Night time wonderland

May 25, 2012 at 00:53 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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It was a lovely day when I set off for work this morning – a fabulous day for a ride, in fact. It stayed nice all morning, and then in the afternoon the low cloud came in, and it began to rain.

Cold, wet, drizzly rain. I had a rehearsal again tonight, so afterwards faced the delights of a fairly long ride home, on the laden Radish, with no waterproofs or even sensible rain clothing – I was wearing cotton pants and a sweater which had already got quite sodden just from the short ride to the rehearsal venue.

I set off after rehearsal to the commiserations of my fellow musicians. ‘Don’t envy you tonight!’ they called out, as they got into their cars. And as I set off into the traffic, the cold wind whistling through my clothes and the rain soaking my legs I could see the attraction of a warm car.

But no ride is ever really that bad, and I soon started to warm up. And as I reached the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I had real reason to celebrate riding. The low cloud hanging over the city was such that it was obscuring the top of the great arch of the bridge. The lights that illuminate it were casting their glow into the mist, and the structure was clearly visible, lit by an almost ghostly light. The cloud lay over the top, and it looked for all the world like that great bridge was holding up the sky. Really beautiful; I have ridden across that bridge thousands of times, but there are always new surprises.

As I approached the CBD, the taller buildings were too pushing up into the cloud, and right in front of me as I rode was an apartment block; a bright yellow light at the top illuminating the mist like some kind of urban lighthouse. Magical, magical stuff. The cold and wet was forgotten as I surveyed the wonderland around me.

And who else was enjoying these views? Not the poor people in their cars, that’s for sure; peering through their rain splattered windows, the glare of the streetlights blocking out the view. No, my friends were wrong. They should envy me; this wonderful city is putting on a special show and I am the only one getting to see it. And all because I ride a bicycle.

 

I took a few pictures with my phone, but they don’t really do justice to the views. Still, perhaps you get the idea.

 

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There’s no such thing as bad weather…

July 21, 2011 at 20:56 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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…only the wrong shoes, as I found out today. Decked out in head to toe GoreTex, I braved Sydney’s wettest seventy-two hours for sixty-nine years to cycle into the city to meet someone. (I do love the way the SMH manages to find some sort of weather record virtually every single day. Things like ”The most rain on a day following a dry day during a week when the wind only blew in a southerly direction since 1972!‘ All good stuff – if there’s one things that has survived from the colonial days it is the oh-so-British obsession with the weather.)

I was wearing my walking boots, as I thought they would be waterproof, but alas they were not. Or rather, they boots themselves were, but the action of pedalling caused a gap to appear around my ankles – a gap into which large quantities of water flowed, neatly directed off my waterproof over-trousers. There weren’t many other cyclists out there tonight, but I did see one who perhaps had a better idea – he was wearing board shorts and Crocs. I guess if your feet are going to get wet anyway, you might as well have shoes that allow the water to flow out, as opposed my my boots which gradually filled up with water. By the time I got home I was carrying my two own private puddles around with me – squelch squelch squelch.

Notwithstanding my wet feet, the rest of me was warm and dry, and I did get a certain satisfaction cruising along, feeling very superior to the pedestrians scuttling along huddled under umbrellas and motorists enduring the inevitable gridlock that seems to accompany wet weather.

Whilst I was (mostly) waterproof, however, my bike lights were not. This is a bug-bear of mine. I have two lights on the back of the Radish, both reasonably expensive affairs from reputable bike shops, and both of which claim to be ‘waterproof’. Well, they are not. Take them out in wet weather, and water finds its way into the contacts. This causes them to switch on and off at random. It was frustrating enough to get back to my bike (which had been parked outside in the rain) to find one of the lights had evidently been on all day and the battery had gone flat. However, it was rather more concerning to arrive home and find that one of them had switched itself off during the journey, and the other had gone from solid to flashing mode. I don’t really want to be riding along in the dark with no tail lights in this kind of weather. Can anyone suggest a genuinely waterproof option?

Light (mis)adventures

December 6, 2010 at 23:36 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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I left work very late today, and when I came to hop on the bike outside the office, I discovered one of the rear lights wasn’t working. Aaarg! Batteries? Of course, I have a spare set in my bag, so switch them over. Nope, still no joy – seems the light is dead. I had a nasty feeling about this light after I last used it – which was a long ride in torrential rain. It wouldn’t switch off properly, and it seems it no will no longer switch on again.

Why do bike lights cope so badly with wet weather? It’s a decent light from a reputable bike shop, but they just don’t seem to be built for the rain. Very frustrating. My other working light gives me cause to celebrate my ‘two lights per bike’ strategy though, so I set off. Ironically the working light is an old cheap one that seems to withstand the rain quite OK.

Mrs Chillikebab has already warned me there’s is no food in the house (and that’s literally true, as everything is packed up for the impending house move), so I need to pick something up on the way home. I decide to ride home first, then get something to take home, so ride to Rozelle. I’m pretty hungry by this point, and spend a large part of the journey wondering what to get. Thai? Indian? Pide?

I’m not too hungry to enjoy the ride though, even going on a bit of a scenic detour through The Rocks. It’s a lovely night for a ride; quite warm and still. After a long stressful day at work, it’s the best way to unwind. I’m also riding the Peugeot, which I haven’t ridden for a few weeks, and there’s something nice about reacquainting yourself with an bike you haven’t ridden for a while. It seemed happy to be out of the shed too; bowling along really well coupled to my shiny white shoes!

I got to Rozelle, and had decided on Thai – a vegetable green currry, to be exact. However, it’s Monday night, and it’s later than I realised, and they have closed. As has the curry place. And the kebab shop. Even Subway (the last refuge of the desperate) is closed

What to do? I continue on a little way further, and am met by the welcoming sign of the pizza shop. Not my first choice, but by this point I’d eat anything. Except McDonald’s. I order at the counter, and he tells me it will be 10 minutes. I kill a couple of minutes looking in the window of the bike shop next door, but then decide to use the time by riding up to the ATM. I hook my bike lock over the handlebars and set off. I’m on Darling St when a car with a stupid farting turbo guns the engine behind me – and sure enough whizzes past too close when there’s traffic coming the other way over a humped intersection. It’s a 40kph zone, and he’s not going to get anywhere, but I suppose he needs to compensate for his inadequate manhood somehow. As he goes past, I feel the tyre catch something that spits out, and just catches my leg. ‘Bet that was a stone pushed into my path by that stupid car!’ I think uncharitably as I pull up at the ATM.

Only it wasn’t a stone. Looking down I realise that my lock had dislodged one of my front lights, and it has vanished. It must have dropped off – and must have been what I felt clipping the wheel. My heart sinks – not another light! I ride around in disconsolate circles for several minutes looking for it in the road, but to no avail – it’s not to be found

I go and pick up my pizza and head home, thinking of the now two replacement lights I need to buy. However, approaching my street I encounter a whole bunch of houses with their Xmas lights up on display all looking very jolly. Hey, what are two lights when there’s hundreds more to be enjoyed? Much cheered up, I turn into home to scoff my late night pizza.

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