006

But the heavens stayed clear for the most part and it was only puddles mostly that had to be navigated. If you look carefully in the above photo down the bottom right you will see a rare sight at these rides – the Aussie Green and Gold ready to roll! The girls were lucky today to be joined by Jayme Richardson – who represented Australia at both the Beijing and London Paralympics and is two time bronze medallist in the speed event, the 500m time trial. I saw her on TV on SBS Cycling Central a few months ago, and never thought I would see her ride in person among the plebs. Here is the spot they broadcast on her – tough rider!

SBS Cycling Central – Jayme Richardson

Jayme Richardson - On the Track

Anyway, the girls set off and had a good ride – except for the nasty headwind for the last couple of kms.

GUG_2012_0007

They returned to the finish line after two hours. My aunt Jan’s new rubber was very quick, and this has probably delayed her desire to purchase a road steed. I am very proud of my wife’s efforts and look forward to our next ride in May for the Ride Around the Lake. Next time I will be able to join in the fun!

So I might be down a set of wheels, but that doesn’t mean others in our house are not keen to go for a spin. We bought the Pok (AKA our son) a balance bike a few months back and have been waiting for him to grow tall enough so that he can put his feet down on either side and push. He has recently gone through a mini growth spurt and we got him a new set of shoes that give him that little bit of extra height. Now he is ready to roll! After an abysmal weekend of weather, Sunday morning let the sun burst through the clouds. I could tell he was itching to get outside because he was riding the bike down the hallway. We had to take him to ride.

The location for his ride was the C.A.R.E.S Facility at Sydney Park in Alexandria. It is where they do motorcycle rider training for learner riders during the week. On the weekend it is where the children play on any combination of wheels. As soon as we parked the car up, the Pok was itching to take his bike for a spin – he wouldn’t even let me carry the bike to the track, he insisted on doing it. This facility is great! It has flashing signals (just like the proper ones on the road), speed bumps, marked pedestrian crossings, curbed road sides, marked lines – the works. And all of it is in a microcosm of traffic. For those parents half asleep walking through the complex you are going to get collected by a speeding child on a bike, scooter, or wheeled contraption of some kind. The look of joy on the kid’s faces is great, and this is the one of the safest complexes of its type that I have seen in Sydney where kids can just hoon around on wheels.

The Pok quickly got the hang of it, and it wasn’t long before he just took off and thought about looking for us as an afterthought. He was concentrating very hard, and what pleased me was his left hand prepared to grip the brake lever just like he has seen me many times doing before. Here he my little riding buddy hitting the track.

Pok Riding - #1Pok Riding - #2Pok Riding - #3Pok Riding - #4

What we weren’t expecting was half of the track being drowned in water from all the rain over the last couple of days. The drains must have been clogged, and this left a few dips in the road with big pools of water. Our son saw this and headed straight for that section of the road. He stopped as he reached the edge of the dry pavement and pondered his next move. After a very short period of pondering the words that came out of his mouth should not have surprised me, “Daddy, can I go in the water?” At first I responded “No, go the other way.” But then when he asked again I thought what would I have done if I was riding. Of course I would have gone through the water – again, and again, and again. There was no way I could stop him from riding through. So with shoes, socks, and shorts off he hit the trail again but this time Fred Flintstone style.

He Loved It!

Pok Riding - #5Pok Riding - #6Pok Riding - #7Pok Riding - #8

I would be lying if I said that there was not a hint of jealousy on my part. It looked like awesome fun! I think that this place will be frequented heavily until he goes exploring other trails. Especially if he gets to finish off his rides the way it finished today. He is too young to develop the cyclist’s post ride coffee addiction, so naturally he is picking a different poison.

Pok Riding - #9

Good times! If anyone wants to know where Sydney Park is, I have attached the Google Maps link below. The arrow marks the spot where the the riding track is. There is a car park adjacent to it with a set of lights to get into it, very easy to get to for anyone driving.

Sydney Park - Alexandria - Google Maps

 

I have resigned myself to the fact that my MTB steed is gone for good. That is devastating, but as my wife correctly said “I need to look forward and move on”. On a side note, my wife has been awesome dealing with a very angry/upset/melancholic rider in the house whose fuse has been unacceptably short. I think the most devastating thing about it is when I got screen shots from the CCTV footage. The Police are not interested, and if I was honest I don’t think they even have the manpower or resources to chase this sort of stuff down (they have enough trouble chasing down thieves who break into houses or steal cars). So I am left with the follow up, and while my main course of action is to chase up my insurance I want to post this guy’s photos so if others see him they lock up and call him out to the authorities.

Here he is entering into our building in the wee hours behind our cleaner who is trying to empty the garbage.

Thief_MF1

He was obviously not specifically looking for mine.

Thief Mother F#cker 2

At this point I suspect that he realised something was not right about the front wheel.

Thief Mother F#cker 3

He has made a mistake by deciding early morning is a good time to do this. That is when I (and most serious cyclists) get out and ride. It will be interesting to see how I would react should I bump into him.

But I need to move on. The challenge for me now is to find a 26″ bike with QR skewers so I can attach my son’s trailer to the rear axle. I will find a new MTB Steed to love and ride, and now I have the customisation bug it will become very much my ride.

I hate to say it, but Melbourne is the best city in Australia to be a cyclist. They have an awesome network of rider friendly roads and bike paths, with only one point of caution – tram tracks! Having said that, I reckon that this bloke from Ballarat might have come up with the solution. So whenever I get to travel down there, I try and get out for a ride. It is cool too, because I get to ride with my Brother who now lives down there with my Sister In-law. My recent work excursions have given me more opportunities to go for a Melbourne spin, but I have not been able to bring my bike. Solution – take my lid (helmet), shoes, gloves, and gear down with me and borrow my Sister In-law’s bike. She has a Giant Defy aluminium road bike which is a cool little ride. It looks pretty funny when I travel with the rest of the business crowd in our suits on a Monday morning and I have my lid slung around my work bag as I check in on the flight.

Riding Melbourne - #1After spending the day at the office, I rushed over to the Melbourne Yardin’s residence with my gear in hand. But before we could roll I had to rig the bike to fit me. This involved adding the Garmin mount, tensioning off the SPD pedal clips, and most importantly swapping out the women’s seat for a man’s saddle and adjust the seat height. I had to lift up the height of the seat post a further 3 times within the first 2km of our ride because I didn’t get it right before we started rolling. Big tip – if you borrow someone else’s bike, measure the length on your own bike between the centre point of the crank and the base of your saddle to get the seat height right. My Sister In-law is a few inches shorter than me, and her bike is one size smaller (it was a 53.5cm frame and I normally ride a 56cm). It felt different, but not uncomfortable. In fact, while it was heavier than my carbon road steed, I was surprised how responsive the bike felt under steering. I was able to clock up just under 50km/hr going downhill and I felt very sturdy on the bars and pedals.

Riding Melbourne - #2The ride had a few gremlins in it, with my brother copping a flat as we climbed up Alma Road in St Kilda East. Unusually for Melbourne glass was sprinkled everywhere on the route we chose for the evening.

Melbourne Riding - #3

It took us a while to change the wheel, and we were getting hungry. So we kept spinning with a time limit on the clock, but decided to ham it up a bit. King Edward VII sitting on his horse has got nothing compared to a man in lycra on two wheels.

Melbourne Riding - #4

In the end, we were gone for only just over an hour, but at least we are now rigged to roll again. I am looking forward to getting out on the wheels again this week and this time put a few more kilometres down. When we got back to Melbourne Yardin’s place, the two bikes had their own romantic interlude under the butterflies – as if to remind me that I was riding my Sister In-law’s bike and her bike was already betrothed to another. Haha, good times!

Riding Melbourne - #5

 

 

After a solid year of training and a few big rides in September and October this year, I have wound down the riding a bit in November. But I am already putting on some pudding around the waist and I had enough of it yesterday – so back in the saddle. I picked up a new riding buddy, GE, who is training for a sprint triathlon to raised funds for the Cancer Charity Can Too. GE is an old work colleague who finally got around to attaining a new road steed to add to his stable. He has been off the bikes for a while, so was a bit rusty. But it was good to introduce another cycling buddy to one of my routes – Centennial Park to La Perouse and back.

For those who don’t know both locations have historical significance for Australia. La Perouse was where the French Navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse landed in Botany Bay a few days after the First Fleet of British Convicts entered the bay before proceeding to Sydney Cove. Centennial Park was originally land belonging to the Gadigal people before European settlement in Australia, but in more recent times the park is significant as the site of official ceremony to mark the federation of Australia on 1 January 1901. The pavilion for the ceremony still stands today. While the whole area holds great history for Indigenous Australia, Colonial Australia, and the modern Australian Commonwealth – for me personally the area is great for riding with the two cool bookends.

For this ride I had installed a new piece of kit on my road steed, a K-Edge Garmin computer mount. I had been eyeing this piece of kit up for a while, through fear of crashing while bombing down the hill and trying to look at my Garmin for a speed check. What convinced me was the review by another blogger Alan Thomson over a Scarlet Fire who wrote up this article.

K-Edge out front Garmin computer mount

That is it in the metallic red paint and you can see it is quite a fair way in front of the stem headplate. I left the old mount on the stem as a comparison point and the viewing angle is greatly improved in terms of how far you have to look down (over the front wheel and not the stem). In this new setup, my peripheral vision is over past the front wheel – much safer for speed checks while bombing down hills.

This ride has a good downhill bombing segment that leads to Bare Island at La Perouse. I always conk out before the cul-de-sac at the end that swings around to return back. My goal is to maintain maximum speed all the way down this segment. For this ride with GE I grabbed a PR, but well short of the guys racking up 69km/hr. We were rewarded with a beautiful dawn view of the Tasman Sea and heads at Botany Bay. That is GE’s new Giant steed that you can see in the shot, cool ride.

Botany Bay heads La Perouse

It was also a nice calm view of the bay and airport runways too – in fact nice morning for a ride all round, given that it was sprinkling ever slightly when I left home.

Botany Bay - La Perouse

And I suppose I have to include a shot of me in my riding gear (the cursed BMC kit that I wore for my only road steed stack). I am normally the one doing the shooting, so surprisingly I don’t have many photos with me in them.

CY on the LaPa ride

At the halfway point GE was doing pretty well, as hadn’t done a lot of road riding. We started our return, and unusually there was a bit of traffic for that time of the morning. We returned through Maroubra along ANZAC Parade, and the traffic was really getting busy. I told GE to ride single file on my tail, but as soon as we did so another rider flew past both of us as he weaved in and out of the second lane. The other rider had got no more than 50m in front of us when, as he was sitting in the left most lane, he got cut off by a ute that decide it wanted to turn left – without the driver looking in her blind spot. He nearly got collected and had to come to a pretty much full stop to avoid being hit. In fairness, the rider had put himself in her blind spot, but nonetheless she would have been at fault. The challenge that I have in this case is that even she was at fault, the loser will always be the rider on two wheels. Crash adverted for him – luckily.

We approached the five ways roundabout at Kingsford where some the traffic signals had afforded us a clean run on the road without any cars alongside of us, but as I entered the roundabout with ample space and no traffic a single driver in a car coming from the south into the roundabout decided that he didn’t have to look and sped in on a collision course with me. I was readily anticipating this sort of stupidity and lucky for me there was no other traffic on my right and I could change lanes to avoid him. GE was watching it all from behind my rear wheel and started yelling at driver, at which point the driver finally looked and saw me less than a metre from his open driver’s side window.

Words were exchanged… politely.

He apologised profusely and took off, probably heart in his mouth at the crash that he avoided. At least I saw the “oh sh!t” look in his eyes.

For me this is all too common an occurrence on Sydney. Unlike some of Australia’s other capital cities like Melbourne and Adelaide, there is little acceptance of riders on the road. In Sydney, there appears to be an anger directed at cyclists – fueled by some idiots like Alan Jones on the radio. The focus instead needs to be on how everyone needs to ride and drive safe to avoid accidents and incidents like the one I experienced. Until the road safety situation improves, I will be driving my car to Centennial Park to go for a ride and not risking my life on Cleveland street to get there. The good thing is that young riders like a fellow blogger Alex are thinking about the safety situation, so the future generation and all of us riding now will have safer riding conditions all round.

We finished our ride back at Centennial Park with a few laps to dust out any remaining cobwebs, and apart from the near miss it was a great ride which I will repeat next week. GE is getting some good kilometers in his legs through his training and it can only improve. Looking forward to some good riding this weekend, and it is going to be a swelter on Saturday morning with a top of 38 degrees predicted.

Let’s hope I am not writing another blog about near misses again any time soon.

%d bloggers like this: