Lessons (re)learned

1. Paint is slippery

2. Tarmac is hard


The Elements Of Style

No, not the thing about sock length. Or wearing particular shorts with particular jerseys. Or saddle bags. Not even Strunk & White’s famed and venerable treatise on the topic of well-formed English.

This is about a different kind of Style. This kind of style

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Where have I been?

I just moved this blog to a new, shiny and fast web server and thought it might be an opportune time to post on why I’ve been absent of late.

A few months back, I had some fairly chunky troubles with anxiety and depression. It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it did sneak up on me and it hit quite hard. So I was off the bike for a few weeks there. It coincided with a change of job and a shift in my specialisation, which has caused a massive learning curve, biting further into my riding time. On top of that, getting back on the bike has been interrupted by a couple of periods of sickness and a painful recurrent shoulder problem, which has wrecked my sleeping patterns and required repeated physio treatment.

In the wash-up, I’ve missed a few key races, including the Ken Dinnerville Memorial Handicap, the Rocky Trail 12 hour, The Oaks Classic and a number of others. My power is down, my endurance has gone AWOL and I’ve lost a bit of handling confidence.

So, it’s not been a great couple of months, riding-wise. And then over the last week, I’ve been knocked sideways by a respiratory infection and as a result I’ve managed maybe 100km out of my usual weekly target of 350km+.

But Le Tour is here, and there’s an end in sight for the shoulder injury, and we’re past midwinter and back on the way to longer days and warmer weather. So things are looking up. I’m planning another Everesting attempt – my third – and trying to schedule in a twelve-hour chunk of time in which to take on Sufferlandrian Knighthood. Watch this space. And of you spot me out on the road, remind me about Rule #5, wouldn’t you?

A Bridge Too Fast?

In response to the SMH’s beat-up of yesterday

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jason Brown <redacted@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 2:41 PM
Subject: A Bridge Too Fast
To: letters@smh.com.au

Regarding Melanie Kembrey’s Monday piece on Pyrmont Bridge, I feel I might have to clue your readers (and writers) into Cycling 101.

A bicycle is a simple device which relies on momentum to provide stability. To put this simply, the slower you travel, the more of your attention must be devoted to keeping your bike upright. Stable when moving, unstable when stationary, grey area in-between. Pretty simple.
The fact that riders exceed 10km/h on Pyrmont Bridge is not, in the main, because they are hoons, or irresponsible, or bad citizens. It’s simply because tottering along below 10km/h feels markedly less safe, stable and controlled – to most riders – than cruising along just that bit faster.
This is just physics. Physics and human nature.
Putting it back in context, this makes Pyrmont Bridge – and in fact most ‘shared’ paths – a poor choice of cycle route. However Sydney’s infrastructure deliberately funnels CBD to Inner-West riders into this busy corridor, with few other routes available. Alternative routes are either stocked with hostile traffic, prohibitively circuitous or simply unworkable.
The solution? As David Borella states: More and better infrastructure, not griping about riders exceeding an arbitrarily-defined speed limit.
 SMH declined to print this, instead opting for two anti-bike responses, both attempting to tar the many with the brush of a few, one citing a cyclist running a red light and hitting a child, the other citing a cyclist hitting a pedestrian on a footpath in Earlwood. As ever, these solitary, context-devoid isolated incidents alone say nothing about the overall ‘problem’. I’m sorry they happened, but they’re NOT relevant to the larger debate. I could cite statistics of people being injured by drivers, by joggers, by skateboarders and, yes, by pedestrians. Isolated incidents are useless in examination of wider issues.
The real problem is that too little infrastructure is safe or suitable for multi-mode transport options. Too many roads are hostile to riders, forcing them onto footpaths or backstreets, where they come into conflict with pedestrians. Too many ‘planned’ cycle routes – Pyrmont Bridge included – are run in denial of the realities of multi-mode transport. Shared infrastructure should NEVER form part of a commuter route, yet that’s exactly what City of Sydney have done by funneling Inner-West traffic to and from the CBD over a busy pedestrian foot bridge (two, in fact, if you count the Anzac Bridge).
That’s the problem here. Not the stupid actions of a minority – Idiots will always exist no matter what you do – but the absurd cycling ‘infrastructure’ that Sydney riders must deal with day-in, day-out.

2014 Shimano MTB GP Series Round 1

This weekend saw the first round of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Shimano MTB GP go off at Awaba MTB Park in NSW’s Hunter region. A huge turnout braved the mud and changeable weather after some rather touch-and-go weather conditions through the week. The first attempt at running the event was a washout, so everyone was eager to get the series started, not the least being the organisers, who took to social media to calm nervous entrants who’d spent much of the leadup glued to the BoM radar.

I was, of course, entered – with two changes from last year. This year I’d be racing in the seven hour category instead of four, and also I’d be ticking over from the Elite into the Masters age group, since I’ll be turning 40 in 2014.

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Taking it elsewhere

Credit: zilverpics on flickr. noncommercial reuse licenceI don’t know about you, but I don’t like letting my bikes out of my sight. Sure, on a cafe ride I’ll park it, unlocked, somewhere nearby, but at any other time, the bikes do not leave my side. Ever.

I don’t even like to lock the bikes to public bike racks. We’re looking at several thousand dollars worth of carbon and alloy apiece, not $100 K-Mart specials. I think I’m fairly justified in this, given that bike thieves have plenty of techniques at their disposal to break bike locks. Not only that, but being race bikes, everything is quick-release, meaning it’s pretty damn difficult to secure everything – wheels, seatpin, accessories. It becomes a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the possibility that some clown may just take it upon themselves to break something instead of just stealing it.

So generally, if I’m doing a local shop run, I take my bike into the shopping centre with me, and wheel it around. Maybe you do the same. Or maybe I’m weird. Continue Reading →

An interesting test from @carbonaddiction

1522923_548857148545704_1200429868_oPete over at Carbon Addiction has devised a little quiz to determine if one is a road bike snob. I was going to answer in a comment but it got a little long and involved. So I put it here instead.

1. Do you find it difficult to say hello to a passing commuter on a flat-bar hybrid?

I find it difficult to say hello to anyone. I’m too busy desperately trying to suck in all the oxygen in the surrounding 100m3, sweating into my own eyes and drooling from both sides of the mouth. To say hello in that state would be… unseemly. I’d probably get reported to the RSPCA as a rabid animal.

Also, I’d risk projecting spittle into the face of the passing commuter in question.

So no, not even trying.

2. Do you secretly laugh inside at the sight of a rider with a sun visor on his or her helmet?

No. But zipties, now they’re another matter entirely. Seriously. I mean. Man. Zipties? They don’t even work and you end up looking like Sonic The Hedgehog’s senile grandpa.  Yeah, I secretly laugh inside at that.

Also openly. On the outside.

3. Do you pity social riders who wear WorldTour team kit in public?

I dunno. Which team is it? Oh no, not Mapei? Or that seethrough Team Sky thing?

Oh no the mental pictures please make them stop NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

4. Would you be embarrassed to ride with someone who has reflectors on their wheels or, heaven forbid, a bell on their handlebars?

Nah, I always had a secret crush on Mary Poppins. Didn’t we all?

5. Are you allergic to steel bicycle frames or wheels wider than 23mm?

Everyone who’s anyone is riding 25mm these days, don’tcherknow. And I have a steel framed 26er somewhere, just waiting for me to rebuild it as a singlespeed. So no.

6. Is 29km/h too slow?

29km/h is a perfectly respectable average speed.


Or on a mountain bike.

7. If someone has their sunglasses inside their helmet straps do you notice?

Yes. It’s a safety thing. If your straps are over your sunglass arms then turning your head can dislodge the glasses off your nose and cause a distraction and therefore an accident. I’ve done it myself. If you’re a highly aware rider, like you should be, it’s really annoying having your sunglasses pushed around on your face just because you’ve forgotten to put them on right. I had no smartass answer for this one. Sorry.


So there we go. I think it’s just possible I’m a road bike snob. Or a mountain bike snob. Or maybe just a snob. I don’t even know.

Thanks Pete.


Sydney Waste Services and dangerous driving

Sydney Waste Services: Responsible driving? What's that?

Sydney Waste Services: Responsible driving? What’s that?

This morning on my ride to work I was subjected to a very dangerous close pass in a door zone by a garbage truck carrying the logo and contact details of Sydney Waste Services. The incident happened on Harris Street, Pyrmont, between Miller Street and John Street, heading North.

This is a mixed commercial/residential zone with a long strip of short term parking on the left, already a potential danger zone in and of itself.

I’d just turned left out of Miller Street on the green arrow and was heading along Harris at perhaps 30km/h when the garbage truck I’d passed at the Miller Street lights thundered past me at close range. The truck was maybe 15cm from the end of my handlebar as it appeared, and it felt like I was squeezed towards the parked cars as it passed along.

I yelled out, naturally, “Too close!”. The left-side window was open and a dismissive hand emerged, accompanied by what sounded like a “fuck off”.

Nice, huh?

(post updated 27-3-14, see footer for detail) Continue Reading →

Changes. But for the better?



In the wake of a terrible few weeks for cycling, a dooring in Melbourne, a nightmare rear-ender in Brisbane and multiple riders being hospitalised in Sydney – all seemingly due to inattentive car users – a few Sydney clubs have been making changes.

Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club, the club directly affected by the shocking Sydney incident, have removed Southern Cross Drive from their ride roster entirely. Randwick Botany Cycling Club havetaken a different tack and are now endeavouring to make their club rides vehicle-supported, with a tail-end vehicle equipped with “cyclists ahead” signage.

I’ve seen mixed opinions on this, and I’m not sure of the full implications of these two announcements myself. But I do have some commentary.
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The 2014 SCODY Three Peaks Challenge – Part 3: Dinner Plain to Falls Creek

3peaksfinishWhen we left off the last post, I’d just gratefully rolled into the Dinner Plain lunch stop, slightly behind schedule but optimistic, despite some warning shots from a niggling leg injury…

Lunch at Dinner Plain was one of the tastiest roast vegetable wraps I’d ever tasted. After ten gels or so, actual food tasted like a five michelin star experience. I half expected Heston Blumental to step out of a nearby door and grin at me inanely. It probably wasn’t testament to the quality of the food, but rather my body’s desperate craving for something that wasn’t a vaguely disgusting fructose/maltose paste. I also grabbed two cans of coke for a sugar/caffeine boost.

While eating, I rid myself of the base layer that’d been a perfect choice for the Falls Creek descent but had been overkill since Harrietville, and grabbed my clothing valet bag. I’d packed a second set of gloves, so got rid of the sweaty pair I’d had on for the first half. I also sent my windvest and base layer in the return bag, certain that there wouldn’t be a sudden drop in temperature over the next few hours. I’d also packed a heaping helping of gels and bars for the last section, which got shoved into various parts of my kit, sleeves, legs, pockets, the lot. Prepping to leave, I ran into the main contingent of LACC riders just coming in. A couple of them were looking a little grim, so I wished them luck, pointed them towards food and headed off.

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