Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sneaky Steve in the shadows

I've been slack with my blogging: I have escaped the mainland, and I'm having a holiday and it's somewhat cold down here!

Sneaky Steve managed to give me one last big laugh before I left though. The mob I've been riding with: the Lancefield Lycra Louts, also known as the Lancefield Lairs, turned out for a ride on the last Sunday I was in Melbourne to see me off. Amid the usual trash talking, sudden hill sprints and mug lair riding, Steve decided tried something very special.

We were about 40km in when Steve took off like a rocket. He went past Ken and I at a rate of knots. I was just able to catch up and hold his wheel for a few seconds before deciding to let him go, or running out of puff, I forget which.

We knew he was up to something. The question was what? As we neared Lancefield, the anticipation was mounting. My bet was that he'd commandeered a fire hose and was going to give us all a spray. The tension was unbearable. But nothing happened.

A few minutes later Steve called Andy on his mobile phone. It turns out that Steve had been hiding up a driveway en-route and was planning to give us all a big surprise. His hiding place was so good that not only did we not see him, but he didn't see us. Steve slunk into town ten minutes later amid much laughter.

I've really enjoyed riding with the Lancefield mob, I've had more fun with them in the last few months than I can remember having on a bike before. Every time I go for a ride, I think of them. I'm hoping for a lot more rides and a lot more laughs together in the future. Until we ride together again guys, I'll miss you all.

2,971km so far this year.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fun in the mud and rain

The principles behind the Cyclic Navigator are very simple. You jump on your bike with a map and compass and have five hours to pick up as many of the marked controls as possible. Sound simple?

I had a great time and only make two mistakes all day. The first was turning right when I should have turned left. Suddenly I found myself on a long, fast, downhill run which ended at a dam which was in exactly the opposite direction to where I wanted to be. My second mistake was not doubling back to where I went wrong and sticking to my plan. In my cleverness I tried to make up a new plan on the spot and that's where is all turned to custard. It seems it's hard to make good decisions when your wet and cold and tired. Who knew?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I had the benefit of hindsight's full measure as I sat in the bath with the map and a beer last night, trying to soak off the mud. Of the piddling 170 points I managed to score - 150 of them were in the first three hours and only 20 after that. Obviously I need some more practice at mountain bike orienteering. (I see there's a MTB-O event down in Tassie not long after I get there.) And well done to Andy, Glo and Ken, who put in a stunning effort with 380 points. Steve was a bit sad he couldn't ride yesterday. He was a lot less sad when I told him how much fun he would have had if he'd ridden with me!

On the bright side, the new bike is a joy to ride. There was mud - lots of mud - rain, dirt roads and singletrack and the bike was fantastic all day. Even the saddle was comfortable. Despite not going all that well, I really had a great time. Honest. Less fun is cleaning all the mud off everything.

The photo at the top left is me competing in the 2DayFM triathlon about 22 years ago. I still ride the same bike, although it's red these days. I've been going through some old photos and found a few old cycling shots.

2,793km so far this year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New toy

I decided to buy a proper mountain bike. I'm in the Cyclic Navigator on Sunday and I had some extra money and I'm moving to the wilds of Tassie, so I decided to treat myself.

It's a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp from a mob called Total Rush in Melbourne. I didn't get a chance to ride after being fitted to the bike and taking it away yesterday, but was able to go out for a fang before work this morning.

I was a bit the worse for wear after four of us held what we described to our boss in Sydney as an 'offsite senior staff meeting" yesterday. Non-journalists would probably describe it as a 12 hour two-fisted piss up. I was in no fit state to ride the bike when I staggered out of the pub at midnight, but I somehow bounced back and hit the dirt trails along the Yarra early this morning. I really had a great time getting used to the suspension and the big fat tyres, riding up and down trails that would normally have me baulking.

I have five weeks off from next Friday. I leave Mebourne the following Monday. I'm really looking forward to testing this bike out on the forestry trails of Southern Tassie. And giving up drinking!

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Grey Lady gets on her bike

A wise person, whose name I can't be bothered Googling once said "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come". The New York Times seems to have taken a sudden interest in bicycles with two pretty good articles in a bit over a week.

First, someone called Jocko Weyland waxes lyrical about the rise of the fixed gear bike. Then there's today's piece on the growing popularity electric assisted bicycles. Both articles are interesting and overwhelmingly positive discussions of two quite different aspects of cycling. Good press! Enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

But did he get some miles in?

Like most right-minded people I regard exercise bikes - along with treadmills - as signs of latent deviency. As usual, it turns out that I'm right. Full points to the bloke for quick thinking though:

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A gang stripped a South African man before supergluing him to an exercise bicycle while they ransacked his house, according to a report Thursday.

SAPA news agency said the attackers, dressed in suits, hijacked a man in his 50s and forced him at gunpoint to take them to his home in Johannesburg.

"The victim was then forced to strip, after which he was superglued to the seat of an exercise bicycle, his hands were superglued, as were his feet and then his mouth was superglued shut," SAPA quoted Mark Stokoe, a spokesman for emergency services Netcare 911, as saying.

The man was rescued about three hours later when his partner arrived home, SAPA said.

Now I'm no detective, but it sounds to me like his girlfriend got home early and he had to reach for the old "Bad Men Broke In, Made Me Do This At Gunpoint, Then Ran Away Leaving No Trace Except A Very Rude Movie In The DVD Player" excuse. We've all used that one before. I'll bet they made him get drunk too. As an excuse it's versatile and so very plausible, but you can only use it the once.

2,725km so far this year.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The bikes of the future

I stumbled across this 1954 British Cycling magazine article (pdf 4.6mb) while cruising the web the other day - a look forward half a century to the bicycles of the year 2000.

It's a fascinating read. In some areas the guesses are spot-on: between them they've predicted disk brakes, twist-grip gears, aluminium and carbon frames, eight speed gears, the demise of the cottered crank and the dual suspension mountain bike, years before they became a reality. In other areas they're way off: the adoption of shaft drives and constantly variable gearing remains a dream; we haven't standardised around 24 inch wheels and bad drivers, bad roads and punctures remain a constant.

My favourite prediction was the super-metal for frame building to come from atomic power research. Putting together a few of the more radical ideas would make a cracking ride - but sadly none of the major manufacturers seem to have come up with a gyroscopically-controlled uranium-framed recumbent! Maybe next year.

2,651km so far this year.