Thursday, June 28, 2012

Feeling old & out dated?

Last weekend I had a work function that involved several beverages on a Sunday night. We had a fairly quiet sit down dinner that finished relatively early (or relatively late for me) and a few of the younger people decided to head across the road to a pub, to carry on the celebrations.

They asked me to join them and since it has been an eon since I last went out on the town, I decided to join them. We walked into the pub and there was no one in there. I thought, ‘Its Sunday night. No one is going to be out on a Sunday night’. We turned right, walked through a doorway and suddenly we were in a night club.

I felt old. The room was filled with girls dressed like a post Mean Girls – pre jail time Lindsay Lohan and guys that were struggling to have the right amount of hair sticking out the front of their beanie and ensure that their jeans were falling down just the right amount. Surely this was some sort of fancy dress party? People couldn’t possibly WANT to dress like this?

I wonder if I was that lame when I was that age? Sure, I can understand the desire to dress like famous music celebrities but when I was out on the town, we had it easy. If you wanted to dress like a music celebrity, you grew your hair long and never washed it, then put on a pair of torn jeans and a crappy t-shirt. Just like Curt Cobain, Pearl Jam or the Chilli Peppers did. Now it seems like it’s cool to dress like a cross between Harry Potter and Justin Beiber.

Sadly, there was one thing that has not changed. Spattered throughout the mix of the latest top 40, were songs from my era and even sadder was the fact that everyone still knew the words. My generation suffered through the Spice Girls & Hanson so that others wouldn’t have to. Yet the Lindsay Lohans and even the Harry Beibers were on the dance floor screaming the words to Wannabe at each other.

After one drink, I called it a night and went home in a state of shock. Has it really been that long since I’ve been out? Maybe torn jeans and a crappy t-shirt just doesn’t cut it anymore?

So this week, after being inspired by an advertisement for One Direction, I ventured out to purchase a pair of black jeans (I actually needed a pair for work). The lady at the jeans store brought me over a pair of ‘skinny’ jeans and perhaps it’s because of my muscular thick thighs, but they were harder to get on than my cycling kit and about 3 times more uncomfortable. How the hell do people walk, never mind, skateboard in a pair of those things??

So now I am the proud owner of some black jeans. The guys at work have told me that I need to start rolling up the legs to just above the ankles but I’m only going one step at a time. I’ve become everything I hate.

**On a side note... When Harry Beiber goes to get a haircut, what do they ask for?? ‘Give me a Justin Beiber or a tall guy from One Direction cut’?? Get a styled hair cut is on my list of things to do this year and I am thinking of going into the hair dresser and just asking for a ‘Ryan Gosling’. Is that how it works?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Melbourne Cycling

Last week I had to travel to Melbourne for work for 5 days. That much time off the bike usually results in me putting on about 6kg so I decided to take my bike with me. I was warned that it was going to be cold, but it couldn’t possibly be that bad.

I arrived mid-morning on Tuesday to a warm, sunny day with blue skies. The taxi driver noted that I had a bike with me and said that I was lucky to have missed that morning’s weather as it had dropped below 5 degrees, the coldest morning so far this year. Blinded by the warm sunshine, I fobbed off his comments, convinced that it couldn’t possibly be that cold.

When I arrived at work, three other people told me that it had been stupidly cold that morning so at 6:30pm, when I had to ride to my hotel, I put on all of my winter gear. Within 1km, I was sweating bullets, convinced that Melbourne cyclists were a bunch of whining cowards. At my hotel, I was blessed with a heater, which I left cranked up through the night. So much so, that I woke up in the middle of the night and had to remove a layer of blanket because it was too hot. Unfortunately, this also gave me a false sense of security of the outside temperature.

During the week, I had researched some Melbourne bunch rides and was surprised that there was a large number to choose from. Even in the cold, there was a number of morning bunch rides as well as evening rides that went up to distances of around 100km! I chose to do the North Rd Ride which had a group leaving at 5:45am. I put on all of my winter riding gear and walked outside with my bike to be slapped in the face by a 5 degree chill. I rolled down to the starting point positive that no one in their right mind would be riding in these conditions and thought to myself, if less than 5 people show up, I’m going back to bed.

I pulled up and there was already about 15 people there. This quickly grew to 20… 30… 40 people. By the time we picked up all the stragglers, there was about 60 people in the bunch, all keen to ride in the freezing cold. We headed down the Nepean Hwy in a dead straight line. After about 30km, half the bunch turned off to do the ‘shorter’ loop. I continued on to do the longer 70km-ish loop. We continued on in a dead straight line for about another 20km and I started to worry about how far we were going.

I asked around in the bunch, and apparently, they had decided to try a new route that was going to be about 110km in total! So now I was 50km away and was supposed to be at work in 1.5hrs! Although it was just past 7am, I still had all my lights on and was absolutely freezing. We turned off the highway and one of the riders in the bunch punctured. The whole group stopped for him to change it, and as we got going again, another person punctured and I decided that I could wait no longer.

I took off alone and calculated that I could still make it back in time. Fortunately, Melbourne is stupidly flat, so you can maintain a good speed over long distances. At 7.25am, it was finally light enough to turn my lights off, however, it didn’t help that I had no idea where I was going. I took a few wrong turns and made it to work about 15mins late after doing 120km.

So I now have a new respect for Melbourne cyclists. The fact that so many people get out to ride in such cold conditions astounds me. For the rest of the week, I didn’t do anymore early rides. Knowing how cold it was outside made it all too easy to sleep in.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cheaper alternatives

For those that love analysing data and measuring absolutely every aspect of a ride, there are a plethora of various devices that you can strap to your bike and later hook up to your computer to upload your ride.

It all started with the humble cycling computer that displayed your speed, distance and time. Then came the computers that included your cadence and even came in wireless options. Some models then started to record your heart rate and use this to estimate the number of calories that you burn while you exercise. Following this, computers that contained a barometer could record your altitude and give you a profile of your ride at the end. This then expanded into the realm of GPS to allow you to accurately record your ride and map it out for you afterwards. Now you can mount a full map and navigation system  to your bike so you never get lost.

More recently, I have noticed a large number of cyclists that have decided to mount video cameras to their bikes and record rides. I’m not sure if this is to catch out aggravated drivers that decide to cut a cyclist off or drive dangerously close, or if it is simply to capture footage of a ride and post it on YouTube for the world to see. Either way, it’s getting to the point where people need extensions on their handlebars to accommodate all of the gadgets they use... computers, heart rate monitors, video cameras, lights, higher powered lights with battery packs etc etc etc.

All of these gizmos don’t come cheaply either... $649 for a Garmin computer with Maps and heart rate. Then it’s another $400-600 for a video camera plus more for a memory card and software. Then it’s even more $$ for a protective case and bike mount!!! What really baffles me, is that most people carry a device with them that already does all of this plus more. Imagine if you already had a device that could map your rides, record your HR, cadence, speed, etc, give you directions, sync with a power meter, record video footage, play music for you AND you can make phone calls on it!!!

The humble iPhone is already able to do this, yet people spend a fortune on other devices to do the same thing! Garmin has just released an App called ‘Garmin Fit’ that records all of your time, distance and GPS fields.

For around $50, you can get the Garmin iPhone adapter. This little chip allows the iPhone to communicate with wireless ANT+ devices like HR monitors, cadence sensors and Power Meters.

The reason a lot people don’t like using an iPhone as a cycling computer is because it’s quite big and most mounts on the market are, well, butt ugly. Topeak has just released an iPhone mount called the ‘Ride Case’. It screws into the steerer tube top cap and even tilts up and down so that if you want to record video footage of your ride, you can. For only $50, it sure beats a $500 camera.

So for about $170 in total, you can get the software, adapter, HR monitor, cadence sensor and bike mount. If you were to get these devices separately, it would be over $1000!!!

Despite already having an iPhone and knowing about these cheaper alternatives... I still have a separate Garmin.

Friday, June 1, 2012

You know you have a problem if...

If you can tick off half of the following, then you have a problem. If you can tick off 3/4, then you should probably see someone about it. If you can tick off 90%, then we should go for a ride!!

You know you have a problem if...

Your Facebook profile picture is you riding a bike.

You refuse to fly Jetstar because they are not bike friendly.

Driving somewhere confuses you because you are used to taking the bike route.

Most of your laundry is taken up by cycling kit.

You have or have had in the past, a subscription to RIDE, Bicycling Australia or any other cycling magazine.

If a cyclist goes past you when out in public, you turn to see if you know them.

If your friends go for a ride and you sleep in, you are angry at them (and yourself).

You favourites bar has more than 5 cycling related websites in it.

You absolutely cannot stand walking anywhere!

Your partner refers to your bike as the 'Mistress', 'Other Woman' or 'Significant Other'.

You check cyclingnews more than twice per day.

Your bike costs more than your car.

You 'NEED' to upgrade your bike because SRAM 2012 just came out and and Dura Ace 9000 is coming.

You knew that Dura Ace 9000 series is coming.

You keep your 'good bike' inside the house.

Every room in your house has at least one piece of cycling related paraphenalia in it.

You live by the motto, 'Why stand when you can sit, why sit when you can lay down and why stay awake when you can go to sleep'!

You know who Phil Anderson, Miguel Indurain, Jacques Anquetil or Bernard Hinault are.

You have or plan at some time in the future to go to France to follow the Tour.

You have more than 3 sets of wheels.

You have a folder for cycling related Apps on your iPhone.

You wear cycling socks while you are at work.

Now be honest here... How many of the above statements apply to you? 10? 12? 15? More than 15??? Well, the saddest part is... ALL of the above statements where based on myself.