Monday, July 28, 2008

Bolder on a folder.

I bought myself another bike. The Flying Pigeon was great but I went shopping and saw this six-speed for the equivalent of $A250 and thought it was a buy too good to resist. I sold the Mighty Pigeon to a mate for about what I paid for it.

It's a Dahon folding bike. I've not had a folder before and I'm very impressed. It's a Chinese-market only model and some of the running gear is a bit average, but it goes like a rocket, goes round corners like a greased rat and is very comfortable to ride. Hopefully it will go in the bag without too much of a struggle.

The picture to the left is taken inside the Olympic precinct yesterday. A couple of us managed to find a checkpoint which somehow allowed us into the heart of the Games. There was nobody else about and for about 20 minutes we had the place to ourselves as we zoomed down empty road past deserted venues. In 11 days time these will be packed with athletes, officials and spectators. We didn't see anyone much apart from security staff until passing out through the gate near the Main Press Centre, where I work.

I put a bike computer on the bike today. Now all I need is a bell and I'm set. Off to the Summer Palace in the morning. I reckon it's about 30km each way, which should be fun in the 35 degree heat.

3,298km so far this year.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yet another bike.

If you're ever lost in Beijing, I highly recommend you follow this bloke. He looked like he knew you select the bike and the store mechanic where he was going, which happily was the rough direction of my hotel.

I bought a cheap bike at the supermarket today . Getting to the supermarket involved a somewhat lengthy cab ride across Beijing - which cost a total of $3 Australian. Inside, as a good proportion of the city's 15 million shoppers play dogem trolleys tightens a few bolts while you go and find the cashier and go through the no language in common paying pantomime. You then collect the bike and wheel it through the supermarket crowds in search of an exit. Lots of fun.

As you can see from the photo below it's a pretty stunning machine. For $80 I'm pretty happy with it. One gear, 26 inch tyres, reasonably comfortable saddle. Hopefully it will last the duration of my stay.

Beijing has wide cycleways at the side of every road. Cyclists seem to be able to ride in either direction on either side of the road, which sounds chaotic but works ok as nobody goes too fast. Cars and buses sound their horn to give you warning they're approaching and give you time to get out of the way. Intersections are a little chaotic but I either walk or wait for someone who looks like a local - which is pretty much everyone at present.

Chinese bike aficionados will note my mighty steed is from the venerable Flying Pigeon stable. Foolishly I declined a basket, something I regretted almost as soon as I got out of the store. I'll tyr to pick one up in the next few days. It will be a handy place to put a camera.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bicycles of Beijing

I'm in Beijing for the next five weeks for work. After arriving late last night, a few of the people in my group were able to do a nice stroll through part of town today for a look around. While there are a lot of cars, there are also bikes of every type everywhere. Cargo bikes are particularly popular and there was lots of electric assisted bikes which glide along silently and at a fair clip along the generous cycleways.

Beijing is very flat, so I'm looking forward to buying myself a bike in the next day or so to get around and see the sights in the next few days before it gets too busy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Yet more sensible advice.

I'm pretty much learning everything I need to lean about cycling these days from the New York Times. It's going to put a lot of bloggers out of business if this keeps up. I did mention a while two specific stories a couple of posts ago, but the regular blog The Climb rates as one of the most hilarious things I've read for a long time. It's full of good advice, like this from the comments section:

Be sure to reattach your brakes after any repair or maintenance. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s found him(her)self hurtling down a hill looking for an escape route after this mistake.
— Posted by Robert Bott

Natural selection at work folks.

2,987km so far this year.