Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Goals, the exceeding thereof

Another mighty milestone tumbles - the 6,000km mark for the year was surpassed last night in stunning style somewhere along Footscray Road. With my obsession with milestones and statistics I'd make a good cricket fan!

There looms a challenge so great, no sane person would consider it all at once: the Jump the Gun 600km at Maryborough this weekend. It's my second Paris-Brest-Paris qualifying attempt. That's right folks: ride your bicycle 600km in 40 hours in a bid to qualify for a the chance to ride 1,200km in 90 hours on the wrong side of the road in a distant foreign land. How I was delivered into the grip of this madness I shall never know, but here goes nothing anyway. Ten per cent of my annual mileage in two days: good job I've got Monday off work!

Monday, November 20, 2006

From one addict to another

Riding to work this morning past the Bureau of Meteorology building in Collins Street, I was lucky enough to ride through a cloud of smoke from the coven of addicts who huddle outside their front door, rain, hail or shine. Mmmm, cigarettes.

As an ex-smoker the only thing I miss more than smoking is the the lectures from people who can't mind their own business on how bad the habit is for one's health, but I can see how the temptation to moralise is hard to resist.

Five years after kicking the habit and taking up regular exercise I feel a thousand times better. Despite the occasional lapse, regular cycling is pretty much incompatible with regular smoking and I'm healthier and richer as a result. As much as I miss smoking, I've found something even more addictive.

5,926km so far this year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Those immortal words.

Zooming through Docklands this morning with the wind at my back, I decided to be a bit more mature than usual and not engage in the hell-for-leather commuter races along the cycleway. As a trio of us pedalled sedately past the driveway of one of the big Harbour Esplanade apartment blocks, a motorist ignored a stop sign painted red and errected just for him, drove out right in front of us and stopped across our path.

I was able to stop in time, but the bloke in front of me hit the bonnet square-on at about 25km/h. Still attached to the bike, he did the most magnificent of slow-motion somersaults across the front of the car, coming to rest on the ground in front. We all stood agape as the driver leapt from his vehicle and uttered those immortal words:

"Sorry, mate, I didn't see you."

It's the ending you can always see coming, brought to you by the folk who don't see you coming. As a piece of performance art it was a bit cliched, but what can one expect from amateur street theatre on a blustery spring morning in Melbourne?

The most remarkable thing about the whole incident was that the rider was apparently unhurt and his trusty vintage steel-framed 10-speed appeared entirely undamaged. Not a mark on him and he didn't hit his head. The car came off far worse, with some lovely panel damage. Try that one one of those fancy carbon fibre bikes.

They say you should count on having one decent prang a year. I'm well overdue.

Huffy Radio Bike at top left found on Dave's Vintage Bicycles.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Look, up in the sky!

The ingenuity of mankind has no bounds - particularly when it comes to the bicycle. There's no end of permutations, accessories and adaptations for the humble two wheeler. Some are more obvious than others. While I had a distant memory of the old Glossamer Albatross, which crossed the English Channel in the late 1970s - like many people - I hadn't given much thought to flying bikes.

A visit to Treehugger tipped me off to the wonderful White Dwarf pedal powered blimp. A lovely concept. From there, it wasn't a big jump to the ParaCycle - surely one of the most delightful aircraft ever to fly. Simply ride it to the airstrip, deploy the airfoil and fly off. No licence required. These two join the countless bikes, velocars and recumbent trikes on my 'Must Have If I Ever Get Rich' list.

5,750km so far this year.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The long and windy road

14 hours in the saddle is a long time, but the Bendigo Bounty now has a tick next to it in my rides list. 300km is a long way, but now one of the four rides I need to complete before April to qualify for the Paris-Brest-Paris is done.

We started at 9am, so I was aiming to finish by 1am. As it turned out, I didn't get back to Bendigo until 2.30am, thanks to a couple of longer breaks I took along the way. The main thing was that I was inside the 5am cutoff. My riding time was 14 hours and 7 minutes, for an average of 21.6km/h. The ride was flat, but strong winds made it hard. The highlight was riding through the Mallee country under a full moon and a big sky full of stars. The bike didn't miss a beat all day either.

I can admit to one moment of despair. I was riding along into the wind at the 240km mark, giving my all. I noticed on my speedo that I was doing 10km/h. I stopped and told my riding companions that I wasn't going to make it at that speed. They pointed out we were going up a hill. It can be hard to tell in the dark. I rolled on and 30 seconds later the downhill on the other side dispelled all thoughts of quitting.

Surprisingly, I'm in reasonable condition today. Some slight stiffness and soreness, but far less than normal. Eight hours sleep and a good meal seem to have restored me like new. Now to find a 600km ride.

5,688km so far this year.

Twisted bike image from Flickr.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

An unfortunate monopoly on punctures.

I haven't had a flat tyre since the Great Puncture Epidemic of 2004. Yesterday I suffered two. It's probably something to do with the new skinny high-pressure tyres.

The first was on the way to work and easily fixed. I carry two spare tubes. The second happened on the way home. It was then I discovered I my second spare tube had a hole in it. And my old patch kit glue had evaporated. Bugger.

Dozens of other riders went past without offering any help - including a chap in full audax reglalia. (I'll be catching up with him soon I hope.)

With little choice, I cast off my shoes and started pushing the bike the 10km back to my car. After about 2km, I came across a service station which happily sold bicycle puncture kits. I must be out of practise because I wasn't having any luck fixing the flats. Then my aging pump pulled the valve stems out of the two repaired tubes. I gave up as darkness loomed and rang for a cab back to my car. I didn't get home until 9pm and now have some pretty nice blisters on the soles of my soft little feet from walking on the tarmac. Yesterday was not one of my happier days.

I was at the bike shop first thing this morning to buy five new tubes, a brand new patch kit and a new pump. I'd really rather not have another day like yesterday.