Thursday, July 27, 2006

Time off.

A week off the bike. Bummer. The good part is knowing that next week, we have a week on the bike. We're off to Adelaide to ride on the the Mawson Trail for six days. I'd consider that to be adequate compensation for a week of inactivity.

Bought the girl a lovely set of panniers for the trip, from Summit Gear in Katoomba. They made them yesterday and shipped them to me where I'm staying in Hobart overnight. How's that for service? Thanks Brett!

They're lovely canvas bags, very similar to the 20-year-old Wilderness Equipment panniers I have, which I don't think they make any more.

And, speaking of the old fashioned and beautiful, check out this lovely classic French tourer. Mmmm.

3,237km so far this year.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Round and round we go.

Velodromes abound in Melbourne and surrounds, we're quite spoiled. Now that the track bike is back in one piece I'm back rolling around my favourites - Preston's 250m track with the uphill back straight, Castlemaine's lovely 500m asphalt loop that's flat and open to the wind and Coburg's maximum security concrete track set among the factories. Kyneton velodrome is my closest, it's a 250m asphalt circuit, a bit bumpy in parts and with a slight but nasty rise in the back straight that demands a bit more effort to maintain a constant pace.

Kyneton was the venue for my latest attempt at my own modest hour record: 30.14km set back in March last year at Castlemaine. (Two other cracks have both yeilded times a shade over 29km/h each.) If I was all that serious about it, I'd be embarrassed, because I've probably done faster hours on the road, but it's not a mark set in earnest. But the beauty of such a modest achievement is that there's seemingly endless room for improvement. The problem is that something always seems to slow me down a little. The wind is the usual culprit, or the arrival of some kids on mountain bikes who want to roll around the duckboards, someone training their slobbering idiot dog in the middle. There's always an excuse.

I started out too fast today and while my average was 34km/h for the first few kilometres, it was far too fast to keep up for long. Before too long, the kick each lap to hold my speed through the home turn was beginning to hurt. By 30 minutes I'd sagged dramatically and was looking for a reason to quit. The rain which started at the 40 minute mark was most welcome and I shall have to content myslef with a PB for the 20km (41:06, or 28.8km/h!) Laugh all you like, it would have been world record pace in, um, 1878. The hour record is safe, for now.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cold comfort.

Kev, my friend in Tasmania, and I have been in a sort of mileage 'duel' this year. He bought his bike about the same time I bought the Surly and he's been putting in the serious miles. We swap totals from time to time, not in a competitive way, but more by way of comparison and encouragement. The lead has changed many times, although of late with a couple of the century rides I've done I've drawn away just a bit. He'll probably overtake me in the next week or so as I'm off the bike for a few weeks due to work commitments interstate and then holidays.

It's not something I'd take too seriously though, because Kev wins by a mile on moral grounds. He does all his miles at night, in the dead of a Tasmanian winter, on the way to and from his night shift job. It's in the minuses most nights and he rides rain or shine. They make them tough in Tassie.

3,185km so far this year.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Winter wonder.

Though the day was cold and overcast, the Wandong Winter Wander, attracted a field of exactly 100 riders on Sunday - one-seventh of the nation's audax riders taking part in the one ride! Such a large turnout shows the strength of the club in Victoria, with 25 starters in the 200km, 12 starters for the 150km, 51 starters in the 100km and 12 starters for the 50km. It marks my ninth audax ride for the year, and the middle of my season. 1,150km down, 1,400km to go. The hard ones are yet to come!

I was happy to finish the 100km in under 5 hours, despite not feeling my best and the rolling hills in the last 30km. Early on, the group I was in came across a rider who'd just been knocked off his bike by another rider, who'd left the scene shortly afterwards. Help was called and he was off to hospital with a broken wrist. Otherwise it was a most pleasant day, grinding the big road bike gears across the undulations south of Seymour. My knees didn't thank me and I spent most of the ride on my own anyhow, so the road bike wasn't that much of an advantage. I suspect I'll be back on the Surly next time, for the benefit of the more comfortable ride and the granny gears on the triple crankset up the big hills. Although I've heard horror stories about it, I might give the Kinglake 100 a look this weekend.

It turns out there's a cult, or at least a mailing list of Surly Long Haul Trucker devotees. I'm waiting for a sunny day to take some photos of mine for the feature spot on the homepage. One of their rides shown above. Such devotion. Thankfully they stop short of giving their bikes names. That would be taking it just a bit too far.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The great race.

The BBC's Nigel Hallows blows the lid on The Great Race:

"I cannot claim to represent those faceless and unacknowledged opponents in the Great Race. A race, yes, but an unusual one in that most cyclists are not even aware it is taking place. This is ideal, for I am absurdly but secretly competitive and have an almost pathological need to be first away at the lights.

"The small number of cyclists who are in the know duel with great nonchalance and no acknowledgement of their opponent. The trick is to cycle at maximum speed until the point of overtaking, and then sit back in the saddle as you pass, looking straight ahead as if the mere breeze is carrying you forward.

"I even have a scoring system which gives double marks for passing anyone wearing Lycra. Overtaking a bike courier would theoretically score five, but I have never done it."

In the comments 'Simon' notes: "The first rule of The Great Race is that you never mention The Great Race".

Nigel will have to be hunted down - and overtaken with great nonchalance.

3,050km so far this year.

One more thing to covet

Saw one of these in the bike racks at work today, and only one word applies: sweeeet. A fast, light commuter with the new Shimano eight speed internal hub. They have an aluminium frame, skinny tyres, uber-cool black colour scheme. They're close to being an ideal town bike, although I'd consider mudguards and a hub dynamo to make it just perfect. I'd love to get hold of one of these hubs. Perhaps for the MTB project.

All in all a very stylish piece of kit, and they sell for under $1,000. If there wasn't a limit on how many bikes one can reasonably own, I'd seriously consider one. How much is that limit anyhow? I'd think four was enough - a bike for all seasons - but I'm beginning to think perhaps six.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bicycle bandits.

The Tour de France doping scandal aside, and Jobie Dajka's alleged cigarette theft notwithstanding, the criminal element in the cycling community have been active of late.

While the possibilities the bicycle offers as a getaway vehicle have never occurred to me, it seems some people would use nothing else. You choice of transport during a criminal enterprise says a lot about you as a person. Whether you're robbing a restaurant or firebombing a house there's no reason to add to global warming and traffic congestion at the same time. Say what you like, but the thinking criminal should display at least that much of a social conscience.

2,997km so far this year.