Monthly Archives: September 2012

Skimping out – how a few cheap components can spoil an experience

My Giant TCR Advanced W came with some nice spec; an Ultegra groupset (except for the 105 cassette and chain), and some nice hoops to roll on. I am overall very happy with the bike except for a couple of things.

It came with white tape which was not only a disadvantage due to it’s colour, but it seemed to be dirtphillic (ie dirt loving). It may have been my fault – I may have got sunscreen on there (that stuff just gets everywhere – I spent ages trying to clean it off my frame), and that may have caused everything to stick to it. Anyway it looked disgusting. The white tape on my Schwinn has an overall grey colour but the TCR tape was far worse in appearance – you could see exactly what hand positions I favoured.

The tyres, while they were good rollers, cut up easily. They were Michelin Pro Light Service Course, which I am guessing are a slightly beefier tyre than their race rubber. The rear one got a cut in it which was about half the width of the tyre itself. I got punctures every ride in the rear until I decided to run a slightly lower pressure and went down to 90psi. Since I’m now around 60kgs, the lowish pressure wasn’t an issue, and stopped the punctures, but that cut was nagging at me. The last thing any cyclist wants is a rapid tyre deflation whilst going a little faster than usual down a hill.

I had a good look, and aside from the big cut, there were a lot of holes which looked like they were developing a little bulge around them, so I decided at 1,893 kilometres that it was time to replace the rear just to be safe. Of course while changing the bar tape I had chosen to embark on a brave new colour scheme, and chose red tape, so I bought red Schwalbe Duranos to put on the bike. Black was out of stock, OK? Anyway I decided to change front and back tyres and keep the front one as a spare. The front has various holes in it but it was no where near as cut up as the rear.

Now I figure I’ve got another 3,000ks before I put a new chain on, and at that time I think I might have to replace the seat as well. It is already looking shabby – the brand name on the side has worn off, and the white parts are looking decidedly grey. The padding seems to be losing it’s spring as well. I guess I’ll replace the bar tape again by then as well – we shall see how this new red BBB tape stands up.

The main question, which I probably have 6 months to consider, is, will I put a Brooks on it?


Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Reviews


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The Return of Spring

There are ducklings and baby coots almost everywhere you look at the moment. It’s been a good year for them.

The sweet cool breeze that dissipates the sun’s mild heat is a reminder that warmer days are coming. The sun will intensify until a morning ride will illicit twice the amount of sweat for the same amount of effort. As I make my way along the beautiful riverside bikeway, I begin to appreciate the headwinds for their cooling effect. I welcome the sound of the wind roaring past, whistling through the straps of my helmet.

It is time to hang my softshell in the closet for another year. If there is any rain in between now and next June I will rejoice in it, not cover my skin with water-repellent clothing. It is time to rummage through my drawers to unearth my lightweight, trendy Coolmax garments, whilst stocking up on sunscreen. Maybe this year I’ll even invest in one of those insulated water bottles, so that I can squirt some water into my mouth on a long ride without receiving third degree burns.

I will plan rides taking into account exposure to hot roads and walls, perhaps avoiding the freeway bike path for a month or two. I learned this lesson the hard way a few summers ago, being caught out in the middle of kilometres of black tar with the air temperature sitting on 40 degrees Celsius. The only other riders I saw that day were cowering in underpass tunnels, or making their way to the nearest train station for a ride home in air conditioned comfort. Being the stubborn type I struggled out to the coast and went for a much needed swim to cool off, then used the train as my sag wagon for the trip home.

Whilst I am not looking forward to the inevitable run of 40 degree days, I will enjoy the here and now. I know that in a few short months I will be baking cookies for the dogs on the dashboard of my car.

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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Everyday cycling, Reasons to Ride


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Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer Training: Chocolate Cookies, cyclist superfood!

Two rides this weekend, on Saturday I rode to ‘My Pet Warehouse’ in Osborne Park – I rode into the city via my local bike track, and then back up to Ozzie Park via the Mitchell Freeway path. The pet shop wasn’t far from the path, but even so, there was no bike parking! I expected that I would have to lock up to a sign, but I didn’t think I’d have to wade through rubbish and weeds.

I bought some stuff for the dogs, but they didn’t do cash out, so I had no money for the sausage sizzle and rode home hungry. I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice so I made a batch of chocolate cookies, minus the chocolate chips, for my big ride on Sunday.

I rode down to a friend’s place to hang around her garage sale in my lycra. It was a 72.3 kilometre one way trip, and when I had gotten there I was astounded to see that my average speed was 26.9 kilometres per hour. It had taken so long to break that 26 kph barrier, and I had finally done it! I credit it to my chocolate cookies!

I stopped once on the way down, for 15 minutes, so I wolfed down a cookie then. They aren’t really convenient to eat on the bike. It is a convenient bottle refill spot as well – the only water fountain that I know of on the Kwinana Freeway bike path. It’s a couple of kilometres North of Cockburn Central (for those who aren’t from Perth that is pronounced Coe-burn, not how it is spelled).

After a day of hanging around the garage sale, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride the whole way home. The sea breeze had wafted in and made the ride a bit easier, so I kept going. I managed to finish the ride with an average of 28.3 kilometres per hour.

I don’t know how you can live in Perth and not love it. Well, apart from some of the bogans who seem to try their best to ruin it all. I did get slapped on the lower back by some tool kid on the back of a trail bike somewhere near Mortimer Road. There was a group of three bikes and after the first one went past and slapped me I rode wider to force them on to the dirt. I got a few middle fingers for my trouble. I thought about pulling my camera out of my back pocket, but that would have resulted in, well, blurry pictures of their backs.

Anyway, after 144 kilometres, I say bring the Ride to Conquer Cancer! I am ready!

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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Bike Parking, Charity Rides


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Cute Kitty in a Helmet

This very cute photo has been doing the rounds on Facebook lately. One of my friends said it was like a possum curled up in the hollow of a tree.

The best kitty on a bike photo that I have ever taken was, not surprisingly, in the Netherlands.

Clever kitty making use of plentiful seating in Utrecht

Do you have any good kitty on a bike pictures? Would you like to share?

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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Offbeat


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Owner Review: Nathan Reflective Ankle Bands

As I use my bicycle as my primary means of transport, I am often stuck with the dilemma of what to do about my pants to keep them from flapping into my chain. I have tried rolling the chain side leg up, but usually the pants come unrolled with the motion of pedalling. I have tried tucking my pants into my sock, but that looks lame, and I’m not always wearing socks.

Then I had a brainwave – what if I use those reflective ankle bands that the safety nuts wear? It would add to my visibility at night, which is a bonus, but the primary purpose would be to keep those darn pants out of the darn chain. I am sick of ripping holes in my pants.

I ordered these from Ezisports Online, who are an Australian triathlon online retailer. The postage time was comparable to Wiggle, and soon enough these were in my letterbox. You can get similar reflective bands and vests from Wiggle too (check my ‘Affiliates’ page for the link to either store).

The orange ones are designed for runners, whilst the yellow ones are designed for cyclists. They both work for my purpose of keeping my pants away from my chain, but I must say I prefer the orange ones.

The Good

The orange ones have a wider band so they hold your pants away from your chain more effectively. They also are a bit more padded, so they are much nicer if you decide to wear them directly against your skin. The yellow ones have a harder, plastic type backing which would be irritating after a while.

I have been told that they are very reflective and show up in car headlights very prominently, along with the reflector on my rear Radbot light. The advantage of having reflective straps on your ankles being the movement – it is very eye catching and identifies you as a cyclist on the road. The other advantage is that you can just whip them off when you get to your destination – you could either chuck them in your pocket, or maybe put them on underneath your pants (again the orange ones would be more comfortable for this).

The Bad

They are both just basic velcro straps, so they can be a bit fiddly to put on tight – it’s not a one handed job for me, but I guess I am not the most coordinated person in the world. They could perhaps do with a plastic loop that you could loop the velcro strap to in order to pull on it.


If you are in the market for reflective bands that keep your pants out of your chain then have a look at these. I would recommend the orange ones for their width and the padding on the back. They are certainly handy and they have an added bonus of being shiny and making you stand out on the road.

Ezisports also have a range of Nathan reflective vests for both runners and cyclists. They look to be lightweight and a cut above the road worker vests I see some cyclists wearing around here. Has anyone seen them or tried them out?

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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Reviews


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Warning Labels gone Nuts

Most of you would have seen warning labels on bicycles that say “always wear your helmet”, as well as reminding you to check that all nuts and bolts are tight before you jump on and go for a ride. Worse are the Bicycle Shaped Objects posing as mountain bikes which have stickers that state they are “not for offroad use”. Then there are the BMX bikes that say “not for extreme or stunt riding”.

Well I bought a kayak last week. I got it second hand from a guy who had used it twice because he prefers the ‘sit in’ style of boat. It’s a Bic Ouassou – is a short, flat bottomed boat which is about as stable as a barge. I actually got it so that the dogs and I could enjoy a spot of paddling together.

After I had spent a bit of time playing with the dogs and getting them to sit in the boat in the living room, I noticed that the kayak had one of those dreaded warning stickers.

It says ‘ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET’ !! What? This isn’t a whitewater boat. Actually it says on the website that it can be used for beginner whitewater and beginner surf, but seriously? ALWAYS wear a helmet? The safety people aren’t going to be happy when they see my dog and I without lifejackets puttering around the flat, sheltered water of the Swan River then.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Yehuda Moon, there is a subplot going on over there at the moment featuring a character called Nanny State. Go on and check it out.


Posted by on September 15, 2012 in Kayaking


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Ride to Conquer Cancer: Weekend Ride & Fundraising Update

As I am typing this, my fundraising total has reached $2,266.66. My goal is $2,500 for the WA Institute for Medical Research. They are doing some groundbreaking cancer research which this ride is going to provide a great funding boost towards.

A big boost came this week when we were given a bar fridge to raffle off. In three days $200 worth of tickets were sold.

If you want to get aboard the fundraising train and help me get the last little bit then go here to donate some moola.

My weekend ride update is a bit late because I have been having internet issues at home, but I did a 68 kilometre ride via the South Perth foreshore, the freeway South path, Roe Hwy, Railway Parade, and then along the Swan River past Maylands. It was 29 degrees, which is pretty warm, actually it was the warmest September day in 120 years.

The path along the freeway has been subject to detours for months now, as there is a bit of development happening down around Murdoch. The Fiona Stanley hospital is coming along nicely, though I wonder about the design – I think it’s going to date quite badly. There are a few ‘iconic’ big capital works buildings in WA that have made these bold design statements – the Perth Convention and Exhibition centre came under a lot of criticism for it’s resemblance to a giant Colourbond steel shed. Perth residents seem to have just stopped whining about it, perhaps because it’s position as ‘most loathed building’ has been taken over by the new Perth Arena. The whinging has been going on for years and the building isn’t even open yet.

Back to the riding, I had to stop for a bit at the lakes in Maylands because I was getting a calf cramp. A symptom of the unseasonably warm weather and the fact that I had run out of my usual hydrating GU Brew and was just on plain water for the ride. I haven’t had a cramp for ages and it disappeared quickly, but gave me a chance to take another bike + water photo. These lakes were pits where the nearby brickworks sourced their clay.

All in all it was a good ride, but I really wanted to wag work this week and ride some more. I think now I understand how surfers feel when they skip out on work when the waves are good.


Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Charity Rides


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