Monthly Archives: November 2009

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Things to do on a wet Sunday morning

Go for a 60km ride. Yup, because that makes so much sense.

It’s official, I’m addicted to bike riding. It’s the only reason I can come up with for going out today when I knew it was going to rain. I swear to god every time I sat back down on my seat, my knicks made a squelching sound. Most of the time I don’t mind riding in the rain but it simply wouldn’t stop raining while we were on Beach Road and about 3/4 of the way home I was seriously asking myself what I was doing. For the first time ever, it stopped being quite so much fun and started to be hard work.

The most unpleasant thing about riding in the rain is the wet feet. Lyra has the advantage of drying relatively quickly once it stops raining but the shoes and socks stay wet. It’s decidedly unpleasant and I’m sure if I’d taken my socks off, I could’ve wrung quite a lot of water out of them. I think one of my cycling-related purchases will be some waterproof overshoes.

Go team me for doing 60kms though.

I’m still deciding what I think of the new tyres. They do really well in the wet, they’re very grippy but they feel sluggish on a dry road. The ride also feels harsher then the old ones but I’m not experienced enough to really know for sure. Still, it hasn’t been the best conditions for testing them out and I’m not going to dismiss them out of hand after so short a distance. Plus, I can’t really afford another set of tyres for a little while. Need a new laptop battery first.

Vote for me? Please? Pretty please?

I’ve entered two of my photos in a competition that just happens to have a people’s choice award. So, wanna vote for me?


You absolutely don’t have to sign up to vote. All you do is give my photos a rating (five stars would be nice) and write a comment if you want. The photo with the most rating and comments wins. My photos are on page 29 at the moment. Annoyingly enough, I can’t link directly to my photos, you have to go the gallery.

Here’s a handy pic to point out which ones they are… (Anyone would think have too much time on my hands.)

So, vote for me? Please? Please? Pretty please with cherries on top?

Check me out

I’ve signed up for Scotty’s Ride, the 54km route 🙂

I’m doing it on my own but that’s okay. I’m sure I’ll find someone to talk to along the way and I’m sure my family will be hanging about at the finish line when I finish (I know you’re reading Dad, so that’s a big hint). When I was in Year 12, I used to ride most of the route every single day after school so I have the advantage of actually knowing where I’m going. It should be quite pleasant riding past all the orchards as the trees will be full of budding fruit so if my memory serves me well, it’ll smell really nice.

Maybe next year I’ll tackle the 120km ride. Maybe. I suppose it all depends on how long this current obsession lasts.

I had a misadventure with a kitchen knife last night. I was quickly cutting up some lettuce for dinner when I subconsciously decided I didn’t need the tip of my finger and tried to chop it off. All I could think of saying to my housemate was I’m going to need a band-aid as the blood started to flow which, thinking about it now, was probably a little inadequate considering how much it bleed. To be gross, I even managed to cut through my nail. I’m apparently a big believer in if you’re going to do something, do it right even if it really hurts. And made it really hard to put my new bike tyres on. (See what I did there? Huh, huh?)

As my housemate put it, Lisa has new shoes. According to my brother’s much more experienced eye, I didn’t really need new tyres but we swapped them over anyway and now I have spares. He gave me an excellent lesson in how to do it even though he had to do most of it because of my stupid finger. It was a case of I did the easy bits, like get the old tyre off and he did the hard bits of getting the new one on. He even showed me how to use a lever to get the tyre back on, which is something I couldn’t figure out on my own. He made it look so easy but I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve changed as many tyres as he has (he’d already changed four tyres that day and they were much tighter than mine). I need to practice it. It’s going to be the only way I can build up enough hand strength and develop a technique that works for me. When my finger heals, I’m going to start practising on my old bike. That way when I get frustrated, I can put the wheel down and walk away without having to worry about having a bike I can’t ride.

So now Lisa is sporting a pair of Continental Ultra Gatorskin tyres. By all accounts, I should have these tyres for quite a long time and they’re a reasonable training and great commuting tyre. I already like them better than the other Continentals I had. They felt more grippy then the old ones and handled this morning’s wet weather quite well. They seemed to kick up less water onto my back which is nice and I didn’t have saturated feet even though I ended up riding in the rain. The old tyres kicked up an amazing amount of water and the front tyre always dumped it onto my right foot. The Gatorskins are meant to be very puncture resistant which is something I need. I’m curious to see what they’re like on a dry road but I might have to wait to find that out!

A list

1. Achievement for today: successfully riding about two-thirds of Kew Boulevard. It’s not that it’s that hilly, it’s more that it’s constantly undulating (so for me it feels really hilly). And it proved that I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to climbing. I always go out too hard. As my brother said don’t attack the hill or the hill will attack you. Next time I shall ride the whole damn thing!

2. I signed up for Amy’s Ride today. Doing the 60km ride. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be hillier than I think.

3. And I’m going to sign up for another ride soon. This one is Scotty’s Ride and it goes past my parents’ house! I have three weeks to learn as much as I can about riding in large groups. Eeep!

4. I took Lisa in a for a service on Monday and they cleaned her chain. Hoorah! Something I’ve wanted to do but haven’t been able to because I don’t actually know how to get the chain off and I don’t have any degreaser anyway. I also have new brake pads.

5. Right now I am rereading Ultimate Spider-man. I’m on a huge super-hero kick at the moment. No idea why.

6. Umm… yeah.

7. I’ve trashed my macbook’s battery. Turns out I shouldn’t have been using the charger from a white macbook as it’s 65W and mine is 85W. D’oh! So, I suppose I’ll have to put off my cycling purchases to acquire a new battery. Better to spend $200 on a new battery then $2500 on a new computer.

8. There’s a package waiting for me at the post office. Hoorah! New tyres and new bike knicks.

9. Gee, anyone would think I’m more than a little obsessed with cycling at the moment.

10. I’m now doing three rides a week. Tuesdays is Kew Boulevard, Thursdays is the GP circuit and Sundays is Black Rock. Covering all the basics – hills, riding techniques and bunch riding.

11. Tired now. Sleep. zzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzz

Homeward-bound misadventures

Today’s journey home from work was… interesting.

When I got down to Lisa yesterday after work, I noticed a piece-of-shit mountain bike which had been parked in the bike rack rear tyre in had its front tyre pushing hard against Lisa’s rear derailleur. The gear changes seemed a little rougher on the way home and it felt like she wasn’t changing gear when I asked her to but I thought it was just my imagination. When I got out of work today and attempted to pedal off, I couldn’t change gear initially. And when she did, it was under duress. So it was off to the bike shop for me. Turned out she only needed a little adjusting but I was surprised at how I reacted.

I was so angry and really concerned that someone had hurt my baby. And that’s just plain weird. It’s a bike. Pieces of aluminium, carbon, metal and rubber. She doesn’t have feelings, she can’t be injured. She’s not even a she, she’s an it. But I’m certain I’m not the only one who refers to their bike by gender and has given their trusty stead a name. I’m certain there are a bunch of guys out there who have names for their bikes but will never, in a million years, admit it. We bond with our bikes and the relationship is remarkably strong. To be honest I think there’s something odd if you don’t bond with your bike. And that’s more than a little peculiar.

Anyhoo.. enough waxing lyrical about that. To the other part of my misadventures.

I saw a guy on a bike get hit by a car on St Georges Road.

I’d done my usual thing and stopped at the pedestrian crossing which takes forever to change. I watched a few cyclists go by, doing the usual hugging of the gutter when the accident unfolded in front of me. The driver was totally at fault. She turned in front of him, leaving him with nowhere to go. He struck her car’s bonnet and then kinda rolled along the side of her car until he finally hit the ground. The strange thing was it wasn’t that noisy. There was the thump of him hitting the car but I could hear him say something along the lines of oh god! as it was happening.

It happened so fast but it seemed to take forever. I can remember thinking holy shit!! as it happened and then I just ran to the guy. (Not sure how I managed that in cletes!) I don’t know how but he wasn’t seriously injured. He had a lot of scraps and had a massive bruise forming on his arm but he was okay. Scared shitless but up and walking around. I actually think he was embarrassed by suddenly being the centre of so much attention as quite a few people had stopped to see if he was okay. I was about to leave when I realised I should give him my details as I saw the whole thing and could be witness for him when the insurance company inevitably tries to screw him over. Because, hey he’s just some stupid cyclist. Surely the accident was his fault. *rolls eyes*

What killed me most about it was the woman who hit him looked like she was going to drive away and when she did finally did make an appearance her excuse was I just didn’t see him. I couldn’t see past the truck. And then she came out with the gem of I’m a cyclist too. I didn’t say anything to her because I didn’t doubt she was genuinely distressed by what had just happened but I couldn’t help wondering why she decided she had to turn when the truck was blocking her vision. Waiting another five seconds for the traffic to clear would’ve made such a huge difference to her day. She would’ve seen the guy and not gone, saving herself the trauma of plowing into someone and he wouldn’t be in what I imagine is a huge amount of pain right now. Only if she’d waited a few seconds more. It’s not like she was holding up traffic. St Georges Road is a four-lane road, any cars behind her could’ve gone around. But no, she couldn’t wait.

Today’s events just reinforces my belief that we’ve become a society that’s all about the now. We always have somewhere to be, we’re always super busy, nothing can wait. We have no patience and appear to have lost the ability to simply stop. But I’m thinking the next time she turns right against traffic, she’s going to make damn sure there are no cyclists around. For a little while anyway.

I have so much to learn

This whole riding in large groups thing is incredibly technical. There’s so much to be aware of – road conditions, the distance between you and people around you, the hand gestures of whoever is in front. It’s like learning a new language. But, oh my god, it was so totally awesome to be out there with everyone else and actually overtake people (read: guys decked out in full team kits on much more expensive bikes than me).

I’m feeling a little proud of myself this afternoon. I made it to Black Rock and back in one piece. Go team me!!

I feel like I’ve accomplished something but I’m not exactly sure what. This time last year, I couldn’t have imagined that I’d actually be able to do this. Black Rock always seemed so far away, something that my brother would do but I would never be able to. I was so proud of myself that I had to tell someone so I called my housemate just to say I was sitting at a cafe in Black Rock.

Took us about an hour from Canning St, which was quicker than I expected but we managed to latch onto a group of four guys who were heading out. As a unit, they rode beautifully – tight, controlled and in perfect sync. I’m sure they were just warming up but they didn’t seem to mind that we were hanging on. It was a pleasure to watch them ride and see how it’s done. In the end, the only reason we dropped off was because I stuffed up a start from a traffic light and got separated from the group. In the end, I think the pace would’ve been too much for me and I would’ve killed myself getting to Black Rock and then not been able to get home.

Still, as we got closer to Black Rock, we got quicker and quicker until my riding partner decided it was time to drag me along at about 45kms – uphill!! Okay, so they were more rises then hills but I’m a terrible hill climber, even on the small ones so I have no idea how I managed it. I suppose I just didn’t want to get left behind. Heh. I’m so competitive when I want to be. It must be acknowledged the that only way I’m going to get better at hills is by banging up and down them.

I feel like I am achieving something with the riding. I have dead legs a lot of the time but when I’m on the bike, I do feel stronger. I seem to be able to sustain higher speeds for longer periods. It’s only been five weeks since we started riding so any progress is good. Today’s ride was 55.44kms and it still surprises me that I’m actually capable of riding those distances. On Thursday, we had a third join us and he dragged me around the Albert Park circuit four time about 10kms quicker than I’m used to. A few weeks ago I wouldn’t have been able to sustain that sort of effort. It also surprises me that I’m actually willing to get up early on a Sunday to go out. But it’s so worth it. The dead legs, the sore butt, the aching body – it’s all worth it for the peace of mind I feel.

(Although today’s peace of mind was shattered by nearly getting hit by a lunatic taxi driver when we were turning onto Russell St from La Trobe. And then being so freaked out that I had to be pushed up the rise to the next intersection. Yup, that’s so dignified.)

Anyhoo… I’ve set myself a short term goal: to do Amy’s Ride in January. My riding partner and I debated which length to do, the 60km or 120km and we finally settled on the 60. It’ll be my first ride and I want to do a distance I can achieve. It’d kill me to sign up for the 120 and then end up in the sag wagon because I couldn’t complete it. Check me out. I have goals and things I want to achieve.

Psst… happy 100th blog post to me.

Merry christmas to me!

my new helmet

Decided I needed a new helmet. One that actually has ventilation and doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to melt when I’m wearing it. Of course, that’s yet to be proved as I haven’t worn it whilst riding but fingers crossed!!

The thing is, good helmets start at $200. And I don’t have a spare $200 lying about. However, my parents came to the party and gave me some cash as a very early christmas present which allowed me to stretch my budget. Then I stretched it a little more by spending more than I was going to (that seems to be the normal theme when it comes to my cycling). But I still got a bargain because once again, the super-nice Ben at BSC in the QV knocked $55 off, so I got a $280 helmet for $225. Ben rocks 🙂

I’ll just have to live with the fact that according to my new favourite blog, Cycling Tips, MET helmets just aren’t PRO. 😉 Meh, what can you do when the MET helmet is the only one in the store that fits properly because you’ve got a small head?

No christmas present under the tree for me this year. But I’ll be protecting my noggin in a hopefully cooler fashion.

And the new gloves? Totally awesome!!

Must be getting serious…

…if I’m willing to spend $60 on a pair of bike gloves (and that was after the super-nice Ben from BSC in the QV knocked ten bucks off). It was money I was nominally keeping to buy a new pair of tyres but still…

Mmm… squishy!
my new bike gloves

I’ve done a few rides now and I’ve been having some pain issues with my hands and elbows. My old gloves have a very annoying seam that pushes hard into the pad of skin between my thumb and fingers. I have some really deep calluses forming on both hands that actually resemble blisters and it bloody hurts! I also think I’m unintentionally over-compensating for my hands and holding my arms more rigidly which is killing my elbows. I know it sounds weird but the pain only started after I commenced the 2+ hour rides. I thought it was my position on the bike but I asked at the bike shop today and apparently aching elbows are not a common complaint due to poor positioning.

I was a little doubtful about the positioning thing anyway because nothing else was hurting. If it was positioning, I should’ve been experiencing the elbow pain even in my short commutes to work. My hands did hurt when I was just doing my daily commutes but it’s gotten far worse now I’m riding for longer. I’m hoping new gloves will help.

Still, that’s not stopping me from contemplating going to see someone about my bike fit. I have very little power from a standing start and get overtaken by little old ladies wobbling their way across intersections on bikes that are too big for them. It’s embarrassing! Once I get going, I’m fine. It’s the getting going that’s letting me down. But that might be because I still need more practice with my shoes. 85% of the time I get clipped in straight away but the other 15% I’m kicking the peddle over, my foot goes flying forward or I simply can’t clip in. If I ever have a spare $150 lying around, I’m sure it’ll be a good investment to see a fit specialist but I’m doubtful I ever have $150 lying about. Not when I need new tyres and want a new helmet.

I have achieved something though. Yesterday I did my first 50+km ride (52.64kms) and had my first experience of Beach Road. The plan was to ride to Black Rock but it turned out the road was closed in Brighton. So I didn’t really get to ride on Beach Road because it doesn’t actually start until Hampton and I don’t think we got that far. Oh well, it was still an experience. I don’t think I’ve been overtaken by so many lycra clad men in my life. On the way back, four guys latched onto us and a mini bunch formed. My first ever! My riding partner and I led the group for about five kms when he told me to drop off the front and let someone else do some work. I’ve never had to do it before so I really had no idea what I was doing. I had problems latching onto the guy in front of me. I couldn’t work out his cadence and his bike creaked with every revolution which was hugely distracting. Yup, my bunch riding definitely needs work. If I’m honest, I need to develop more power because only reason I could keep up with them was the rather brisk headwind. I also think they were taking it easy or on a recovery ride. But what can you do? Everyone has to start somewhere!