Saturday, 30 November 2013

Retro ride

A short ride this morning (for my 50th birthday). 80km round trip from Sydney Olympic Park uphill through Ryde, onto the M2 out to Seven Hills and back to Parramatta Park for refreshments.

With a puncture or two, yours truly included.  ;-/  


Sunday, 24 November 2013

My new Trike, and years later, its afterlife

Finally after making all the necessary arrangements with Trisled, my trike was delivered.
I was now living in Perth, Western Australia.

                                                                    Trisled Cool Cruza  arrives circa. May, 2000.

The Cool Cruza was a great introduction to the world of Recumbent trikes. I used this a my commuting vehicle for all my time in Perth. Clocking up over 12,000 kms just in one year alone. Yes it is fun to ride!!

After returning to Sydney in 2003, triking was a big part of my recreation, and the occasional commute.
Every weekend involved a trike ride at some stage...just for fun.

The trike is very reliable, and with a bit of regular maintenance, is still going in 2013... although now a bit worse for wear cosmetically and mechanically. I am now wondering if I should do a major rebuild or invest in a new trike?

Whilst doing research into this, I cane across Velomobiles....  they looked interesting. A velomobile is still a recumbent trike but with an aerodynamic shell, hmmm. I wondered what they would be like compared to an "unfaired" trilke. Further research allowed me to find a Trisled Rotovelo that was up for sale, so I contacted the seller and arranged a test ride.

My first impression was that they are FAST, there's a lot to be said for aerodynamics!
The gearing was different in the Rotovelo compared to my Cool Cruza, which I suspect, was half the speed advantage I felt. There's plenty of room inside to carry quite a lot of "stuff" for commuting or touring. It looked like a viable option.

Decisions, decisions.....

The Rotovelo won out!


Whats that funny three wheeler...... part 2.

....... I'm in luck, I caught the "phantom trike rider" on one of the following days climbs and made an effort to stick with him. The more k's we did that day, the more comfortable he looked....the more "dishevelled" I did... he told me he didn't have any of the aches I described, no sore bum, no sore neck, no sore arms, back, or wrists.  Hmm, riding a trike sounded like a very good option.

At the end of the days ride, I asked him if I could possibly have a bit of a test-ride. He agreed, and I can recall, that the exact moment my bum hit that trike seat, I was SOLD!.  I had never had such a feeling of comfort on something you had to pedal. I did two laps of the campsite, and immediately made up my mind that I was going to get a trike.

I probably annoyed that guy for the final two days of the ride with my "20-Questions?" at any time I spotted him.
He actually let me have a ride whilst we were out on the road ..... that did it..... I want a trike!!

Armed with all the info he had given me, and with my very limited experience, I was a "man on a mission" for the next couple of months. I researched many different makes.... from all over the world.

I finally set up a plan:

1. It had to be Australian made... I wanted to help the local economy. A local product would be good for aftersales service, parts etc.,
2. I wanted "simple" mechanics.... So when I finally went touring, in the event of a mishap, I could do roadside repairs myself. No internal gears. I had no experience with disc/drum brakes on a bicycle.
3. A reasonable price.

The Answer:-  Trisled

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A Velonaut's view

A short video from the cockpit of the Rotovelo.

(same camera, MD80 mini-cam, firmer camera mount....less "bobble-head")

Monday, 18 November 2013

What's that funny three wheeler?

1999.....Cycling IS fun... 

Maybe I should try touring by bike.... hmmmm, how do I do that?

Reading through the "Australian Cyclist" magazine, I'd seen an advert and story about the Big Ride. A fully supported ride where your gear is carried in a truck, the campsite is set up daily, hot showers, catering for all meals, entertainment.....all I had to do was ride the distance each day as the Ride moved on from town to town. Seemed easy enough.

Its a 9 day riding holiday, Canowindra to Bega, 700+ kms. Should be an adventure.

So I get to Canowindra, first day is a short 45km ride for the day, easy enough, flattish terrain, no problem. Days 2 and 3 are a bit more challenging, 70-80km with a few hills.... there's a wide variety of riders from all walks of life and a variety of bikes as well. Road bikes, BMX, hybrids, tourers, tandems....eve a triple... Dad and two kids...Cool!!  there's a couple of those 'lie-down' bikes. Recumbents, they're called.... different, but they look comfortable.

Day 6... whilst riding through the day, I caught up with a guy riding one of those recumbent bikes, a three wheel set up, he called it a trike. I'd past him earlier whilst climbing a reasonably step hill, but he passed me on the downhill at a very high speed. I was travelling at about 50km/h, but he pulled away at a much higher speed.....Wow!, I was impressed.

At the very next climb, I passed him again.... on the downhill after, he passed me again.... not fair! I thought.  The lunch stop for the day was a few km up the road.... I wanted to find this guy and check out his trike.
I couldn't find him there, so I continued on with the day's ride.

On to the end of the day's ride, I never saw that trike rider again.  I wandered through the campsite at the end of the day but couldn't locate it, or him either....oh well, "thems the breaks"

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Commuting begins again

......Now kitted out in some half-decent cycling gear, I was ready to try bike commuting again.

I attempted my 10km ride to the rail station and return home.... all good, no aches or chafe. Righto!

Not to get ahead of myself, I just kept my cycling to rides close to home for a few days, just to settle the cycling muscles in a bit.  Soon I was ready to get real.

First day of the new commute consisted of a 5km ride to the rail station, then on the train to the station nearest work, then the 3km ride to work..... and in reverse for the return journey. That first afternoon ride back home, especially those 5km uphill were a definite challenge after a days work. I was sore and tired but felt good at what I had accomplished.

This became my routine for the next fortnight. I could feel myself getting fitter..........finally.

Soon I felt like a new challenge, so I attempted to ride to the next rail station on from home, and keep riding those last 3km.
My riding had extended to 8km plus 3km, making 22km per day, but more often I just did those last least for the days I was knackered after work.   Occasionally I'd do a weekend ride of 10-15km.

Eventually I was riding to the third station from home and getting off the train three stops from cycling had got to 30-40km a day.... I was hooked again.

Within six months of beginning my new commuting routine I was comfortably cycling over 80km  every day... rain, hail or shine....and doing another 40 on the weekends, for fun!

My first attempt at You Tube,  apologies for the rubbery helmet-cam.....  

Monday, 28 October 2013

Re- Re-entry to cycling

Back to 1994....... life had moved on, now with a Mortgage hanging round my neck, and a growing family, work had somehow moved further away.... or so I thought. Commuting on a motorcycle is cheap and convenient.

Then comes July 1995, a story on the news about a thing called  "Le Tour De France" seems its some sort of bicycle race, and some guy called "Big Mig" was trying to win his Fifth Tour...I was intrigued as it reminded me of those early days riding as a kid and commuting by bike.

I began watching the TV highlights, and was starting to feel something, the bike bug was stirring again. I had no desire to take up any sort of racing, that was just going to be too hard. My bum hadn't seen a bicycle seat in years, nor had the bike seen daylight in the same time. Maybe with a bit of basic maintenance I could get the bike rolling again.

A couple of nights in the garage, after watching Le Tour highlights and a few new bits for the bike, and the old Royal Star was mobile again. What about me?  A gentle ride around the neighbourhood felt ok. It was good to get the bike and myself moving once more.... the cogs were felt like fun.

$64,000.00 Question......Should I ? Will I commute again??

I definitely wasn't in ant sort of fit condition to be able commute the full 40km to work, let alone the return 40km at the end of the day. Hmmm, how to approach the situation??
Could I survive the 5k ride to the nearest rail station and back home (all uphill of course) ..... reckon I'll wait for Saturday to try that out.... it'll give me all day Sunday to recuperate if necessary. Did I say I was out of condition?

I survived that 10k return ride, but it wasn't all smiles. Bits were chafed, other bits hurt, and there were new muscles aching. I didn't feel like this in my previous cycling life. Why?
The next Saturday I attempted that same ride, with the same results. Not good. I actually wanted to make a go of cycling again. Maybe a pair of nicks (like those guys in the Tour wear) and jersey as well, might be better for cycling than Jeans and t-shirt.
I immediately felt my comfort on the bike improve, gloves helped as well.
Time to try that 10k ride once more.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Today. I digress.....

Today was the annual Sydney Spring Cycle. A community ride that is so popular, the entries have to be limited to a maximum of 10,000 riders.
There are a few distance options available to attempt, I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest, of a person that had won an entry, for the 50km Classic Ride....many thanks Chain Reaction Cycles. 

The day started out with an early morning (4.30)  train ride to the start at North Sydney. Manoeuvring the Rotovelo was pretty easy, not having any crowds to deal with.

A bit if a climb to ride from the rail station to the actual start line. Nothing major, but enough to wake the legs an lungs. 

Some coffe and cake at the start, a typical cyclist's breakfast... then off to join the crew and enjoy a nice days ride. 

The ride progressed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a scenic blast to Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Art Gallery. 
Back to Observatory Hill, some city streets, the inner west, where there were a few challenging "lung busting hills" where I was passed by many, but got my revenge on the downhills.  (75km/h being top speed for the day)

Continuing west to Olympic Park and the finish line, was pretty much ... getting passed by all on the ups (with many words of encouragement..thanks everyone!!)... and tearing past everyone on the downs (to cheers and groans... Oops sorry!  ;-)  lol)

Nearing the end it became more prudent to stay calm, and cruise with the crowd. 

A ride time of 2.5hrs. I was happy with that.  

A very nice lunch and a refreshing coffee, then a wander through the Bike and Lifestyle Show.  

Finished the day with a 20km ride back home. 

All in all.... time for a rest me thinks .....

Thursday, 17 October 2013

a return to cycling...................maybe?

...... a change of employment, and a shorter commute on a motorcycle was not doing any favours for my bike or my waistline. The bike was hardly warming up on the short ride to work, and the waistline...."no comment".

Time for a re-think on commuter transport, maybe the bicycle "thing"?

Could I ride a bicycle the short distance to work?
Will I die trying?
Where do a get a half decent bike to lug myself around on?
Am I going to stick it out?
Hmm, decisions, decisions....

Well, at the very least, I might get to work a bit quicker actually, the traffic on my commute was pretty Bleh! ... and I'll save a few pennies in fuel costs.... maybe its worth a try.

Decision made... Give it a go!

For a modest outlay I purchased a new 10speed racing bike from the Local Bicycle Shop.
Some bicycle kit, gloves, helmet, bidon, saddlebags etc ....  (I hadn't given nicks or jersey a thought) I was set to hit the road.  

                                                                                    ( resto day)

Just to be sure I could survive my first attempt at bike commuting, I did a reconnaissance ride over the weekend. I found the quiet roads, and actually survived that experience.

Bike commuting was ok. I didn't die. I will admit that the first few weeks were a major challenge. I hadn't ridden in years, I thought I was totally out of my depth, and not in any sort of fit condition, but with perseverance and sheer determination I began to increase my fitness, and actually enjoy cycling again. It lasted six months.

Unfortunately yet another change of employment meant the bicycle was relegated to the shed and the motorcycle re-instated.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The middle years

Growing up on 5 acres, as part of a much larger working dairy farm, there was plenty of scope for a young fellow to get to know the bush on a bicycle.
Most, actually ALL of my early cycling was through the Australian bush. (I was never allowed to experience tarmac riding)
Following cattle paths through the scrub, around dams, chasing livestock,  often with my faithful old labrador running alongside on my adventures.

      (it's still in the shed....awaiting restoration----one day)

By my early teens, I was over it... I'd explored and ridden the bush to the point of exasperation, bike riding had become boring. I had lost all interest in it.

It was a "kids" thing to do.

Life moved on..... 
High School,
Job hunting,
and some semblance of a career

by my late teens, I had discovered Motorcycles, and they ruled for the best part of my 20's and 30's

in the beginning..... some history

I can still remember the day I learnt to ride a bicycle, a gift from the Big Man in the Red Suit, way, way back in time...Xmas  Day the ripe old age of 5.
No training wheels for me. Dad wouldn't allow it,  "you'll learn to ride a real bike without that rubbish" he told me.

It was a big step up from the Cyclops tricycle of the last couple of years, to a big bike....I was SO excited!!  another Cyclops, shiny blue frame, nice chrome wheels, dark black tyres, and the obligatory handlebar streamers...woohoo!

Perched at the top of the "hill", at the door to Dad's Shed, looking excitedly at the clear run down the side of the house, leading to the front yard..(a distance of about 50yrds on a slope of about 4 degrees)... "remember" Dad said with a smile, "those back pedal brakes.... pedal backwards to get it to stop"  That's the only lesson I was given.... pedal backwards to stop... Ok, can't be too hard.

A few shaky turns of the pedals with Dad jogging beside me,  keeping me upright for the first few yards... before I knew it I'd hit the ground just before collecting the front fence....Well I had stopped... splayed out on the grass and gravel
Missing a bit of skin and bawling my eyes out, Dad walks down and just said "cut that out" "wheel it back to the shed and try again"    I remember enjoying something about that first effort, that I did as he said... amid sobs.
Dad and I took off again, this time I mastered the backpedal brakes but also managed to pedal a bit and stay upright when I stopped.  WOW that was great!   No invitation was needed to make further attempts to master this, I was thrilled at the feel of movement, high off the ground (16" wheels are HUGE to a 5 year old) tentative pedal strokes, and even managing to 'turn AND pedal' at the SAME time...
I must've cycled 2 miles in that yard before 9 a.m.