commuting


After the previous dilemma about worn wheels I resurrected a pair from a while ago. Last Friday I noticed that the back wheel was out of true. Not too badly, but enough to rub on the brakes unevenly. So I visited the local bike shop to get it trued whilst I was at work.

A little later I got a call to say that the wheel had failed, badly. As the mechanic was taking the tyre off the rim split around about one third of its circumference.

Bother said Pooh.

So now I have a shiny new Mavic Open Pro rim laced to the old hub with the old spokes. With a new tyre and brake blocks all round it came to a shade over AU$200. It creaked and pinged for the first 20 km, but has settled well now. The next decision is how long I dare to leave the front wheel before it too fails - perhaps whilst I am riding. I think that I shall be getting a similar rim ordered for the front rim ASAP, and the wheel built soon after.

Sadly I don’t have a picture of the rim. My mobile phone makes phone calls, and my camera doesn’t accompany me on the commute.

If I manage to ride home tonight (.995 certain) then my odometer will go round the clock. 10000 km since I got to Australia… and all on suburban roads. Most of that is commuting as the kids are not yet up to long (20km+) rides yet.

This joy is tempered by finding some interesting pictures of Rolf Vector wheel failures. I’ll check mine tonight as I clean the chain. I put the Rolfs on when I changed the odometer from miles to km, and they have been wonderful for me so far.

Someone must like my family. Yesterday my wife towed Inga from childcare to the garage (to pick up the car) in our wonderful Papoose Caboose. Then she towed Inga from Joshua’s school home whilst Joshua rode his bike.

When she came to put the trailer away, she found that one of the axle pins (the little thing that holds the wheel on) was missing. But where could it be? Not in the car (garage -> school); nor in our driveway…

A phone call this morning located the offending article at Inga’s childcare, about 8km of riding before its loss was noted.

Oh well, no-one was hurt. We’ll be looking for a secondary security mechanism for these pins before we next take Inga out in it!

So Tuesday this week was hot. 40 degrees Celsius hot. And I decided to ride home - all 20 km - with two bottles of water to help me. There was a gentle breeze as I started out, but that died out soon. Not to worry, I was riding by the side of the Yarra river; surely that would provide a bit of cooling. Wrong! It just wafted a brakish smell over the trail, which was better than the rotten stench under the freeway.

Anyway, all was well enough (with a bottle top up at Kooyong) until I got to Huntingdale road. This is only five minutes from home on a normal day, but by then the heat had got to me. Puring water from a bottle over my head didn’t help much as it was warmer than body temperature. The final km home was rotten.

That evening the temperature dipped to around 28 Celsius - and only got warmer during breakfast. In the evening I rode home again feeling very cold - it was 19 C - and looking forward to a warm shower. Unfortunately the kids are not back in school yet (term 1 starts on 31 January) and I encountered two of them on the bike path. One had stopped and the other was still going but slowing. He decided to stop as I called out “passing”…

What should one do when being passed by another bike? Maybe keep going and move left? (We’re in Australia.) Or stop and move left? Either would do. But no, this kid decided to stop, hop off and move his bike into the middle of the path (to turn around, one presumes). All of this at the entrance to a bridge that the path takes over a creek. (This is the *only* direction that the path takes - one has to turn.) It shows up on google maps quite nicely (use the satellite view).

The end result was that I ran into the bike (at low speed) and went over the bars. According to my mate it was quite good, and worthy of a video, but sadly there wasn’t one available. No-one was hurt, and my mate reminded the kids of their obligations when riding on public paths.
Hopefully there will not be a next time.
For those interested, there’s a fair graph of the Melbourne and Sydney temperatures here. It uses data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, so is vaguely accurate.

And I almost forgot to mention that this was the day that most of Victoria experienced power outages, so many traffic lights were out, and the restaurant that we went to only managed to serve us because they cook on gas ;)

It’s been 35ºC today in Melbourne, and it is still weeks until summer begins. I chose to ride to work despite knowing it would be hot comming home. Two water bottles later and I managed to stay hydrated. There have, however, been a few people keeling over with the heat.

The kids and Morwenna went swimming to avoid the oppression. Apparently there were too many kids on the water slide for Joshua to enjoy it; he only went down once… Inga loved jumping in to the deep outside pool but would not do somersaults on Morwenna’s back like Joshua did yesterday. (He is currently learning the ‘tuck’ position at gymnastics, which he practices at the pool when jumping in.)
For those interested in the numbers, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast is here. Monash University has a live page here. There are also other funky weather pages, but mostly they indicate global warming, which is too contentious to mention in the West.

For the past three work days I’ve been riding in. It’s a 22km trip, which takes me about 55 minutes. As I get fitter I hope to bring this down slightly. However, it’s the bike paths and darkness that are my greatest enemy at the moment. I just need to leave work earlier!

Joined Bicycle Victoria, which covers me for liability to others on the commute. Worth every cent of the fee.