Sunday, September 23, 2012

Online shopping

I'm a huge fan of online shopping. Living in the wilds of rural Tasmania, I don't always have time to get to the bike shop during weekdays and on the weekend they're too far away. Going online is a terribly convenient way to shop.

That having been said, when I do buy online, particularly from offshore, I feel bad about not supporting my local bike shop. It's a case of use it or lose it and we need to support our local retaillers or we'll have noone to blame but ourselves when they're gone. (On a not unrelated and totally self-interested note: support your local newspaper too. Same reasons apply.)

With all that in mind I'm delighted to discover that Australia's greatest bike shop Abbotsford Cycles has a stunning new website and offers online ordering. In my admittedly biased opinion, Abbotsford is the best bike shop in Australia for people with an audax or touring bent to find their gear. And anyone else. Their Brooks saddles have always been keenly priced and there's a bunch of other specials on there too. I highly recommend Abbotsford Cycles for all your cycling needs. They're a long time supporter of the Audax club in Victoria and damn fine folk to boot. If you can't get to one of their the stunning shops, give their online store a try. I will be placing my order as soon as I finish this post: for some Boeshield T9 lube and some of that lovely-looking Phil Wood grease I've always wanted.

3075km so far this year.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Too windy to ride.

Too windy to ride today with winds of 50km/h predicted and gusts usually 50% above that. It's enough to knock a man from his trusty steed. This was the be a week of cycling up the West Coast of Tasmania, but it wasn't going to be a pleasant trip so it has been put on hold for the time being. So instead I've decided to clean up the shed and patch some tubes which have been sitting too long waiting for some attention.

My effort to tidy up my tools has left me rather chuffed. It doesn't seem like much but it's cleaned up the bench and has made my tiny working space much neater and far more organised than it was.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Long term review Grand Bois Cerf 700x28c tyres

Like their slightly wider counterparts, the Grand Bois Cerf's are a very nice tyre. They're light and supple and roll beautifully. I've done almost exactly 1200km on the set I bought from Compass Bicycle in June and I'm very impressed. With a heavy heart I'll be taking them off the bike today though - they're just to prone to punctures for my liking.

The Grand Bois tyres in general are a lovely tyre. They roll beautifully and seem to go even better up hills, which is where I need help the most. They run nicely at a range of pressures - from 80psi for cruising around town and on unsealed roads to 100psi for spirited audax riding. But I suspect one of the things that makes them so delightful to ride - the seeming lack of any sort of puncture protection within the tread - is also the source of their greatest downfall. Most modern tyres have a thin strip of material, often kevlar, sandwiched between the tread layers. It tends to reduce punctures but also adds weight, reduces the suppleness of the tyre and very slightly increases rolling resistance.

For some reason, the Cerfs haven't worn particularly well for me. After only 1200km of use on sealed road and bike paths the rear tyre is worn far more than I would expect. I'd estimate that tyre had another 1000km of travel left in it, which is a real shame for a $60 tyre.

Whether it is related to the wear problem is hard to say for certain but I've also suffered a series of punctures with these tyres - four in the last month. At first I suspected that the problem was my failure to properly find and fix the root cause of the first puncture but looking at the tubes I've spent this morning repairing, each of the tiny pinhole punctures has happened in a different spot. One seems to have been caused by a tiny piece of glass, another by a small piece of wire. I suspect that many modern tyres would have shrugged these off. The Grand Bois Cypress suffered a similar run of flats before I hung them up too but I put that down to back luck. I guess I'm a slow learner. Four punctures in a month is more than I've suffered in the last couple of years and it's why I'll be sadly handing up the Cerfs and putting the Continental Gatorskins back on. A much lesser tyre, but at least I'll be spending more time riding and less time changing tubes.

2942km so far this year.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Spring into Seymour 2012

Crossing Kirwan's Bridge. It's never been ridden, not even for a dare. 
Spring means the Spring into Seymour. I've fronted up for this lovely ride four times before, although have only started three times due to the major floods which saw the ride cancelled in 2010. I did the 200km on my own in 2006, before backing up for the 160km ride in 2007 and 2009. This year, for reasons I forgot to enquire about, the shorter distance had been cut to 120km, missing out the delightful section containing the Locksley Pub.

I caught the plane up on Friday afternoon and rode from the airport. Having done the "box bike in Hobart, unbox bike in Melbourne, ride away" routine several times before I'm getting a bit better at making a somewhat smooth getaway. I headed to Broadmeadows Station, from where I caught a train to Seymour and checked in to the caravan park for a chilly night in the world's coldest cabin.

Up for breakfast, I met Steve and Ken and John shortly before the start. It was a cool and clear day with little wind, so we set off like cut cats, stopping only to fix a puncture I suffered about 40km in. We had a brief break at Nagambie before continuing the thundering pace towards the bakery at Murchison. When we reached the decrepit Kirwans bridge, I realised I had the camera with me but the memory case was missing. Using the onboard memory, I was at least able to get the traditional walking across the bridge shot which I seem to take every year along with a couple of other to remember the ride by.

If they were so convinced I wasn't going to get the shot, why did they smile?
Now over the morning I thought we were doing ok, and we were, but the hidden ingredient in our stunning outward speed on the slightly downhill course was a gentle tailwind, which lifted slightly as we turned back into it. As usual on this ride, I'd gone out a little hard so the return trip wasn't quite the athletic tour de force I might have hoped for. In truth, it was probably a few things combining - this being the longest ride on the Thorn so far, a lack of fitness, a bit of excess weight on the rider, all ganged up to make the final 40km a bit of a trial. The Lairs were very patient as I flagged, then rallied, then flagged again, but we eventually made it back to Seymour in a respectable time. Perhaps it was just as well we were doing 120km and not 160km.

On the bright side, apart from the puncture, the bike didn't try to kill me. I replaced the cransket and cassette and chain with brand new ones and the drivetrain problems which pitched me over the handlebars seem to have gone. Having eliminated every other possible cause, I measured the chain after my last accident - and it was well outside the limit of the measuring gauge and should have been replaced months ago. Another lesson learned.

I can't say I've finished a 120km ride quite so buggered for many years. Every part of me seemed to hurt at the end and I'm not sure I was making much sense over the celebratory beers. Nevertheless after a huge meal of pizza and a big sleep I somehow managed to ride back out to the airport for my flight home on Sunday after another wonderful weekend of riding in country Victoria.

2911km so far this year.