Riders on the storm

April 29, 2015 at 20:49 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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‘The storm of the Century’. “Stormpocalypse’. These were the headlines after Sydney recently copped some bad weather. Some areas north of Sydney had some truly appalling weather – with significant flooding, houses washed away, and tragically a number of people died.

Central Sydney, however, got some heavy rain and it was a bit windy. Yes, there were a few local streets a bit flooded. A fair few trees came down. Some houses were damaged a bit. But it did seem a bit odd that the Sydney Morning Herald seemed to devote so much space to the problems of umbrellas being turned inside out. Umbrellageddon indeed…

pathblockedThings did all get quite exciting when the NSW Premier, Mike Baird, told everyone to go home early to avoid the storm. This prompted a mass exodus from our office, and many people offered me a lift, as surely I wasn’t going to ride?

Well, of course I was. As I said to my colleagues, I’d get wet, but get home on time. They were going to be stuck in a traffic jam for five hours. So I rode home, and yes, it was wet and rather windy, but not that bad. I did pass a lot of stationary traffic, however…

The next morning, there was a problem, however. A tree had come down over the path leading to Gladesville Bridge, completely blocking the way. This is the only way to access the path over the bridge, and is a busy commuter route. The steel fence made it rather hard to get round, although I (and several others) managed to lift our bikes over and then climb over ourselves.

pathclearSo the following morning I took a pair of secateurs (I couldn’t fit anything bigger in my bag), with a view to cutting my way through. Cutting through a fallen tree with some small shears is actually rather hard, I discovered, but I am rather stubborn and once I get started I like to finish. So I hacked away at the thick foliage, working the blades round and round each branch until it yielded. After about an hour, I had cleared a small path through. Just as I finished, someone rode through on a mountain bike, barely slowing down. My path was open!

I did report the fallen tree to both the council and the RMS (Sydney roads authority), but as yet it has not been properly cleared. I daresay there is quite a backlog of work to be done; however one wonders if the trees that blocked major commuter motorist routes were attended to rather sooner…

Finally, I must tip my hat to this mystery cyclist, whose image has been flashed across the globe as he powers through Sydney floodwaters. If ever there was a picture that demonstrated the practicality and exuberance of cycling vs the impotent, soulless scourge of the motor vehicle, it is surely this!

 

cycliststorm

Arnott’s Shortbread Cream – Strawberries and Cream

April 24, 2015 at 16:40 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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strawberriescreampackWell, those folks at Arnott’s have been busy, with the innovation department churning out yet another new range – called ‘Twisted Favourites’. There seems to be three in the range so far – a salted caramel version of the Monte Carlo, a choc orange version of the Delta Cream, and these, based on the Shortbread Cream.

I must say, I quite like the packaging. It’s nice to see the Arnott’s parrot in all it’s glory – this decidedly retro and un-digital-friendly logo should be used more, IMHO.

When you open the pack you are immediately assailed by a phenomenally strong smell of strawberry flavour. Not, unfortunately, strawberries, but that immediately recognisable artificial flavour that you get in cheap lollies. Except here it’s dialed up to eleven. It instantly fills the whole room; everyone who came within ten metres of my review packet commented on it.

strawberriescreambiscuitAnd then, when you bite into it, that flavour is dialled up yet again. Wow. That’s a lot of strawberry flavour in there. Now, if you absolutely love strawberry flavoured lollies, you are going to love these. Unfortunately, I do not. It’s too overwhelming, it obliterates the buttery goodness of the biscuit, is too sweet and has that slightly ‘dirty’ taste that seems to be ever present with cheap strawberry flavour.

Hmmm. Sorry Arnott’s, but this one’s another dud. I know. I hate to do it to you again. But for whatever reason, lately you’ve just seemed to have lost you mojo. Fingers crossed the others in the range are better – I’ll be getting to them in due course…

But for now this gets just two out of ten.

Double radish!

April 22, 2015 at 12:36 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Well, my youngest finally outgrew the little BoBike seat. Her knees were practically jammed up against the handlebars, so it was time for an upgrade to a ‘big girl seat’.

doubleradishI showed her the colours available, and (somewhat unexpectedly) she chose black. So I ordered one from the internets, and a week or so later it arrived and we were ready to roll.

Fitting it to the bike was very easy; just move the other one back and put it in front. Because this entails bolting two adapter thingys to the rear rack, the bonus upside is that I now have a long flat surface back again, which will negate the need for extra bits when transporting my trombone.

Tthe rear seat is definitely rather ‘economy’, with the seat in front quite close. Perhaps I could fit a tray table..! I might move the front one forward another notch (the holes are spaced about 5cm apart) – we’ll have to see how close to my backside the youngest daughter ends up when we’re riding. In the meantime, it was all good, although the extra weight on the rear made it much more unstable when loading, even with the double stand. It also exacerbated the flex in the frame that Xtracycles tend to have, given it’s not a one-piece frame but a bolted-on extender.

Strangely, however, my youngest seems to have developed some sort of phobia about going on the bike. She’s fine when we get going, and loves going fast down the hills,  but every time we stop she starts crying and gets all panicky because ‘it’s wobbling’. Not quite sure what that’s all about – hopefully it will wear off soon, as it’s quite hard to find routes where I don’t have to stop..!

New pedals – at last

April 17, 2015 at 09:28 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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pedalsI’ve been riding my fixie for nearly ten years, pretty much every day. And, for the last few years I’ve noticed that my feet seem to slop around in the pedals rather, even with new cleats.

Anyway, I finally got around to buying new pedals to replace the ones that I got with the bike all those years ago.

It was only when comparing the old ones with the new ones that just how worn they were became apparent! Still not bad going for a set of basic, no-frills pedals (Shimano PD-R540, for those interested). Amazing how much of the actual metal structure of the thing has work away!

So now I have my shiny new ones on the bike. I daresay I’ll probably find them really stiff to unclip and end up doing a sprawl of shame. Hey ho! In another ten years they should have loosened up nicely…

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