Tuesday, November 18, 2008

People who have tried to kill me #2243

The photo on the left shows the Metro bus which came within 20cm of knocking me off my bike on the way home tonight when he tried to slip between me and a right-turning car on a narrow bend. Bus versus bike, gee I wonder who would have won that one?

It's a little ironic he's got a sign on the back saying "Please give way, it's the law." I think there's a law about unsafe overtaking too. Maybe I should get a sign saying: "Please don't carelessly run me over, you fucker - it's the law".

5,111km so far this year.

Postscript: After complaining via e-mail I had a very nice phone call from a Metro representitive who said the driver remembered the incident and had asked to pass on his apologies.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Channel Challenge 110km

This blog seems to get hits from all round the world, so the chances are some readers might be a bit far away to take part in next weekend's Channel Challenge 110km Audax. My condolences. A rainy weekend at home means I'm busy putting the word out and finalising the details for what promises to be a superb ride.

If you're in Huonville and have nothing else planned next Sunday, here's the details:

The ride traverses some of southern Tasmania's most scenic waterfront roads with four major climbs as it passes from Huonville through Cygnet over to Kettering and back around the Channel. A moderate/hard ride with 1500m of ascending. There is also a 50km option for riders seeking a shorter day in the saddle.

The ride starts from the Huon Jet Boat Base at 8am - turn left just before the Huon River bridge if you're coming from the north. Plenty of parking, toilets and a 24-hour service station nearby. Be there by 7.30am to register. Entry is $10, $5 for Audax Australia members. The ride is unsupported and has a time limit of seven hours. Riders will need to to be self sufficient and of reasonable fitness.

Maps here and here, entries here, enquiries here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Numbers ate my brain

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows it consists of a lot of thinking out loud. I've been keeping track of the amount of money I spend on fuel lately, more out of interest than anything. All it has done is scare me. I drive a small car and average 8.1 litres per 100km on the hilly drive in the direction of work. Depending on the amount of time I have most days I ride the last 10km. Even though fuel prices seem to be going down for the moment, having a clearer idea of how much my car is costing has me wondering how much getting rid of it would save.

Having a look at the 2008 RACT running cost figures which best match my car, I'm spending about 12.5c per kilometre on fuel, about 0.7c per kilometre on tyres and about 5c per kilometer on servicing and repairs. So that's 18.2 cents per kilometre. On average, I ride around 100km a week I would have otherwise driven, saving me $18.20. I suspect I spend a bit more than that on bike bits!

At the moment, my car is costing me the above costs, plus the fixed costs: about another $24 a week in rego, insurance, licence and RACT membership. I drive an average of 25,000km a year, so all-up the car I own outright is costing me $5,792, a year, around $110 a week or 23 cents per kilometre.

Now, I'm going to need a new car in a couple of years - an expense I now don't want to even think about. If the RACT figures are right, even a cheap car will depreciate by at least $60 a week over five years, will cost $1,250 a year to keep road legal and insured, around $5,000 to fuel and another $5,000 in loan repayments: $14,272 dollars a year. And people say my bike habit is keeping me poor! The rough cost of a new car is going to be about 60 cents per kilometre.

It's got me thinking: maybe I won't t buy a new car and ride instead. Or delay the purchase by a year. At 20km/h I'd be saving about 12 dollars an hour.

5,023km so far this year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

First they came for the people without spare light brackets...

The Audax-Oz e-mail list is an enjoyable exchange of views from like-minded people and unusually for the internet has a very high signal to noise ratio. The posts are generally either informative or witty or both. I have a fairly busy life like many people and it's the only e-mail list I subscribe to but every so often the it throws up a debate which generates a level of passion I just can't understand or feel for any topic really.

It's never the life and death things but almost always something any sane person would consider trivial. For some reason the rules surrounding night riding drive some people lose all sense of perspective. Keep in mind that a large proportion or Audax riders seldom, if ever, ride at night.

Some time ago, the list was aflame with a debate about whether the club should adopt a rule requiring reflective anklets on night rides. Within a few exchanges came this:

"I'd suggest you pull your bottom lip over your head and swallow."

Right on brother! The most recent heated discussion on a new rule which means riders must carry a spare light bracket for each of the two spare lights which are already required. Someone asked for an explaination. What followed was an exchange of more than 78 e-mails by my rough count.

"This comment is just rude and offensive and has no place in a forum such
as this."

Ah yes, once again the reaction has been shrill, the emotions insane. For some people this new rule is nothing more than the cold hand of creeping fascism.

"It's not a democracy if we all leave the club and only the power mongers remain."

It's not like the change was sprung on members. It was decided by the club's elected committee, publicised in the magazine sent to all members months ago and passed when it attracted not a single comment. Those sneaks!

"I am also upset at the lack of consultation & explanation on the change."

Let's be clear what exactly is at stake: the old rule required riders to have a front light and a rear light fitted to the bike and a spare of each.

"These useless nitpicking objections to independent light mounts are, at least embarrassing, and at worst, destructive."

The new rule means you need to have a front light and a rear light fitted to the bike, a spare or each and a spare mount for each. Too onerous?

If you don't like the rules or can't be bothered being part of the club's democratic policy making join a different club or a group for minimalists."

An extra 30 grams or so has caused a storm of protest from the rule weary. And so it comes to this:

"If you want to have your will imposed on the membership without contest, then maybe it is you who should leave the club and join one more suitable to your ambitions, say the Nazi party..."

We have a winner. One minute we're talking about light brackets, the next we're calling each other Nazis. You have to love the internet. I'm one of those people who think there's too many rules in life, but I really hope I pick my fights better than this. Mind you, that club for minimalists sounds like fun.

"Moreton Bay is full of White Pointers."

Now I'm just being selective.

5,007km so far this year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I'm not made of sugar.

We have had a couple of rainy days this week and even though we've enjoyed only light spring showers, I've saw hardly anyone else riding on my commute to or from work on Thursday and Friday. Admittedly Friday afternoon was mildly wet, but the morning was lovely and sunny and on Thursday it didn't rain at all, though rain was forecast and there were darkish clouds overhead. Instead of the usual 20 or 30 cheery souls out and about I saw maybe two. Perhaps the resolve of the summer hordes who appear after daylight savings begins has flagged a little.

It's funny how a little rain scares so many cyclists off, because a one or two hour ride in the rain is generally a very pleasant experience as long as you keep moving and stay warm. Once you're wet you're not getting any wetter. The traffic slows down a little and high-pressure tyres make a lovely noise on wet pavement. Yes, you have to relube your chain and wipe the bike down afterwards but that small additional effort is well worth it in my opinion.

I reckon I get rained on about three or for times a year when I'm out on the bike. On days when the forecast is truly horrible I tend to pass, but in Tasmania if you wait for the weather to be prefect you'll wait a long time to get a ride in. Getting wet on the way to work is more of an inconvenience that getting wet on the way home, because you have to put wet clothes on again to ride at the end of the day.

Speaking of weather, it's the BikeTas Big Ride tomorrow - 100km around the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. It's blowing a gale out there at the moment, and while the forecast is for fine conditions, I'm going regardless.

4,876km so far this year.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Doing what he loved.

A sad story, but still somewhat amazing an 83-year-old man was still throwing a leg over the bike on a ride that's 56km at its shortest. I hope I've got another 43 years of riding half-centuries left in me.

83-year-old man dies in bike crash

An 83-year-old man has died after crashing his bicycle during the Sydney to Wollongong charity bike ride. Police said the man fell off his bike after his pedal clipped a traffic barrier on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul about 12pm yesterday. The Terrigal man suffered major head injuries, including multiple skull and facial fractures. An off-duty paramedic and ambulance officers treated him at the scene. He was taken to Wollongong Hospital, but died shortly before midnight with his family at his bedside.

4,772km so far this year.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The bike that ebay bought.

October wasn't a good month for me on the bike (or on the blog). I barely made the 400km mark for the month and my (revised) goal of 6000km for the year isn't looking flash. Without regular Audax riding like I had in Victoria, I have commute every day to keep my miles up. Fortunately I quite enjoy this.

I've been thinking about a new road bike for a while. I've put nearly 20,000km on the Surly and it's a fine bike, but it does have some annoying features - like the cantilever brakes which I grew sick of and a very long wheelbase. I was looking for something a tad lighter too, although it's a fool who thinks a new bike will make him a better rider.

I kicked around a huge range of options, from buying a new bike like one of the flash new Malvern Star carbon racers, to refurbishing an old steel frame, to buying something like a Richey Breakaway online. The collapse of the Aussie dollar made the latter too expensive, and while I was keen on the old steel frame idea, it was going to involve a fair bit of hassle for an uncertain result. And carbon? Well I just don't think I'm gentle enough for a carbon frame and I worry how well it would travel in a bike box in the guts of a plane. Another case in point: a week ago Mrs Surly Dave drove my car under a bottle shop awning with the steel bike on top. Luckily it survived with a couple of scratches, I'm scared to think what would have happened to a carbon bike.

Getting a new bike meant cleaning out the shed. After selling a while heap of vintage Campagnolo racing gear on ebay, I was ready to go shopping. I settled on a Bianchi Via Nirone frame in mid-life crisis red from a local bike shop. It's nothing flash, but it's designed to be comfortable for long rides as well as sporty for commutes and even racing if I feel like it. After a few rides ironing out the fit, I'm glad to say it rides like a dream and is a worthy successor to the much-loved Surly Cross Check.

4,867km so far this year.