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Category Archives: cycling

Training: Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer

I am pleased to announce that I have made my fundraising minimum for the Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer. Training is going well too, as you can tell via the graph below, plotting my actual kilometres against the 1,000 km goal.

Last weekend topped it off with a 135 kilometre ride from our place, down the freeway, and a loop to Rockingham. We rode down Safety Bay Road to Point Peron, along the foreshore to Rockingham’s cafe strip, then back to the freeway via Wellard Road.

I found the route on the Department of Transport website here. The Safety Bay Road ride involved a rather skinny sealed shoulder at one point, and then on the Rockingham side of Warnbro Station there was a nasty roundabout crossing that felt like a game of ‘Frogga’ where you are a frog that has to dodge the cars to get across the road. It was very busy.

We stopped for lunch in Rockingham and watched the little yachts racing in the bay. There were a lot of bikes rolling past, and dogs of all sizes as well. It was quite a busy little strip and the weather was perfect.

The route back via Wellard Road involved a really crazy intersection between Kwinana Beach Road and Patterson Road which I would not recommend cyclists turn right at, as directed by the map online!

Wellard Road has a good shoulder and would be a good ride if it wasn’t for the road works that are happening closer to the Freeway which have covered the shoulder with rocks and dirt. Also, to get onto the Freeway shared path, you need to be on the dual use path once you are on Bertram road, which is also ripped up due to roadworks. We had to get off our bikes and walk them through the sand to get there, otherwise we would have ended up on the Freeway proper.

We took a little break at the water fountain just north of Cockburn Central, and I needed to stretch out a little.

I am not planning on doing quite so many kilometres in October because I’m planning on tapering a little the week before the Conquer Cancer ride. Longer distances are certainly getting easier and I am really enjoying being fitter and faster when I am commuting and running errands on the bike. I will have to pick a new challenge after the Conquer Cancer ride to keep up my motivation levels. Any suggestions?

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Charity Rides, cycling

 

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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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Opinion: eight reasons not to buy a cheap Huffy bike

OK, so don’t buy a cheap bike. Why not? Every day it is the same, I am riding home in peak hour and there is a long stream of people overtaking one very slow cyclist. As it’s my turn to overtake, I can see why this person is having so much trouble propelling themselves along a perfectly flat path. They are riding a horrible bicycle. Usually I see this person once or twice, and then they vanish, never to be seen on the bike path again.

1. It’s HEAVY

The worst type of Big W or K-mart bike is the type with suspension, but the others aren’t much better. I didn’t realise how much heavier these bikes are until my dad showed me one that he had gotten from the tip shop. I tried to lift it and I almost couldn’t! His was a dual suspension Huffy model. Then I was given a couple of old Cyclops bikes that were in someone’s backyard for parts. I usually salvage them for brake levers, and that’s about it. They are all heavy.

Now imagine that you have to push this heavy bike along with the power of your legs alone. The dual suspension Huffy my dad had in his backyard was close to 25 kilos. An entry level Giant bike from a bike shop might weigh 15 kgs, or even a little less these days. That 10 kilograms makes a huge difference, especially if you hit anything that looks like a hill.

2. You have to put it together yourself

The Big W bike comes in a box and is usually partially assembled. The problem is that you need to put it together. Even if you have experience assembling bikes it can be a frustrating experience. If you don’t know what you are doing then you could assemble yourself quite a dangerous contraption. For example, when I was staying with friends in Byron Bay I noticed that there was a Huffy bike sitting at the back of their house, leaning against the wall. The fork was on backwards. I asked who the bike outside belonged to, and they said their housemate, who wasn’t around at the time. I asked them if it rode OK. They said that he didn’t ride it much and said it felt like it was going to fall apart. Hm. I wonder why.

3. It’s got the worst tyres on it imaginable

When you first start out riding, you may just think that the road is bumpy. I’ve got news for you, it’s not the road that is causing those uncomfortable vibrations – it is the cheap, heavy, knobbly tyres on the bike. Not only do they slow you down due to their weight and rolling resistance, but they will also still pick up glass and you will still get punctures. If that is not a lose-lose situation, I don’t know what is.

4. You’ve ridden it twice and it’s already falling apart

For a bike to be that cheap, it has to have cheap components. It may say ‘Shimano’ but that could relate to only one part of the gears. There are a lot of horrible cheap gear components out there that Shimano wouldn’t even spit on. Those will be on your bike from Big W or K-mart.

The cogs on the back and the chain are made of such low-grade steel that they just have to see moisture a kilometre away and they will start to rust. A rusty chain will cease up, and you won’t be able to change gears well. It will make a lot of noise. People will look at you funny as they ride past you.

5. There’s no post sales support

If your cheap bike breaks, then you will be lucky if you can get a refund from Big W/K-mart. At least if you buy something from a bike shop they will fix any problems that come up when you start using the bike.

6. No bike shops will work on it

You realise that there are problems with your new $100 Huffy the second time you ride it. The problem is you aren’t sure about how to fix it (and K-mart/Big W certainly aren’t going to fix it for you). You take it to your local bike shop for some help, and they prod it a little and say “well I could try, but it really isn’t worth working on, it will cost more than you paid for it in the first place.”

You better get handy with youtube and some tools.

7. The whole ownership experience is horrible and you decide riding is not for you, or that you hate bikes!

Please, please don’t let this happen. Cycling is an awesome, cheap way to get around and you can get your exercise at the same time. If you mistakenly purchased a Huffy/Cyclops/Repco/Kent bike and you are not enjoying cycling, think for a minute – is it just the bike that is making this experience such a bad one? Go and test ride some nicer bikes at a bike shop.

8. In order to get some money back on your mistake you try to sell your $100 bike on gumtree or craigslist and end up accruing a lot of bad karma

Please, don’t do this either. Don’t inflict it on anyone else, it was bad enough when it was new, imagine how unridable it will be when it’s been left unused in the shed for a year or two.

Also, please don’t try to list it for it’s original purchase price because its ‘never been ridden’ – it was never ridden because it was a crap bike, just face up to it and move on.

A cheap department store bike might be useful in certain situations but there are a lot of qualifications:

IF you ALREADY HAVE A GOOD BIKE, IF you have an interest in doing your own maintenance, IF you are only riding a short distance, IF the bike is cheap, IF it is not too heavy for you to handle, IF it has no suspension, and IF you only intend on riding it to some high-risk location where it might be stolen, then yes it may be acceptable to buy a cheap bike from Big W/K-mart.

Though your purposes may be better suited by getting a second hand ‘good’ bike, at the right price.

 

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Perth Cycling Infrastructure: Bike Parking, St John of God Hospital Subiaco

I recently had reason to visit the St John of God Hospital in Subiaco. It is conveniently located near a bike path, so I assumed that there was going to be bike parking. Just in case, I took my biggest U-lock which would fit comfortably around the light poles I saw last time I was there.

Bike racks near the front entrance of SJOG Subiaco

It turns out there are bike racks right at the entrance. There are 3 U-rails which are connected to a common base plate. Unfortunately they are not bolted down, so susceptible to someone rocking up with a ute, chucking the whole thing in the back, and driving off. Don’t laugh, this happened at Murdoch University in the early 2000s – in an area where vehicle access was much more difficult than it is here!

While I didn’t hesitate to leave the Surly there for the hour or so I would be inside, I would not want to lock an expensive bike there, or even a moderately priced bike on a regular basis, just in case someone scoped it out and then came back for it later.

There were bikes chained to other poles in the immediate vicinity, so I guess I was not the only one concerned about the portability of the bike rack.

SJOG Subiaco actually has publicly available information on the measures it takes to encourage it’s staff to use ‘green’ transport, including public transport, walking and cycling, so I am going to send them an email and ask them to consider securing the bike rack properly.

All in all, SJOG has at least tried to provide bike parking for visitors. There’s always room for improvement though!

 

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Training: Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer, 1000ks in June

This weekend I fell behind a little bit progressing towards my 1000 kilometre goal. Since last month I came off a base of 350 kilometres, the 1000km target has left me pretty stuffed. I am surprised overall how well things are holding up though! This morning the only niggles are a red patch that looks like it wants to become a blister on the outside of my right foot, and some tired(ish) legs. I still have a fighting chance of making it.

My progress chart

I have already started thinking about goal setting for July. I am thinking that I will give myself a bit of a recovery week, and then since I am really in training to do back-to-back centuries, setting some weekend based targets. I am thinking 1 x 100k weekend, 1 x 120k weekend and 1 x 160k weekend with a minimum of 600ks for the month. It is going to be a bit less ‘neat’ in terms of plotting my progress but I’ll do some ride reports of the longer rides.

 

 

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Training: Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer (1000ks in June)

We have had a bit of rain, and that has slowed me down a little bit but as you can see below I have managed to stay on target so far for this month. 

graph: target vs actual kms

My progress towards my 1000km target for June

After a week where I struggled to ride much because of the weather, I managed two good rides on the weekend. Nic & I went for 58 kilometre dawdle out to Bells Rapids on Saturday. The rain meant that there was some nice water flow at Bells and even a couple of kayakers practicing for the upcoming Avon Descent race. They were still getting stuck on the rocks, but hopefully as we get more rain over winter the rapids will be high enough to kayak through.

On Sunday I went for a ride with a mate up to Mt Helena. I had never done a ride in the Perth hills and I was quite surprised with how well I went. I ran the Gopro on my handlebars, but I had a problem with it fogging up after half an hour or so. I’ve never had an issue with fogging while using the Gopro on the bike before – the only time I really had fog was diving with the whalesharks up at Ningaloo.

Anyway, here is a bit of footage that I got from the ride. It was very scenic and a good work out. My legs are still a bit tired now.

Now that the rain is back I expect my little ‘actual km’ line on the graph will dip a little bit, but I can always make it up on the weekend and there seems to be some sun forecast.

 

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