Sunday, October 21, 2007

A bike for Mrs Surly

On one of the lists I subscribe to the other day someone was asking whether they should buy a steel or a carbon frame to replace a frame they'd damaged in a crash. I'm not dogmatic on the subject, but a something occurred to me while pottering in the shed over the course of the weekend.

I've been doing up a bike for Mrs Surly Dave, who says I never go riding with her. Currently her only bike is a fat-tyred 26' tourer, which is a lovely bike for long slow days with a load, but not so good for short speedy trips for fun and fitness' sake.

Now we're not exactly flush with cash at present. A new bike was out of the question and despite the fact that there seems to be a lot of good deals available around the place I thought we could do something better without spending too much money. Mrs S had an old steel road frame she'd hung onto from the days when she did triathlons. Although she'd ridden it from time to time, it was in need to a spruce up. I spend $80 having it powder-coated, and another $100 on a new front derailleur and swapped over some of the parts from my bike which I didn't need any more and viola - as good as new.

My point I guess, is that as lights and expensive and wonderful as carbon fibre and other exotic materials are, I can't see a carbon frame lasting 20 years, let alone surviving two decades being shifted from shed to shed and generally ignored. Steel frames on the other hand, aren't bothered by this sort of treatment and come up as good as gold after a lick of paint and a bit of TLC.

We'll probably go for a ride next weekend and see if the old bike rides as good as it looks.

4,954km so far this year.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Once around the Channel

Southern Tasmania turned on every imaginable type of weather except snow for the Bicycle Tasmania 100km ride around the D'Entrecasteaux Channel region today. We had rain, bright sunshine, howling wind. There were hills that never ended and a couple of motorists with homicidal intent. All the same it was a most enjoyable ride passing through some lovely countryside.

As a bonus, when I got home I stepped on the scales and I'm 100.1kg, which means my weight is heading in the right direction too.

4,833km so far this year.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

An open and shut case

Having made a couple of trips to the mainland with the bike now I'm getting a feel for what works and what doesn't when it comes to packing a bike for air travel. I've been using a tough Ground Effect Tardis bag for the trips which necessitates a air bit of disassembly and reassembly at the other end.

The biggest lesson I've learned is that taking care when packing really pays off. I wrap the frame tubes with pipe insulation and put pieces of cardboard between the wheels and the frame. Packing spare clothing in and around the components seems to help also. Despite the 'fragile' sticker on the outside, I suspect that the baggage handlers aren't too kind - in four flights I've racked up a broken bottle cage, a broken spoke, a damaged cable guide and some scratches on the paintwork. A hard case would probably do a better job, but the cost, size and bulk has turned me off the idea so far.

Enter the Surly Travellers Check. It's the same frame I'm riding now, but with two couplers to split the frame in two so the whole bike fits in an oversized suitcase. It's a great idea for the frequent traveller. It's out next year, so I might give it some serious thought, depending on the cost.

4.663km so far this year.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A ride in two halves

I rode the Mallee Routes last year on the Long Haul Trucker. I've done a few miles since then and upgraded the bike so I was really looking forward to this year's edition despite the fun associated with a putting the bike on a plane. Lancefield Lairs Andy and Glo and Steve came too, so it was always destined to be a good weekend. Even the drive up was a laugh riot. We considered the 300km ride, but settled for the 200km. It turned out to be a good choice. Though the weather was fine and warm, there was a stiff wind blowing.
We set off at the entirely unreasonable hour of 6am, zooming down the flat straight road to Warracknabeal then onwards to Birchip. Pushed by favourable winds, we averaged a brisk 25km/h+ as we knocked off the first 120km in well under six hours and stopped for a leisurely lunch. Cruising.
Then came payback time. The grind towards Sea Lake was not directly into the wind, but it still knocked the average speed way down and at times we were pushing to make 15km/h. And then we turned directly into the westerly. We spun into Woomelang for a break in the pub where three people were watching the ALF Grand Final. Tiring as we pushed small gears into the wind, we rolled-over the wheat-topped sand dunes to arrive back into Hopetoun for dinner and a few beers by 6.00pm, well within our 12 hour goal. The second 80km had taken more than five hours.
Another highly enjoyable ride, once again as much for the delightful company and the conversation as for the delightful small towns along the way and the Mallee scenery.
(Photo by Steve.)
4,663km so far this year.