First Commute

Wednesday I decided would be the best day to try commuting on the bicycle for the first time. I got everything set the night before and bright and early – 0550, I rolled out of the driveway headed for the station, about 12km away.

First impressions – the days are getting shorter and at this time I’m going to need lights to see as well as lights to attract attention (which I did have). It was cool (perhaps about 17C) and I wonder how it would be in winter…

But lots of cycle paths to follow almost the whole way to the station so actually really safe.

I arrived at the station, probably a few minutes after an earlier train departed (I was well ahead of schedule) and about 30mins before the train I planned was due out. Feeling good so far, I decided to ride on and see how it went.

I arrived at the other end of my train journey about 5mins after the train would have arrived. So I covered in about an hour what the train would have taken 30mins. Not too bad.

The last couple of kms to work was pretty tough though as I didn’t have much energy left (must eat breakfast next time!) and 2hours and 40km later I arrived at the office, tired but impressed.

So there’s the next tip – eat first. Also there were a few less cycle paths on this leg.

The day was a hot one, bitting 38C before it was home time. I decided to ride as intended all the way home.

It was really hot, there was more traffic and more wind. It was tough and when I was several kms away from any station, it was too late to realise I should have trained it.

Mrs called about every 30mins or so to check on me – she was understandably concerned but I was actually going ok. Slower than the morning, but ok.

And I was certainly slower. Stopped several times for a rest, and just a slower pace (avg 15kmh, not 20kmh I had done in the morning) meant that it took over 2.5hours.

More tips – hot days, train halfway home, ride the last 12km until I’m more used to it. If its cooler, maybe you can ride the whole way.

Oh, and I must find a new inner sole to replace the one I lost a while back in one of my shoes.

Overall, nearly 75km in one day. Almost 5hours of riding. And a good recovery.

Things to fix/improve

  • lights for the morning (sorted)
  • new inner sole (sorted)
  • eat breakfast first (and maybe freeze a water??)
  • don’t be stubborn and use the train if its really hot
  • armband or something to hold my Opal card and ID card (to get into work)

Oh, and my Opal card has arrived.

 

N+1-1 (+1)

Okay, that complicated looking formula is about bicycles. I’ve decided to do some commuting on a pushbike. Not every day, at least not at first – it is 40km each way – so not really something I can just hit up without any practice. My initial plan is to ride to a nearby train station, take the take to work, then ride from the station to work. On the way home, when I don’t need to rush as much, I ride all the way.

Then as I get better and have a better idea of what it’s like, the route and timings I can ride both ways. I’ve also signed up for an Opal card, the electronic card recently introduced for buses/trains etc here in Sydney, as that lets me take the bike for free on the train. (In peak periods, you normally have to pay for the bike). The train shouldn’t be too busy as once again, I am headed the opposite way to most traffic.

But the heavy Boulder I have (along with the Trance) is not really suited to this task. I needed a road bike.

I’ve just picked up this

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It’s a Giant Cross City 1 Disc. Basically a road bike, with flat bars and disc brakes. Also has carbon forks and I think the seat post too.

So that’s N+1. But to fit it into the garage, I needed to get rid of on other bike…. sorry Boulder, the decision between a hard tail $500 bike or a dual suspension $2000 bike was pretty easy. Sold it in less than a day, so N-1. (where N is the number of bicycles you have, apparently N+1 is the optimum number of bicycles – sounds like a great rule for motorcycles too)

The (+1) is that I also bought a larger 24″ bike, without coaster brakes for my eldest, so that the little one can move up to the other 20″ bike from her little toddler bike. Miss 8 gets 7 speed and no coaster brakes, and Miss 6 now has 3 speeds. It’s amazing how far the two girls have come – they only learned to ride about 10 days ago.

Expecting the worst

My commute home has a long stretch where they are making the two way road into a dual lane divided road (and they’ll probably reduce the speed limit). Most of it is done now, and its pretty sweet, with several lights for me to filter through.

The patch where it’s not complete has become a bottleneck though, and even though I’m heading the opposite way to most commuters, the traffic can back up a bit (though nothing like what the people headed the other way have to deal with).

Last night I was coming up to this part when another rider caught and then passed me. He caught up to the cars ahead and sat quite close behind, much less than my several bike lengths. Just as he did, the cars in front had some random (I couldn’t see why) reason to slow a lot, quite suddenly. But there was a moment that he had to brake hard as well, as I slowed. I had a heart in mouth moment that I was about to see him run into the back of the cars. It was pretty close, with him swerving towards the other lane as well.

The cars slowed like this a couple of times, as the other rider continued to sit off the back of the last car.

Expecting the worst at any moment I was slowly increasing my gap to this lot.

At this point the road became dual lane for a short period. The cars at the back who had also been frustrated at whatever the car in front had been doing, shot out into the new lane and along with the bike were racing for the merge.

Initially I did too.

But very quickly I could see that the bike was going to be stuck in the middle of a bunch of cars trying to merge before they hit some concrete walls and if I continued as I was going I would be in the middle of that too. I back off several car lengths to let them all sort it out.

One car almost merged right on top of the bike, he gave a wave, the usual SMIDSY.

It was extremely close from my POV, and looking at it, that car drove through where I would likely been riding too. Still expecting the worst.

It all cleared up shortly after, but I was astounded that the other rider continued to ride on the rear bumper of the cars, even after two near misses in less than a kilometre.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised…. the Nike shoes he wore looked expensive, but matched nicely with the red Ducati 999s….

We don’t like it when cars tailgate us…. why do some of us do it to them??

Putty Day

Mrs has the day off for a change and wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. So I went for a ride. I headed up the Putty with another rider who had not been up that way before.

The weather was cloudy, but clearing however the cool night and perhaps some early morning rain had made the road damp around Colo. This was a little concerning, but soon after it was clear that it was just localised and with the cloud expected to clear, it would be dry later.

Grey Gums for breakfast, and a warning from someone southbound about cops further north and we’re back on the road. No real surprise that cops would be about, sunny day, Sunday and no double demerits – I actually expected more bikes around than I saw.

I was keen to get right up to 10-mile Putty so my friend could see the best part. If only it wasn’t nearly 2 hours to get there. We did make it, but I really didn’t have time to cut some laps which was a shame. It was also clear that I’d met yet another rider who was faster than me – I think every rider I’ve ever met rides faster than I do. 

We fuelled at Broke and repeated the trip down the Putty. The cop was again spotted, with a fellow rider pulled over this time.

We had Comms between us the whole time, his Sena linking into one of the phone channels of my ScalaRider. Worked fine, but I was unable to listen to music or I think take other calls (no reception on Putty anyway so who cares). 

I am more encouraged about doing a track day as well, perhaps I’ll work something out to tag along the next time he goes.

Chasing the Old Man

  Been a week since we got back to Australia from NZ. It was a great trip and I got two MTB rides with my dad. I was very impressed with the trails around Rotorua, they were fast, fun, smooth and extensive. Busy as well, but it was the school holidays so I guess that was to be expected. 

Dad lives close enough that after a couple of km we were at the base of the trails. From here, both times, it was of course…. UP.

And up in NZ is a lot different to up in Australia, where we have small rises and they get called mountains. In NZ they actually have mountains and so the small rises and large hills are just that, small rises and large hills. And so Dad has spent pretty much every day for the past ten or more years riding these trails, and up these hills. 

No sweat for him, but his poor Aussie son (and previously his poor Aussie son-in-law) had to walk parts of the up. But we were rewarded with some pretty cool trails. A couple of the more well known are probably “Mad if ya don’t” and “B Rude not 2”. 

I had to struggle along on his “other” bike – a carbon framed Santa Cruz Solo, while he struggled ahead on the Bronson, also carbon framed.

Honestly, it was only a couple of times when I actually had to lift the bike that I felt the lack of mass.

I went as fast as I was confident to ride, and was pretty scared most of the way down really. I checked out Dad’s usual times for those runs and he was holding back about 25-50% on most runs. Oh dear, I have a lot of catching up to do…

  

The Dusodoro

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A giant farm bike is sometimes how I feel riding this bike. I think that might be because I’ve not ridden any motards and very few naked bikes. 

While in NZ I will be taking every chance to ride this Aprillia Dusodoro 1200. Have done about 150km so far and it’s been good – it’s not the bike I would buy but it’s a good ride. 

The first time I chopped the throttle in first gear I almost bumped the handlebars and then opening the throttle I almost flew off the bike. The big v-twin has plenty of go. Manoeuvrability is excellent with the high position, wide bars (not clip ons) and vision is great too. It’s a big dirt bike seat so likely not so comfy long distance. 

But with a fuel tank of something like 14L it hasn’t got the range to spend too long before a break. And this is probably the main limitation of the bike if you’re going to be roaming about on it. 

  
  
Where any bike is better than no bike this is a pretty good bike to be “stuck” with. Not a bike that would suit me or what I ride (I’d almost need to refuel it every other day on the commute) but an interesting ride. 

Down Under

  Not day 1, it’s about day 3, but time to write something. I’ve brought the girls over to New Zealand to visit the grandparents. Been a few years since we visited them instead of the other way around. 

Two things I am looking forward to are riding dad’s motorcycle and riding MTB in one of the best places in NZ and maybe the whole of Southern Hemisphere!

So far we have walked in some of the bush (once the first day or so of rain cleared up) and been up to the Luge. Both girls had a go on their own, though the younger lost her confidence after rounding a corner and crashing into an adandoned cart. But much fun was had and their slogan “once is never enough” is just as true today as it was when I first started riding it about 25 years ago. 

2015 in Review

About Bikes

IMG_0035Bike wise I’m missing the VFR. Carrying stuff, commuting is all harder without it. There’s no money to replace it, unless the Daytona goes. And there is still 10 years of riding memories….

The Daytona got some good rides and I really enjoy it, its a fantastic fun bike. Several short rides in Canberra practising skills. I feel as though the latest trip up the Putty was better for that practice. I’m keeping the Daytona unless commuting becomes really unmanageable.

About Mountain Bikes

IMG_2699MTB was a busy year, benefiting from having the car and being in Canberra. I found it a lot of fun but I won’t have as many chances to ride back in Sydney. Squeezing family, work, study, motorcycles and MTB all together is going to be a challenge.

Babes (Family)

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History Time

We moved into our own house this year. My youngest started school and both my girls did great. Proud of them both. I introduced them to some old school games. They also discovered Minecraft, which they have enjoyed but I need to keep an eye on how much they spend playing already:)

Bytes

WoWScrnShot_010815_061906Nothing much here at all. Sorry about that. I am trying to get into something to play regularly, but I just haven’t found anything of interest. I keep planning to upgrade the PC and get into something like Mechwarrior Online but I just haven’t. I have managed to break out of WoW. I don’t think its a bad game, but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. This year may also be a bit bereft of playtime as I get deeply into study.

Oh, and Netflix too, that takes some time up doesn’t it.

About the Site.

Well, ever since I dropped out of WoW, readership has plummeted. The odd one or two posts still garners interest, but they are the same posts every year – the Naga review and the couple around when I was deciding between the Daytona and the GSXR.

There are still a few diehard followers and some random people drop by, mostly seem to come in from Navi’s blog at Frostwolves. By comparison, Cymre over at Bubbles of Mischief had 2600 visits on her busiest day, I had 1500 all year.

h8y2d

So the future…

I’ll just keep dribbling on about stuff, more bikes, less MTB, maybe more bytes. I like to keep this “diary” anyway.

 

2015 Last Ride

Mrs Mab let me out for a ride this NYE Eve. I headed up the Putty, leaving home at about 6am. This way I could be home with some time with the family.

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The second time past it was busier than I expected. 

My first time up here since the previous spring (in 2014 that is). There didn’t seem to be much different along the road itself. I expected only a few bikes if any – even though it was shaping up to be a clear 25C day. It is double demerits from before Christmas until after New Years, so a lot of the young or silly crew stay away.

I passed a police car just outside Wilberforce, he had a customer (and it was a car) already so ignored me.

I got to Grey Gums shortly after 0730. By this time, I was pretty hungry, I kept getting distracted by imagining a big bacon, eggs, sausages sorta breakfast. Didn’t quite cause me to crash, but I certainly had to refocus a couple of times. I had never arrived this early and I was worried it would be shut. As I rolled down the road (the entrance a little past the cafe when you are northbound) it was clearly open. Apparently from 0700. Everyday except Christmas Day.

New owners I think, certainly some renovations. More shade, more tables and more concrete exclusively for bikes, gotta love em.

A hearty breakfast (which also included toast, mushrooms and onions) and I was on my way.

I hit Ten Mile and did 5 laps to end up heading towards Broke (for fuel). It is a great stretch, but it takes almost 2 hours to get there from home. There has been some roadworks done. Some corners widened but the most significant was on several of the corners the armco now stretches right to the ground and the posts are behind. Importantly that should mean its harder for a crashing rider to slid under or hit a post when they hit the armco. A lot better than more wires.

Very happy with how I improved across the runs as I loosened up. Still slow compared to most, but smooth and safe. Interesting, even though I generally stick close to the speed limits, even I felt an overwhelming urge to check my throttle early out of many of the corners. That did put a little damper on it.

After Broke I contemplated going home via Wiseman’s Ferry, but decided I would already be away a long time and I don’t know if they have repaired the river side leg, it was pretty rough on the VFR. On the taunt Daytona I would be scrambled.

My last trip down the Ten Mile was spoiled by some old tourists from Queensland who drove slow and couldn’t stay in their lane. Eventually they were passed.

I stopped again at Grey Gums for a snack then straight home. An enjoyable ride, but its been a while since I’ve done such a long one (about 6 hours in the saddle) and I felt a bit weary the last hour.

Also, my weight loss over the past month has meant my pants went on a bit easier:)

 

Progress is a funny thing

So when I was about 10, if I wanted to listen to music, I put a tape in my Walkman, put the headphones on and pressed play. If I wanted to listen in the lounge, I moved the tape in the Hi-fi in the lounge and pressed play.

Today to listen in the lounge I used my phone app to switch on the amp, and then remote control my iMac to select the playlist and play over the network.

The iMac dutifully fetched the songs from the NAS, then AirPlay across to the Amp, which played it out the speakers, while displaying the track info on the TV.

So, including the switch and the router (for the Wifi), that’s SEVEN devices, just to play a song.

It sounds silly like that, but then when you think that I can

  • play the same music upstairs or in the computer room (I can actually play different music in both if I get the Apple TVs involved) at the same time;
  • play music outside;
  • play a movie inside and music outside;
  • play a movie on the computer, a different one upstairs, another different one downstairs, while listening to music outside.;
  • and only have 1 copy of the music or movie on the NAS.
  • and listen to music on the phone on headphones.

maybe it isn’t so silly???