Sunday, March 2, 2008

Busy, Busy Bike Week

Heather and I took a quick spin this afternoon in the wheelchair bike, since she was feeling moderately okay and hadn't been out for ages. She'll pay for the hour-long excursion over the next few days, but did enjoy getting to see the next street over as we dropped a couple of things into letterboxes. The nearby creek bends around the end of the road, and although too steep down for us to get near the creek there were many long driveways with flax and other 'wild' plants along the roadside above. This was a relaxing way to end a busy but encouraging week which has at several times deprived Heather of my company.

On Monday night I tested a set of front and rear lights with flashing indicators, with a view to writing a review for Chainlinks magazine. They're just coming into NZ, and will soon be available for $120. I could see them being useful, but indicating isn't a major requirement for my commute and they don't fit quite right on any of my current bikes. I reckon they'll sell a fair few units, and it was fun riding round with them. Nick, the importer, says they are considering a 3-unit set for rickshaws, and they would work sweetly on the trailer. I don't take it out on the road after dark at present, and would like to be able to indicate even when I'm pulling into or out of the main traffic flow.

Writing the review took well into the night Tuesday, and I didn't see Heather in the morning either as I left early for the ...

Bike-to-Work Breakfast

On Wednesday there was a big breakfast put on by local government for anybody who cycled to work in town. About 700 people turned up, which was pretty good. Only three came from my work, which was way poor even by our standards. Having so few makes it hard to request t-shirts from the management for this or similar events.

I did enjoy the breakfast, however, and traded a ride on my NuVinci for a ride on a Rohloff-equipped Birdy. Nice bike, that. And the Rohloff was certainly easier to shift than I've got the NuVinci at this point. About 5 times the price, of course. I also talked to some chaps from about the NuVinci, and whether it could be adapted for their needs. The big issues are whether it can be adapted to run fixed, and if it will become lighter over time. I progressed to work via Bike Central, and was pleased to see their facilities for the first time.


My big event for the week was a lunchtime cycle ride to the Harbour Bridge and back, which I organised at work. I was thrilled to get nine along in total, including four who don't usually cycle and one who hasn't commuted since a bad accident last year. Even better, there is talk of another trip next week. People seemed to like being at the beach in the middle of a working day.
Our route took us along the waterfront downtown, past the marina, and right under the bridge. There is wee beach just by the motorway on-ramp, where we stopped for a pleasant repast. The geography conspires to hide the adjacent bustle, and the sun shone to complete the scene. Unfortunately lunch was immediately followed by a climb regaining perhaps 75% of the height lost in our initial descent. One of our party had to walk, and another required stops on the way, but the quiet road afforded all the time required.

On Monday I had taken my two spare bicycles in on the trailer so that I could lend them out. That worked out well, although it was perhaps tactless to pack a lunch that needed to be transported on the rack of a bike I wasn't riding. Particularly when that rack snapped its upper mounting and pivoted back onto the ground less than five minutes into the ride! Fortunately we had a spare bungee to tie it up with, and the ceramic quiche plate didn't break.

Riding the trailer in wasn't too hard, although it helped that I had just dropped the front ring on that bike (the NuVinci one) to 36 teeth (giving 28-100 gear inches). I did manage to tip the trailer on its side on one corner, forgetting how high the load was on the one side, and scraped up the corner of an old lady's seat. No structural damage, so all was happy.

Critical Mass

Finally, and quite excitingly, I joined the first Critical Mass seen in Auckland for some years. I joined a couple in 2005, riding once with only 3 people, so was pleasantly surprised to see 70-80 turn up! Props to the people organising it, who did a good job of spreading the word. There were a few belligerent young men present, mostly riding fixies - was glad I had left mine at work, but was interested to discover most were riding roughly 42/17 which was my main gear for Taupo. We ran almost all the read lights, which I think is a poor choice. Even worse was that a few riders weren't deferring to pedestrians. Hopefully I and like-minded riders can inculcate a change of practise over time. Still, I would rather have the event than not.

Met some interesting Young Greens and their friends at the pub afterwards. Most of the riders were quite young, I noticed, which contrasts with the 35-45 peak age bracket for sport cycling. Not a great pub, and they weren't prepared for forty cyclists dropping in together. Poor single-handed barman did a sterling job, however, and they had Bulmers which is about the best of the ciders you can get on tap around here.

So - a good week all round but slightly tiring. Hope it has an impact going forwards.

ps. Apologies for any archaic turn of phrase. Heather is listening to The Well at the World's End while I write.

1 comment:

Yvette said...

People should read this.