Saturday, 21 January 2017

Moscow Circus 2017

So we last tok the kids to the circus in 2015 (Euro Circus).

It was kind of expensive, but also kind of fun and I enjoyed it.

This year ... not so much.

We decided at the last minute to take Zara and one of her friends to the Moscow Circus, and maybe they're just a bit older, or maybe I'm just a bit harder to impress, but the whole performance just didn't click with me at all this year especially with the number of errors and mistakes made throughout the performance.

So it's official ... I'm finally too old for the circus.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Cadbury Marathon 2017

I'd planned on getting a bit of a ride in today on the Scott 710 Plus bike while Kim ran her marathon (to test the bike out on roads and gravel trails).

But then I slept in a bit and so got there after Kim had already run two thirds of the distance which left me a bit time-constrained in my ride options.

After paying $5 for parking (rip off!) near Cadbury's, I then started cycling towards the Derwent Entertainment Centre figuring I'd pass Kim one way or the other.

I had in fact only got a few kilometres down the road when I got a message from Kim saying "Dying - bring coke" or something to that effect, so I duly detoured into Glenorchy to find a service station to buy a can of coke and deliver it to her.

How's that for a support crew upgrade.  I'm getting better each year.

Anyways - after her coke recharge, Kim cruised over the finish line to chalk up her first full Cadbury Marathon.

Next stop - Gone Nuts 101.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Scott 710 Plus Bike Demo Ride

So, as you might imagine after the demise of my Giant Trance (See previous post), I had steered the conversation with the Cyclops crew towards what bike I might buy next, and one of the suggestions was the Scott Spark 710 Plus.

And after reviewing it online I found that it had quite an interesting set up that might well match my riding style and so I headed into AvantiPlus in Sandy Bay to see if they had one in stock.

Turned out they not only had one in stock - they had a demo bike I could take for a spin for a few days.

Can you imagine the smile on my face when I figured out that Damian wasn't just pulling my leg, and I could actually take the bike out for a few days to trial it out ... it looked like this:


(Note that smile is a re-creation - it is not my actual smile).

As soon as I got it home, I got changed and took off for a ride up Wallaby Track.

I quickly developed a love - hate relationship with this bike.

I loved the way that the combination of wide-tyres and suspension provided such a forgiving and comfortable ride (except for the seat - but that could be changed).

It just glided over rocks and logs and roots like they weren't there.  

I also loved the lock-out mechanism on the suspension.  I know that this is probably just technology progressing from my now three year old bike to what is standard today, but still - handlebar based suspension is cool - except for all the cables.

I also loved how it went downhill.

While 'supporting' Kim on her Cadbury Marathon run on Sunday I dropped the bike over a small embankment that normally I would class as an at-the-edge-of-my-comfort-zone sphincter clenching experience.

On this bike with its big tyres and forward jutting front wheel - everything just felt easy, smooth and in control.

But, unfortunately,  it also had some issues which I couldn't overlook.

Firstly the cranks and pedals seemed set way too low for me - to the extent that the pedal was regularly striking the ground on the uphill side of the track when I was riding along the hill face, and it was also a real pain in rock gardens.

I also found the handlebars a bit too wide for my liking (specifically there are a few tight pinches on the Wallaby track track between trees which I can slip through on the Trance and even on my Trek Evo 8 ... but which I couldn't make it through with the Scott).

Again, handlebars are replaceable, but when we're now talking seat, handlebars and cranks ... it's starting to become a lot of changes to a new bike.  

And finally, I just found the turning ability a little bit too slow for the many technical and sharp twists and turns that Wallaby threw at me, resulting in my overshooting the track on several occasions.

So ... I kind of loved the bike, in fact I almost convinced myself that everything I didn't like (except for those low pedals and wide turning circle) are not enough to stop me buying it ...

But then I also realised that there are an awful lot of other bikes out there that I haven't even looked at yet, so I reluctantly returned the bike to AvantiPlus while I scout out other possibilities ...

So that's the question: what should I look at next?

Friday, 6 January 2017

The Curse of the Blue Tier

There's a point where most people would just realise that the world is trying to tell them that they are cursed and that they should give up.

Me, I miss a lot of those messages, and so I just keep going. 

This is, I must admit, is actually a deliberate thing.

You see, many years ago, when I was cycle touring across Europe with she who shan't be named, we hit a bit of a low point after she crashed and hurt her leg and then between the differences in opinion over what to do next, injury, the rain, the midges, and a couple of months of being in each others pockets ... well we both got a bit narky with each other.

So we argued a bit, and it all seemed terrible, but in the end ... it made for a good story, and it is that philosophy that has embedded itself in my mind every since - everything that happens is either a lot of fun at the time ... or it makes a good story afterwards ... and as a blogger a good story is a good thing and a bad story is an even better story ... so win win no matter what happens.

So, coming back to the present, this weekend I did something completely out of character - I asked if I could join the cyclops crew on one of their weekends away mountain biking at Derby.

Yep, I actually asked to go cycling with other people.

This is not normal behaviour for two very obvious reasons:  (1) I don't mix well with people and (2) even their slowest rider (if he had a broken leg, and was chained to a large rock) is twice as fast as me ... which doesn't set the groundwork for a successful week end away. 

But still I asked, and they were cool with that, so I got picked up in Launceston and we headed off to Derby.

Which is where the Curse of the Blue Derby came back to hit me full force.

Day 1 (Friday) we arrived around lunch, got the camp site set up at Branxholm and then headed over to Derby for an afternoon of shuttling to the Black Stump trail head.

Things were looking great at this point as we had the offer from VertigoMTB of an 'early' start so they could run two group shuttles up to the black stump.

Because of our early start, we got to the top of the first run 45 minutes ahead of schedule, unloaded the bikes ... the same bike that I had been riding around Derby not 15 minutes before with no problems, and my seat dropper post had dropped and nothing I could do would get it to lift back up again.

It was like riding a BMX with my knees up around my head.

Unfortunately, before I had time to get up the courage to ask if anyone in my group had any ideas on what I might do,  they were already heading off down Upper Flickety Sticks ... so I headed off after them (although I only got to see them if they stopped or broke down).

So that was my afternoon - we did four shuttles and rode Flickety Sticks twice, Return to Sender once and Shearpin and Twenty Three Stitches (both of which were a lot easier than I expected, albeit I did them at low speed) once.

It was fun, but even if I had had a functioning seat post I would have struggled to keep on the other guys tails.  As it was, they had dropped me within the first 100 metres and I was riding alone for the rest of the trail.


I also discovered that night that I had managed to break the strap on my brand new shimano shoes sometime during the day.

So they lasted for two days riding.

Do you see now why I'm starting to think that my riding at Blue Derby is cursed?

Day 2 (Saturday) was the big day - Blue Tier and Atlas and I was nervous.

I'd lifted my seat up to the maximum allowable height the night before (which was still about 2 inches lower than I'd like) and set off with trepidation for what the day had in store.

After a brief detour up to the top of the hill for some photos ...

We set off ... which is code for the Cyclops crew rode off into the distance while I rode along behind in my own time figuring that at some point (probably the Weldborough Pub) we might join back up again ... but turns out that they did some video shooting and waited for me at a few spots so I wasn't alone for the whole ride.

One thing I can say ... riding the Blue Tier is a whole lot more fun than walking it.

Due to my slow travel time, we skipped the Little Chook loop and went straight to lunch at the Weldborough Pub.  

I have to admit that as each of us forked out our $30 for a burger and a drink (well worth it) and I looked around at all the other packed tables with different groups of cyclists happily chatting away, I had to agree that maybe this whole mountain bike tourism thing has legs.

Then we started getting ready for the ride up to the top of Atlas.

A ride I was really not looking forward to.

While a few others in the group lubed up their chains, and checked their tyre pressure,  I cycled around the front of the pub and noticed both the VertigoMTB andd Bus2Berms shuttles parked there ... and I asked the first guy (who happened to be the Bus2Berms guy) if they were heading to the top of Atlas.

They were, and for $10 I could chuck my bike on board.

Three point two seconds later, my bike was on board and I had a huge smile on my dial.

The others in my group decided to ride up, and I figured they'd catch me on the way down.

Despite the ominous warnings I'd heard about Atlas I actually found it much drier, faster and easier to ride than the last time I'd been through - even with a dodgy seat post.

I took a couple of long breaks on the way down.  One at the lookout over Dam Busters and again at the main junction/creek where all the trails meet (Dam Busters descent by the way has really been ridden out badly) waiting for the Cyclops group to catch up, but they didn't so I kept on going down Relics, across the river and then just after I joined the Krushka loop and crossed the road into the new section of trail I heard this almighty crack and my bike just dropped out under me as my butt dropped down onto the back wheel (ruining my knicks).

Fortunately I came to a quick stop and as I picked myself up and wondered what the heck had just happened, I saw the the curse had hit again ...

The pivots in the frame had just snapped.

Just as I picked myself up and began walking back to Derby - the cyclops crew came sweeping past.

At least I had a decent excuse for being caught :).

It was a longish walk back to Derby, but lots of nice cyclists stopped to have a laugh at my expense (all in good humour of course).

And that was my weekend done.

While most of the cyclops crew headed up for another few runs on Sunday, I managed to grab an early lift back down to Hobart with Michael who had to get down south for a Twenty20 game.

I even found out that Zeps at Campbell Town apparently made the best sausage rolls in the State and so was looking forward to trying one on our way through.

They of course only had one left, which I let Michael have.

Such is the curse of the Blue Tier.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

S-1 and the rats

So two very scary things have happened recently ...

The first, and perhaps most terrifying, is that I was happily sitting on the couch the other day navigating my way around and (at the particular moment of terror) I happened to be using brompton's bike builder to see how much it costs to build a custom six speed brompton (for no particular reason) when Kim walked past, glanced at my screen, and said "You're not buying a new bike".

Let me just write those chilling words again:

"You're not buying a new bike."

She didn't say the more subtle "Do you need another bike?"  or even the set up for a fall question: "Looking at a new bike?".

Nope, she went straight to "You're not buying a new bike".

That is the invocation of the lesser known S-1 component of rule 12 of the Velominati, ie.

Rule #12// The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
"While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner."
I never thought I'd hit S-1, and I especially never thought I'd hit S-1 looking at a brompton.

To be honest, I thought that was it, the end, no reason to go on, but then the second scary thing happened.

Long term readers may recall the story of Boo and Kim's ability to make new animals appear in our household whenever I blink.

Well, for a year and two weeks I managed to resist the flood of new animals entering our abode:  I drank my red bull, I never shut my eyes, and we remained new pet free.

Then, just after Xmas, Zara came home from a sleepover and she started talking about her friends rats.

Rats for god sake.

She wanted these rats so badly, and they were so cute, and she would look after them, and play with them for an hour every day, and they would be in her room, and she would feed them and clean their cage .... and I'll stop there because we've all heard this story or said those words ourselves when we wanted a new animal as a child.

So, I said no, not happening, no way, end of discussion.

Then Kim started talking about how much she had wanted a Gerbil when she was Zara's age ...

You already know where this is going don't you ...

Kim and Zara went and got "Bubble" and "Squeak" (and god only knows how many hundreds of dollar of rat gear) the next day ...

So now we have rats.

Which got me thinking - by my count we now had two kids, two dogs, one cat, three chooks and two rats.  The number of animals in our household is eleven (N=11).

By my count I only own about 10 bikes (N=10).

Surely, I mean almost certainly, any reasonable person would agree that the number of animals in a house should never exceed the number of bikes owned by one person (important caveat as Kim and the kids also have bikes)?

I mean yes, you'd agree, wouldn't you?

ipso facto - I need a new bike ...  or two - so let's get back to this brompton.