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Monthly Archives: August 2012

London 2012: Meet the Superhumans

I managed to catch some of ABC 2’s coverage of the Paralympic games last night, and I was really impressed with the amount of access the ABC has had to the athletes. I saw in depth interviews with Matt Cowdrey (S9 Swimmer) and Kieran Modra (vision impaired cyclist), and his pilot. Kieran in particular is totally inspirational. The guy had an accident and broke his neck about 8 months out from the Paralympics, and yet here he is, bringing home the gold in the men’s individual B pursuit. The athletes came across as down to earth, determined, and pretty damn honest. They didn’t look like they had been drilled on what to say. We didn’t just have to be satisfied with 30 second breathless interviews after their events either, so well done ABC 2 on that. The only problem is that the ‘panel’ consists of random non-sports commentators with usually one retired (or current) paralympian. I have found their banter a bit painful to watch. Let’s get to the sport, people!

So on to the sport, the Australians had a blazing first day!

Jayme Paris on the Velodrome

Susan Powell took the individual C4 pursuit at the velodrome (while clocking a new World Record) and Kieran Modra was fastest in the men’s individual B pursuit. Jayme Paris, who I am quite fond of after seeing a feature on her on SBS Cycling Central, broke the world record in the qualifiers for the C1 5k Individual Pursuit!

Jacqueline Freney won gold in the 100m S7 backstroke and Matt Cowdrey became Australia’s most decorated Paralympian after winning silver in the 100m S9 butterfly.

It seems like our Paralympians are out there doing us proud and will bring home a significant medal haul. If winning is what matters, why aren’t these guys front and centre on a mainstream TV broadcaster, like Channel 9? If only these guys could become household names like Stephanie Rice and Cadel Evans or Anna Meares.

The event I am looking forward to most though is the wheelchair rugby. I have been fascinated with it ever since I saw the film ‘Murderball’ which is about the US Wheelchair Rugby team. It’s not really big here, so the one game that I went to was pretty tame compared to the impact and speed of International level sport.

When I was watching the events last night, I thought I needed a bit more information about the classification scheme – the commentators were not much help. I found this nice article at ABC’s website here.

The paralympics are being aired on ABC 2 in Australia and Channel 4 in the UK. Check your local guides! Don’t miss any of it!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Olympics, Paralympics

 

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Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer: Weekend training rides

On Saturday I rode from Bayswater, to Scarborough via the city, then to North Fremantle down the coast, and back to Bayswater via the train line. Usually when I ride to Scarborough, I cut across various suburbs to the freeway, coming out near Cedric Street, then ride along Cedric, Beatrice and a few other streets to get to the coast.

Scarborough Beach

This time I decided to ride into the city, then follow the Mitchell Freeway path up to Cedric street, and I have to say, it was much more pleasant than riding the backstreets. It may also have been a good way to ride to Leederville the other night!

The only thing that might be hard is finding where the freeway North path actually starts! It had been a long time, but I picked up the path near the corner of Aberdeen Street and Fitzgerald Street.

Trying to get to the beach, I ended up riding a 200 metre stretch of Sackville Terrace which was 12.9% grade, according to Strava. I scored a Queen of the Mountain, but it seems I am the only female who has used Strava while cycling up that nasty little kicker!

It was a 70 kilometre day all up and it was a lot warmer than it has been lately, at 24 degrees Celsius. It took it out of me a bit, so I went to bed early. I missed some Saturday night alcohol fuelled shenanigans though.

On Sunday I went for a ride out to Bell’s Rapids via West Swan Road.

Brigadoon - a different horse

It’s always nice to go out that way, though it feels like a bit of a cop out to stick to the Swan Valley and not do any hill climbing!

Maali Bridge Park

I saw a kayaker hanging out near the Maali Park Bridge, on the way up to Bells. I saw him again in Guildford on the way back.

Bells - Sitella

There was a bit of water at Bells Rapids, but not a lot. It didn’t stop the hoards arriving, not long after I did. There were big groups of hikers heading off, and a few cars arrived with kayaks on top.

My Bike at Bells

It was a 54 kilometre day and I feel like my legs pulled up pretty well. At this point I feel like the 2 x 100km+ days in October will certainly be doable.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Charity Rides

 

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Subliminal Messages through Lego

Maybe I’m being sensitive here, and no doubt most people will have trouble seeing what I am on about, but it’s my blog so I am going to go off on my rant anyway.

I was browsing Fishpond for Lego toys when I came across something disturbing. For those who are not familiar with Fishpond, it’s like an Australian/New Zealand version of Amazon which stocks everything from books to toys to bicycles.

Anyway the first ‘Lego’ Ambulance product picture I saw was what created such an impression.

Playmobil Ambulance

As you can see – if you squint, sorry about the size, the display picture on a children’s toy depicts a bicycle rider as a ‘patient’ for the ambulance. To me that screams bicycles = dangerous. It probably wasn’t deliberate, just a visual representation of the deep-set safety obsession that we have these days. It’s a pity the patient isn’t an obese lego person having a heart attack, but I haven’t seen any overweight lego mini figures lately. Perhaps that is an idea for Lego, to reflect the changing body shapes of people in various Western countries?

Lego Ambulance

For some reason the Lego ambulance also comes with a bicycle, but the display box is not anywhere nearly as disturbing. It does appear that the patient was on the bicycle and is now sitting on the road. The Lego version also has a helmet included.

For some more ACTUAL bike related content, there is an awesome sidehack. Pity it hasn’t been available like, ever. They sell them at Walmart in the USA so I’m sure they aren’t the Rolls Royce of bikes, but how sweet would it be to give your mates a ride, or carry a carton with?

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Offbeat

 

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Double the Adventure: hiring a tandem bike in Perth

Please go to my new blog at perthcyclist.net to read this entry.

http://www.perthcyclist.net/blog/double-the-adventure-hiring-a-tandem-bike-in-perth/

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Tandem bikes, xtracycle

 

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Everyday Cycling: Lunch in Claisebrook Cove

Yesterday we went for a nice little ride into town, hired a tandem, rode the bridges, and then stopped for lunch at a lovely little spot called Claisebrook Cove.

The tandem experience is for another blog entry, but I thought I would share this photo because it’s pretty.

Claisebrook cove is really like a mini canal, dug out of the banks of the Swan River in East Perth.

I quite like Claisebrook Cove and it’s alfresco dining, because of unlike a lot of alfresco areas in Perth, you don’t have to put up with an endless stream of cars flashing past. All of a sudden there are a lot of bikes around as well.

It is not a cheap place to eat, by any means, but the atmosphere is great! The only thing missing was a visit from the Swan River dolphins.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Everyday cycling

 

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Human Powered Transport: The Elliptigo!

You may have seen ads for this rather silly looking bicycle substitute on TV. I thought it looked like hard work and not particularly practical as a mode of transport. In fact, the advertising seemed to just pitch this as an outdoor cross trainer so that you can escape the oppressive environment in your local gym.

elliptigo in the bike cage

I was really surprised to see it in the bike cage at work. Someone has obviously decided it would be good transport. Perhaps it is someone with back or shoulder issues that prevent them from riding a regular bicycle. I wonder if it’s presence will become a regular one. If I see it’s owner I will have to ask for a ride.

This one is more like a bicycle, in that it has two wheels, but you can also get another version called the ‘Street Stryder’ which is like a stand up tadpole trike.

I guess it’s good that people are striving to invent a better bicycle, but I’m not sure we are there quite yet!

 

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User Review: Bike Route Planning – Google Maps & Ride the City

One of the main challenges of using a bicycle for transport in a city with limited bicycle infrastructure is route planning. These are the tools which are meant to help. Being a low-density city Perth has the advantage of having a good network of quiet backstreets. The problem with backstreets are that you have to zigzag often to go where you need to while cars get to drive straight to their destinations. If you are making a transition from driving to cycling, it may take a bit of getting used to, as you might take driving down Whatever Highway for granted.

I will have to admit, I was a little bit excited when I saw that Google has activated their bicycle direction function. It is still in beta mode though, so I expected some hiccups. I also discovered ‘Ride the City’ from someone who commented on my ‘About’ page on this blog, and I’ve used it a couple of times, with mixed results.

So for the purposes of this review I decided to issue a challenge to both websites – to get me from my neighbourhood, Bayswater, to a bar in Leederville to meet my friends for an after work dinner and drink (Kitsch Bar, which is on Oxford Street).

The challenge is that the area is filled with some fairly major roads that I didn’t want to use, as it was a wet evening and as I was heading out there would have still been a bit of traffic heading home from work.

Google Maps

The first thing I did was enter the from and to addresses and hope for a miracle when I pressed the little bike button.

This was Google’s suggestion.

Google as usual offered 3 alternative options. The best, and closest to the route I used was the third and most direction option, which Google had measured at 8.3 kilometres, and estimated it would take 35 minutes which was remarkably accurate.

I took some different streets around Walcott Street to avoid riding down it for any length but really the google route was very close to what I actually did.

Ride the City

I had problems with Ride the City this afternoon. It has a handy ‘print’ option but it kept hanging and wouldn’t print. It was also stalling when I wanted to zoom in. To be fair this could be because I have an outdated browser at work, but Google worked, so it wins in the reliability stakes.

Ride the City offers ‘Safe’, ‘Safer’ and ‘Direct Route’ options.

The ‘Direct Route’ was pretty much identical to google’s route. The ‘Safe’ and ‘Safer’ routes were remarkably similar, and were 11.1 km instead of 8.3 km as they stuck to the principle shared path network and took you right in to the city and out of the city again to Leederville. I think the Safe/Safer options are far too conservative when the route that Google chose was really quite pleasant to ride along and very quiet. They might even put people off riding when they are a few kilometres longer.


What I did

Here is the route I actually took on Bikely.

Chelmsford Ave has crazy double parking almost the entire length of the street, I guess the houses there don’t have enough parking spaces. It makes it a little narrow for cars to squeeze through, effectively making a two way road into a one way road. This is OK on a bike because cars go slowly and it’s pretty easy to duck out of the way if there happens to be an oncoming car.

The crossings over the main roads are a bit of a problem though as there are no pedestrian refuges, I am not sure I would be able to get across if it was busy. Fortunately it was not as busy as I expected on the way out, and on the way back at 9:40pm on a weeknight there was barely any traffic!

Also, Oxford Street Leederville has great bike parking, there are U-rails bolted into the sidewalks everywhere, so I got to park directly outside of Kitsch. Big props to Leedy!

Conclusion

Both Google Maps and Ride the City – Perth are really useful tools for plotting routes. I probably wouldn’t bother with the ‘safe’ options on Ride the City though.

Ride the City seems less reliable than Google, but that is to be expected, but I think I will always visit RtC first just to support the new guy.

 

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Severe Weather Warning? No Worries.

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I got this trainer for my birthday last year – it’s an Elite Super Crono gel trainer and is super quiet but has good resistance. When I first got it I realised I needed an industrial fan to make up for the lack of wind in my hair, but now I have it set up with the fan it is awesome. Putting the trainer on a long rug means that I can just drag the whole setup (carefully) around the room.

I have never had any other trainers but the Super Crono seems like the real deal, and I saw them set up outside the GreenEdge bus during the Tour de France so they must be good. 

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Once you start riding you will never be ‘normal’ again…

Ah Facebook! A couple of weeks ago I saw that a friend-of-a-friend had posted “yay, I got a new job, bye bye stinky public transport, hello 3 minute drive to work”

I don’t know this person, and their security settings only allowed me to read their post but not reply, but I was thinking “WHAT THE? WHY BOTHER DRIVING 3 MINUTES!!!!”

There was a time in my life where I did drive 10 minutes to work. I would not even give it a second thought now. Say if you drive 3 minutes, and the average speed you are travelling at is 40 km per hour (which is pretty standard for urban/suburban areas when you take into account roundabouts, stop signs, traffic lights etc), then in 3 minutes you are going about 2 kilometres. That might be a bit far to walk, but you would barely notice it on a bike. Say you are a newbie, or have a cruiser bike and are riding very slowly at 15 km per hour, then it would only take you 8 minutes, and you aren’t going to need a shower, so it doesn’t matter if the employer doesn’t provide lockers/showers. No need to spend much on the bike either, so you don’t have to worry much about secure parking for it.

The bad news is the commute, only being 16 minutes a day isn’t going to quite get you up to the 30 minutes a day of exercise that is the BARE MINIMUM everyone should be doing. You will need to go for a walk at lunch time.

But seriously, why not ride?

 

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Australia’s Tall Poppy Syndrome ruins the Olympics: London 2012

pool

Australia is currently sitting 24th in the Olympic medal tally with 1 gold, 12 silver and 7 bronze. We are behind Ethiopia, the Ukraine, and perhaps the cause of most angst is that we are behind New Zealand.

In particular, the weight of expectation for our swimmers was high. James Magnussen did not bring home the expected gold medal. He stated in post swim interviews that he did not sleep the night before his races. The expectations were clearly weighing him down, but I also wonder what impact the ban on Stillnox just before the Games rolled around had on James. Grant Hackett (ex-swimmer, now commentator) had been on a rampage in his own family home and after a tearful (staged) apology the revelation that he had been abusing the sleeping pills caused our Olympic officials to ban Stillnox. It is quite feasible that James and other swimmers were using it to help them sleep before meets – it’s advantage is that it is fast acting, and doesn’t have the hangover effects of some other sleeping tablets. We won’t find out from James though, he would have been told to keep the sleeping pill stuff under wraps. Maybe it will all come out some time in the distant future, if anyone still cares.

Emily Seebohm was widely critisised for crying after she won a silver medal. People were telling her to harden up and stop being a spoilt princess. This is a bit harsh against a backdrop where the media are constantly analysing our lack of gold.

Also, I wonder if anyone has stopped to look at how the end of the ‘super suit’ in swimming has corresponded with Australia’s demise as a swimming nation? It may be a case of how good rules can put a damper on the ‘arms race’ and make the playing field a little more equal.

Maybe it has all been magnified by the TV coverage. Naturally they set up to cover the sports that Australia was most likely to medal in, which meant that viewers were subjected to hours of swimming coverage, swimming repeats, swimming interviews, swimming commentary. We did win a gold, right at the start, but with the perceived lack of ‘success’, the viewers became uninterested and tetchy that they were missing the sailing, hockey and other sports.

Our track cycling team has not been slammed as hard as the swimmers, though Twitter has allowed a rider to snipe over selection in the first place. After the Track World Championships in Melbourne, a punter would pick Victoria Pendleton to come in over Anna Meares in the Keiren and the Sprint. We are yet to see what will happen in the sprint, but if Anna gets silver I will still be happy to watch the contest! The same with Jason Kenny vs Perkins in the sprint, it should be a good contest, and isn’t that what the Olympics are about?

I do like social media, following Australian diver Matthew Mitcham on Facebook (I added him during the Beijing Olympics), has been great – just look up his Ukelele videos on Youtube. The problem is that it gives all the knockers, the people who will take any excuse to cut down the tall poppies, a voice. On balance, I think Twitter has been detrimental to my experience of London 2012.

I am not going to read any more articles with ‘Twitter’ in the tagline, and I am certainly not going to read any more articles about ‘disaster’ and ‘disappointment’ and ‘misfiring’ and other things. I think we need to all sit back and enjoy the Olympics for what it is – a great sporting spectacle, and stop whining about our expectations not being met.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in cycling, Olympics

 

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