First ride of 2015

January 8, 2015 at 13:36 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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mapWell, I got out on my first leisure ride for 2015 quick smart, going out with a mate on the 1st January for a spin. Such rides are now rare events, since the little ones arrived. Gone are the days of spending Sunday morning pottering around Bondi or going out to Watson’s Bay. Still, my once-regular riding buddy was in town (for some reason he moved to Adelaide…) so I took the opportunity.

It wasn’t a long ride, nor a fast one. This was in large part because my erstwhile riding buddy has gone all soft in the head since moving to SA, selling his fixie, more or less abandoning his road bike and spending all his time on some new-fangled thing I understand is called a ‘mountain bicycle’. So when he called up to see if I fancied a ride, he did say he would be on knobbly tyres, and ‘will be slow’. I was tempted with a rejoinder ‘so no change there then’, but I resisted, in part because my fitness is hardly up to much and I figured there was a good chance I’d be trailing behind, knobbly tyres or no.

As it was we had a very cruisy ride, chatting as we went, taking in some of the parts of Sydney we remembered from our days commuting (we used to work together). Hence the new Iron Cove bridge (this is new, and really quite good), Gladesville Bridge (still terrible), Epping Rd SUP (ahh, the memories!), North Sydney and SHB steps (seriously, they haven’t changed this yet?), the SHB (the best commute ever), Pyrmont Bridge (much improved with no monorail – are there any cops today?), finishing with a coffee in Pyrmont (absolutely terrible, but limited choice of places given the public holiday).

selfieAll very nice, and we took a selfie outside of our old office building – the building we both worked at when we started riding to work. It was a horrible building in many ways, with a stinky shower on the top floor and no bike facilities, but it was working there that got us both addicted to cycling. If you can call mountain biking ‘cycling’…

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Toddlers and vehicular cycling

July 25, 2013 at 22:45 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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Ever since Little Chillikebab got her first bike, she’s gradually getting better at riding it. She’s been riding it to the park sometimes, with me walking along. Whilst she still shuffles along a lot of the time, she is starting to get the hang of scooting along so the bike rolls while she lifts up her feet.

Riding balance bikeAs she’s getting quite proficient, when I needed to pop to the shop, I suggested that she could ride her bike, and I would ride mine too. She seemed quite excited about the idea of both riding, so I got her bike out of the garage and told her to take it to the end of the drive whilst I got the Radish out.

I glanced down the drive to see Little Chillikebab waiting for me at the edge of the curb, ready to go into the road.

‘No no,’ I called, ‘we’ll ride on the pavement.’

She looked back at me with a puzzled expression. “But bikes go on the road, Daddy!’ she said plaintively.

This was a problem I had not foreseen. Apparently years of ferrying her around on my bike has turned her into a committed vehicular cyclist. After some discussion (she was not ready to give up on the riding on the road idea easily) I convinced her that it was OK to ride on the pavement, and off we went.

She did really well. It was quite a challenge for me to ride that slowly, but we got there. I was expecting her to give up or get tired, but she rode the whole way  – about a kilometre or so. It’s mostly on a barely discernible downhill, which certainly helps, but I was very proud. My first bike ride with my daughter!

Toddler Chillikebab’s first ride!

October 8, 2011 at 20:21 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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I finally got around to doing something I’d been meaning to do for months – get a child seat so I can take Toddler Chillikebab with me on the bike. What finally prompted me to get it was necessity; it seems with the various schedules for Mrs Chillikebab, Baby Chillikebab and Toddler Chillikebab I was going to need a way to get Toddler Chillikebab to her oh-so-middle-class-structured-playgroup thing without using the car.

I had been mulling whether to get the custom kiddie seat that fits on the back of the Radish, or one that goes on the front. The one on the front had more appeal, but they can get in the way of pedalling; indeed one bike shop I went in to ask about them told me they had stopped selling them as everyone was bringing them back because they couldn’t ride the bike with them.

But the Xtracycle one seemed rather expensive, and it was going to take ages to come, and then I saw a BoBike seat in the window of the bike shop around the corner, so I bought it. I fitted it to the bike, and we were ready for our first ride!

Toddler Chillikebab seemed quite content to be put in the seat, and happily fiddled with the lights and the bell as we set off. I had promised her we would be going to the park, but we made  a detour first to post some letters.

‘Are you enjoying the ride?’ I asked her once we had been going a few minutes.

She took the whole thing in her stride, didn’t mention anything about the bike but pointed forward and said ‘Park! Go to park!’. Clearly she was quite comfortable with the whole bike thing, except for the fact that it wasn’t getting to the promised destination fast enough.

And once we got home, she excitedly told Mrs Chillikebab about the slide, and the swings, and going to the park, but didn’t even mention the bike. Hey ho; I am very keen that people start seeing bikes as normal and not noteworthy, rather than exotic and strange, so I suppose I should be applauding the matter-of-fact attitude of Toddler Chillikebab. But I secretly wished she had perhaps been a little more excited about her first ride…

Annual jaunt to Watsons Bay…

January 1, 2011 at 09:57 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Well, I did make it out for a ride yesterday, and given the time of year thought I should make my annual pilgrimage to Watson’s Bay on the fixie.

Amazingly this is the first recreational ride of 2010 that I have done on my own. Ive been out a handful of times with friends this year, but not on my own. Strange to think it was something I did pretty much every weekend in 2009. How things are changed by having children!

I was slightly trepidatious as I set off; I’ve done a lot less riding this year and even less of it on the fixie. How would I manage? Would I get up the hills?

As I started the first modest hill climbing up after Double Bay, I started to have doubts. It just seemed like very hard work, and the little derailleur devil started in my ear, telling me I should have brought the ‘wife’ out for one last ride before I sell her. I struggled on, however, and it began to get easier as I found my rhythm.

By the time I got to the big hill up to Vacluse I was well into my stride. I just danced up it (well, puffed and panted a bit, but in a fun kind of way). I love my fixie – and was reassured that riding the Radish hasn’t caused all my leg muscles to atrophy! I whizzed down the hill into Watson’s Bay; my one concession to tiring legs was to use the brakes to slow down. Eighteen months ago I’d have used back pressure on the pedals to moderate my speed, but it only felt like cheating a little bit…

After a quick pit stop at Camp Cove, I headed back. The climb out of Watson’s Bay is one of the steeper stretches, but any attempt to get up some speed to attack it was thwarted by a couple of cyclists coming around the roundabout from the other direction with right of way. I had to go past them, as they were pootling up (using, as I understand it, these new-fangled things called ‘gears’…) which gave me an incentive to push on to the top without pausing for a breather!

I took the Old South Head Road back, taking a detour to Bondi to look at beach; the preparations for the NYE party were in full swing and things were a bit chaotic so I continued through and up to Waverley Park and then on to Centennial Park. I scooted around Centennial, but then remembered it was a place with possible ‘H’ issues, so made my way home.

All in all a great ride. Whilst riding with friends is fun, and it’s nice to share the experience, I do like riding on my own. Alone with your thoughts, going at your own pace, pleasing no-one except yourself. Perhaps in 2011 I’ll try to get out more than once!

Nice weekend for a ride…

October 6, 2010 at 19:54 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Well, the tradition of wet long weekends continued last weekend, but that didn’t stop me getting out for a bit of a spin on Sunday morning. I met up with a mate, and we headed out west, towards Olympic Park.

Now, I’ve ridden to Olympic Park lots of times, and know various routes to get there. However, on Monday we got lost. Probably too much yakking and not enough paying attention to where we were. So we ended up riding along a fair stretch of Homebush Bay Drive. Whilst riding on what almost amounts to a freeway is never entirely comfortable, the traffic was fairly light – and there is something quite exhilarating about riding along a wide, smooth, straight road – especially when it has a slight downhill. Makes you realise just how good the trunk road network would be for cycling if only they banned those pesky cars!

We span (spinned? spun?) around OP for a bit; heading out on the paths to the ferry wharf. We got a bit lost again (!) but it didn’t really matter as we were just noodling around. Despite the rather poor weather, there were quite a few cyclists around. We then headed back at a good pace, finishing with a sprint up Lilyfield Road where I was rather embarrassingly dropped by my erstwhile riding partner. He’s got a lot faster since his daily commute more or less doubled in length, and he started talking all funny about ‘cadences’ and ‘interval training’. I’m going to need to put in some more hours on the bike to keep up!

Still, it was raining quite hard by this point, so I had the consolation of swishyness, whilst he had a wet bottom.

(For a final prize – where was the above photo taken? And it’s not good enough to just say ‘Olympic Park’. You need to be specific…)

Sunday morning ride

August 18, 2010 at 22:20 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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I was about here when I seriously began to question my choice of bike for an early-morning ride with a friend. Sunday morning rides have become very sporadic since the arrival of Baby Chillikebab, but two weeks or so ago morning I managed to get out for a ride. I was meeting a mate at 7am in Pyrmont, but he was a bit late leaving me standing around in the freezing cold. He then texted me the reason – ‘doing dump; taking longer than expected’. Ahhh. The all-important pre-ride poo. Still, probably too much information.

When he finally arrived we decided to head north, so first went out to check the surf at Manly before circling back around French’s Forest. We were kind of following our noses without having a real route planned, and turned onto Warringah Rd in order to head back towards Sydney with some vague plan to head for Chatswood. As the road dropped down and down we gathered speed, me pedalling like the clappers and my friend cruising along in fine style. (Eventually he got bored and sped off at about 80kph, leaving me tailing along behind.) However, as the road went down, I suddenly remembered where we were. ‘It’s Roseville bridge’, I thought, and sure enough suddenly there it was. Lovely views, but I didn’t enjoy them much as I’d also remembered the road climbing pretty steeply on the other side.

I’d hardly started on the incline and things started to feel bad. I even entertained the thought that I might have a flat, so suddenly did I find it tough going. Not a god time to bonk. I struggled on upwards, the only thing keeping me going was the sight of my mate up ahead, spinning the pedals in fine style. ‘He is not going to see me walking!’ I muttered, grinding the cranks round and round.

Of course, it was worth it. What elation getting to the top! I love my fixie. We cruised on along, through Chatswood, back down to North Sydney and then into the city, stopping for a celebratory coffee in Pyrmont. What a lovely day for a ride!

And the reward when getting home, of course, is vegemite toast. Bread for the carbs, slathered with butter for the calories and vegemite for the salt. All washed down with a mug of tea. Lovely!

The Mosman Hills…

April 5, 2010 at 17:35 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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What a lovely day for a ride! I managed to get out for a ride this morning – first time since the little one arrived. The logistics are all a bit more complicated now…

So I met up with a mate, and we rode out to Mosman, and down to Taronga Zoo, with two side trips down (and up!) to Bradley’s Head and Clifton Gardens. Then back in a loop via Lane Cove. A few reasonable hills to help work off the chocolate…

And, being a nice day, a chance to take the fixie for a spin. It is fun!

Not that my mate is convinced about the fixie. In his world, bikes have gears and are made by Masi! I think he was getting a bit frustrated at my inability to go down the hills at 60kph. When you can’t stop pedalling, there’s a point where you can’t spin your legs fast enough on the descent. That said, I did go up the hills faster than him!

Taking the wife to Watson’s Bay

January 24, 2010 at 22:54 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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A friend of mine has just come back from Adelaide, where he spent the summer break with his family. He came back just a bit too early to see any of the tour, but his brother-in-law rode the open ride stage, and had a lot of fun (notwithstanding the stinking hot weather and the headwind!). Anyway, he’s fired up to do the same thing next year, and bombarded me with a bunch of texts about ‘training’.

So, this morning, we hit the road at 6.30am in the drizzle; I suggested my bête noire , the ride out to Watson’s Bay. I had planned to take the fixie, to put my demons to rest, but given that it was raining I took the wife – it was too good an opportunity to experience the swishy goodness of mudguards.

It was all very smooth. Apart from my dry bottom (about which I lost no opportunity to point out to by riding buddy) the hills rolled underneath me quite easily, even with the heavier bike.Yet, yet, it’s not quite the same. To be half-way up a hill, and to drop a gear (which, especially if you’re pushing out of the saddle, involves losing some momentum as you ease off) somehow feels a bit, well, like cheating. And the wife, well, she’s sturdy and reliable, but it just wasn’t quite the same. I love her when she’s loaded up and I’m in full utility mode, but, um, how can I put this gently without hurting her feelings – she lacks excitement on a ride like that.

So next time, I’ll be back on the fixie.

Or maybe I need to invest in a more hard-core road bike…

Hmmm, that one’s going to be hard to justify with a new baby just weeks away!

(PS Where was youse all? Too soft to ride in the rain? We must have seen no more than three other cyclists all morning!)

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