Tag Archives: Commuting

Blue skies, lightning and fast food

Riding to work

Riding to work

Blue skies! Hooray! I jump out of bed, load up the Purple Monster and set off down the road to work. Well, sure, I actually didn’t just go from jumping out of bed to leaving for work. There was a period in between during which I pottered around making breakfast and watching some television. But, that just doesn’t sound as good as saying that I jumped out of bed and hit the road.

Waiting for the lights

Waiting for the lights

I have recently discovered the joys of Instagram and have been going crazy trying out all the different photo formats. What I really like about the app is that it’s making me see simple things in a whole new light. For example, who would have thought that avoiding a dangerous roundabout by crossing the road on a bike path would have been interesting. But with Instagram I was able to see the process for the uniquely cycling experience that it is. And check out all those bright colours that make up our every day world – you don’t have to travel thousands of miles from home to be bedazzled.

The wheels keep spinning

The wheels keep spinning

I had a university class last night so was able to enjoy the late afternoon daylight hours on my bike. Usually, I don’t leave work until about 5:30pm, which means I do a lot of my commuting in the dark from March through to November. But yesterday I had an excuse to leave just around 3:30pm to enjoy a leisurely cruise up the V1 cycleway to my university campus. Sure, I had to ride about 10km of the 21km ride on roads but I prefer to focus on the cycleway experience. I just love how it feels to see and feel my wheels spinning away on paths designed specifically for us cyclists.

Riding to university

Riding to university

Did I mention yet that I finally bought myself a new jersey? You might have noticed that I’m always wearing the same jersey in all my photos. I actually have two that are the same. I now have a third jersey that I picked up for the bargain basement price of $15 (yes, that’s not a typo) because it was slightly soiled (it has a small blue dot on the back). And boy is it comfortable. Perhaps that’s why I had a big smile on my face in this selfie.

Lights reflecting on wet bikeway

Lights reflecting on wet bikeway

As my university class came to an end, around 7:30pm, I looked out the window to see flashes of lightning followed by crashes of thunder. It was all being washed down by big heavy rain drops. In the past, I would have simply phoned home and grovelled to my partner for a lift home. But, as they say, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing choices. I had come prepared so pulled my rain jacket out of my pannier bags, threw a reflective vest over the top and set off to ride 35km (20 miles) in the deluge. Since starting Audax cycling, I have become quite accepting of night riding so it was with great pleasure that I spun my legs as the heavens put on an amazing display of lightning streaks and forks.

What? I was hungry

What? I was hungry

Hunger took over at 8:30pm when I still had 20km to ride. So I found a Hungry Jacks (Burger King to the rest of the world) and bought junior Whopper and small fries to get me through. I hadn’t eaten a meal since 1pm so fast food never tasted so good.

Total: 66.6km cycle commuting


Life can end at any time – make the most of now

Prayers for Boston

Like many others, I woke this morning to news of the bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon. As a runner and sportsman, my thoughts today are with all those who have been affected by the cowardly attack.

What do tragedies like this mean for those of us not personally affected? What can we do to honour those who lost their lives today? Here’s my personal list:

  • never let the last thing you said to anyone you love be a harsh word
  • tell your family you love them
  • when you pray for Boston, remember to say a prayer of gratitude that you and yours saw the dawn today
  • and, most importantly … LIVE life like the gift it is.

We can never have those we lost back. But we can honour their memories by being true to ourselves and living our lives. When we get up in the morning, let’s remember to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. If today is my last day, what do I want to be doing?
  2. If today is my last day, what do I want to be remembered for saying?
  3. What one positive action can I take today to make tomorrow better for me, my family and my world?

Our answers don’t have to be big. For me, this morning, after I heard the news of Boston, this is what my answers were:

  1. I want to ride my bicycle. So I rode my bicycle to work and stopped to take a photo along the way, despite it making me arrive at work late.
  2. I want to be remembered for saying something positive. So I am going to watch my words today.
  3. My positive action is to tell my partner I love her, to perform my job to the best of my ability and to be happy because happiness is infectious.
The photo I took on my commute to work

The photo I took on my commute to work

No mileage counter today because the miles don’t seem important today. Today is about honouring those we pray for in Boston.

Riding the roadie

Riding the roadie by Andrew Gills
Riding the roadie, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I had to travel about 15km to a doctor appointment this morning. I didn’t even have to think about how I’d get there: by bicycle.

I’ve been following the 30daysofbiking social media feed. It’s been inspiring and reminding me that cycling is all about fun, not training. So, instead of burning money on fuel and getting fat by riding my motorbike, I burned fat and saved money by riding my roadie to my appointment.

After riding the Purple Monster yesterday, my roadie felt so light and speedy this morning. It was fab. And yes, I did use my full complement of gears this morning 🙂

Total: 26.6km road cycle.

Rest of today’s commute

After my commute this morning, I left work in the mid-afternoon to cycle to my university class. Then, after my class, I cycled home tonight, ending my day at about 8:30pm when I arrived home. Along the way I stopped at 99 Bikes and got a set of clipless pedals put on my bike, which made the riding a lot more comfortable.

The experience of my ride today was glorious. I kept the bike in just one gear for the whole ride and found it liberating. Not ‘gee what a fast ride’ or ‘wow suspension and 29″ wheels are brilliant’ liberating. But liberating in a ‘this is so simply’ way. Even my cycle computer only measures speed, distance, odometer and time of day; it doesn’t even measure average speed or ride duration.

The only problem with the Purple Monster is that my front forks are quite bent (the left fork is sitting about 1cm or 0.4″ in front of the right fork at the axle). I think this is what caused the wheel I had on the bike to blow out its bearings. I have a spare wheel on the bike at the moment but think I will need to replace the forks if I want to prevent further damage to this wheel. I’m going to call Bicycle Revolution tomorrow to see how much it will cost for them to put a recycled fork on the bike (Bicycle Revolution is a bicycle recycling shop in Brisbane’s West End who have thousands of old bikes all over their property) so hopefully I can get it replaced cheap.

I realised tonight on my way home that I miss the simplicity of using a pushbike for transport. It wouldn’t replace road or mountain biking for me. But I think it will be a fantastic complement to reintroduce it to my life. Especially now that I can set up a dedicated commuter.

Total: 53.88km cycle

Death of my front derailleur


The dead front derailleur

I was excited to cycle to work this morning because I have a new set of wheels on my road bike. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My front derailleur seems to have died a sudden and mysterious death. It won’t shift at all anymore. When I disconnected the derailleur cable the shifter seemed to be working so I believe the problem must be in the derailleur itself.

I suspect there is a bolt that has come off the side of the derailleur because there is a hole with threading inside it that is currently empty. I don’t know whether or not there ever was a bolt in there because I’ve never checked. But at this early stage of ‘investigations’ I’m fairly sure it’s worked loose somehow.

I am running an 8-speed rear cassette and derailleur with a Shimano HG-50 chain. I’m not keen on replacing the whole drive train yet because that would be expensive. I also currently have a triple chain ring and front shifter on my bike. I can’t find any suitable components online because the Shimano Sora series is now only available in 9-speed and 10-speed, while the only 8-speed triple derailleurs are all designed for flat-bar bike gearing systems.

I guess in this instance I am off to the bicycle shop to find out what my options are. I wouldn’t mind switching to a double chain ring on the front but am concerned the shifter might be expensive to replace. At least this gives me an excuse to replace the bottom bracket and crankset because my smallest chainring is rubbing against the frame protector and the whole crankset is sitting at an awkward (non-parallel) angle to the bike.

Given that I couldn’t cycle to work this morning, I might try another walk/run this evening.

Overkill for commuting?

Perhaps this wheel is overkill for commuting?

Perhaps this wheel is overkill for commuting?

Whenever I see people cycling through the city and suburbs on their race wheels, all I can think is ‘What a w**k**r’. I know it’s harsh but it seems a bit pretentious to me to be riding around the city on carbon fiber deep rims or, worse, full discs. However, this morning I had to become one of those riders … and I felt a little embarrassed about it. I felt very strongly that riding to work with a Zipp 530 on my bike was a bit overkill.

Do you see the problem?

Do you see the problem?

Unfortunately, I had no choice. Last night I was almost home when I heard a big ‘bang’ from the back of my bike. I didn’t know what it was, initially suspecting the bottom bracket had finally packed it in. On closer inspection (I was actually cleaning my bicycle) I discovered a broken spoke. After much swearing I grabbed my trusty laptop and researched options for replacement / repair.

I concluded that it was probably more economical for me to replace my wheel set than to get the spoke replaced. Why? The wheelset on my bike is the original 1996 wheelset that has not had any maintenance so I anticipate that more spokes will pop. And a full new Shimano 501 wheelset only cost me $137, which is relatively cheap compared to the price of repairing one (or more) broken spokes.

So that’s how I ended up cycling to work this morning on a wheel that is certainly overkill for commuting. And why I can’t wait until later today or tomorrow when my new wheelset should arrive.

Total: 12.9km cycle commute each way to and from work.

Scene from Monday’s cycle commute

We have a local flower farm

We have a local flower farm

I cheated on Monday morning by accepting a lift to work with my partner. She was heading into ‘town’ to use the gym so we packed my bicycle in her car and I arrived at work unaffected by sweat. My excuse is that I was tired from the long day out in the weather on Sunday.

I did still ride home though and it was lovely.

Total: 12.9km cycle home