Saturday, March 29, 2008

OK, now I've seen everything

The current bike worldwide boom is a good thing, nay - a great thing- but like most things in life it's not an unalloyed joy.

Twenty-odd years ago we had to deal with the sudden appearance of triathletes - strapping meat puppets immune to pain but barely smart enough to to steer around corners. Then came the mountain bikers and they were mostly ok. Now come the fixed gear riders and I'm coping pretty well with that. Each group bought some cultural baggage with them to add to the rich mix that makes up the pasttime. But eventually matters must reach a point where even the most sanguine of us much cry: Enough! Ride the things, don't worship them as gods.

Without wanting to sound too much like Bike Snob NYC, have a bloody look at this: you can get paintings of bicycles from in New York. They even have gallery. WTF? WTFF?

For a mere $US600, you can buy a painting, oil on board, of Roberto's rain bike. Never mind that Roberto's rain bike is clearly a piece of shit you could buy for less than $US600 and still have enough money for some hooks to hang it on a wall at your place. (Also Roberto, get your brakes serviced, one of the calipers is badly bent.) For $US1500 you can buy Alana's Bike on paper. Look at it there, looking coquettishly over its shoulder at us. (Alana, baby, you need some brakes and some handlebar tape.) But hey, if that's too rich for your blood you can always buy a painting of a Tour de France water bottle for $300. Or you could buy 100 of the fuckers for real and have your own performance art party at home.

1,181km so far this year.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The shed as a goldmine.

I've been a bit short of cash of late, so I've been whacking some old bike bits on ebay. Cleaning out the shed has never been so profitable.

I have a fair few old bike parts I've had for 20 years or more which I'm unlikely to ever use again. It's mostly old Campagnolo stuff from when I was racing - I had expensive tastes even then. Some of it has some sentimental value, but it's hard to hang onto stuff when it's fetching good money online. The demand is amazing even for items I describe in great detail as worn or a bit rusty. There's nothing that hasn't sold. So far I've sold the old, worn 1983 Campagnolo Record pedals to the left for $60 and old pair of Suntour track pedals for $40 and a fairly ratty pair of Campagnolo non-aero brake levers for $40 as well.

This week I've unearthed a pair of Suntour Superbe road pedals. They're lovely smooth pedals, in good condition and they've already reached $50 ,which may well be more than I paid for them back in about 1985. I had no idea they would be such a good investment.

The best thing about it all is that this kit is going to people who will use and appreciate it. The downside is that the ebay fees take a decent bite and using their Paypal payment service means you lose even more - my total fees are running at slightly over 10%. But it's hard to complain too much when its turning stuff that was cluttering up the shed into dollars.

1,103km so far this year.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What's wrong with the Tour de France.

My cold and windy commute across the shoulder of Mt Wellington last night got me thinking about what the Tour de France really needs: a night stage. Forget that sissy day riding, any one can do that. Let's see how these tough guys go at night. Let's say a 350km mountain stage in the dark. Wouldn't that be a great prompt to see some breakthoughs in in the development of useful cycling gear, say for example bike lights?

1,005km so far this year.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hobart Century Ride

I had a fine old time at the Hobart Century ride on Sunday. It's always a jolly outing. There seemed a few more riders than last year too, although I didn't end up seeing too many of them after the start. There was a fair bit of lycra and carbon and shaved legs in evidence.

Riding at a moderate pace, I finished a shade over five hours, one minute slower than my time for last year. (If that rate of deterioration holds I'll be riding sub-six hour centuries well into my eighties which suits me fine.) It was a fairly hot day and I stopped a couple of times, once for an ice cream and once for a cool drink, so maybe I shouldn't have been too surprised there wasn't anyone much still around when I eventually finished!

I had some gear problems which meant I had to stop and manually move the chain down to use the small chainring, which was a minor inconvenience and a reminder of how it was done in the distant years before deraillieurs were invented. Gotta get that fixed before the Oppy. Well done to the crazy bugger who finished the course in 3:41 on a fixed gear. Well done that man indeed.

Suffering in the hills.

Riding hills are a bit of a test of truth for cyclists. Anyone can ride fast on the flat, that's why Beach Road in Melbourne is so popular, but there's no hiding any weaknesses when the road turns upwards. The steeper the hill the starker the effect. Being a larger person, the laws of physics conspire against me too. There are no top Tour de France climbers who weigh over 100kg.

And hills hurt. Always. The fitter you get the faster you go, but they still hurt the legs and the lungs. It's one of the reasons I've been avoiding some of the bigger climbs around home - of which there are plenty. But riding hills is a great way to toughen up.

I've hardly ridden at all in the last month. Driving to work makes a man fat, comfortable, weak and lazy. The short commutes I've been doing aren't enough to build much strength or endurance , so I've come up with a more challenging 40km round trip form Sandfly to Hobart via Ferntree. As a commute, it's almost perfect -scenic and low traffic. It has two climbs too, one one the way in of 7km and one of 12km on the way home. Over 20km there's more than 500m of climbing.

I rode it for the first time this morning and it's a test alright. Heaps less traffic than the

It's time to tackle my biggest weakness head on and harden up for the Oppy.

960km so far this year.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

There was a Mass of us.

Critical Mass came to Hobart last Friday. It was a lovely outing, though sadly I forgot my camera. There was around 250 riders, which is a good turnout for a first time event in my opinion and everyone was very well behaved.

Check out this editorial from the Mercury. (I actually missed it first time around, thanks to Tim for pointing it out.) It's nicely at odds with the sort of thing that appears in the Herald-Sun for example, but the ride was also different the mainland Critical Mass rides I've been in. Some extracts...

If Hobartians were expecting chaos at 5.51pm they would have been pleasantly surprised. It was no more objectionable than the Christmas Pageant, or the fun run or a forest protest march.
Apart from a couple of grumpy couriers for whom time is money and apparently more important that the life and limb of a cyclist or two, it was an uneventful exercise in civic protest.
Until drivers get the message that bikes have equal rights on the road, and that a few seconds of tolerance is all it takes the share the space, we will not have a bike friendly city.

Why does it feel ever so slightly odd? And a little proud.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A slow month.

February was a bit of a disaster for me. The Surly is off the road because I broke the shift lever on the way to the Alpine Classic, so I haven't been riding much. So not much blogging either. 105km for the month - my worst month since 2005. But two days into March I've passed that total already.

Still the break was nice and the last few days getting back onto the old red racer has been terrific. For some reason I decided to put some slightly wider handlebars on the bike and it's really transformed it from a far too twitchy racer to a much better behaved bike. Funny how the little things can make a difference. So many modern bikes have handlebars that are too wide, making them handle like barges.
My problem with this bike was the opposite, the bars were ideal for criteriums or for cutting through traffic but I don't do much of either of those these days.

Just over six weeks until the Oppy. It will take a bit more riding to get my fitness up to a level where I can do 360km in 24 hours I suspect. But even so I'm looking forward to it immensely.

763km so far this year.