12 July, 2013

Stay Calm (and Write a Blog)

Yes I'm still breathing, eating and apparently able to string a series of words together in a somewhat comprehensible manner. Since my last post in 1822 March, I have:
Ridden my bike some (but not as much as I would have liked)
Run some (but probably not as much as I should)
Argued with some very stubborn people (and from their point of view, I'm probably a very stubborn person)
Lamented the loss of some friends
And of course all of the other things which happen by chance or design and make up the fabric of our lives. Not all of these will be visited in this single post- hopefully it will draw me back to reflect and write.

The riding was going swimmingly- getting in lots of good long rides and training sessions and a few races. A couple of crits, a time trial and a couple of road races with no spectacular results but no major disappointments either. My last race was a crit in early June- it was also one of the last times I was on the bike for several weeks. I had changed my wheels the day before to a set I bought a few years back but have not used all that much. On the usual Saturday ride, I heard a metallic creak when pedalling and put it down to noise from the spokes as the wheels had sat unused for so long.

I checked the spokes, there did seem to be a bit of play in a couple of them (none broken) and so tightened them a bit, of course to no avail. Raced on them the next day for the crit, Even had one of the racers who works at one of the local bike shops to have a look. Nah- nothing there. That afternoon I took small pieces of duct tape (gaffer tape here in Aus) and placed it between the lacing cross points of the spokes. Went for a ride and lo and behold- the noise was still there.

Jump ahead a couple days and I have the bike on the workstand for a thorough cleaning- stripped it down, chain off to be replaced, etc. Giving it a wash and notice some tar on the left seat stay- don't remember riding near any fresh roadworks or new paving- I'll just get the worst of it off with my thumbnail and then some methylated spirits and finish washing the bike.

The tar turned out to be something completely different- the seat stay was cracked almost all the way though and the strange sound I had been blaming on the spokes was the crack flexing under each pedal stroke. The bike has never been involved in any impacts on the road, during transport or at home so I was at a loss as to the cause.

The frame has a lifetime warranty for the original owner (that would be me) so I took some photos and headed to the local dealer with the frame to discuss the next steps. The LBS took more photos and sent them to the Specialized warranty office in Melbourne for evaluation. Several days later, after hearing nothing, I stopped by the shop to be advised that they had been unable to make a determination based on the photos and they would now like the frame sent as well.

So another week+ and still no word despite my dropping around and calls being made by the shop to Specialized. Finally I received a call to say they could not find any evidence of impact (I guess they need to do their own investigation and not just take the word of some numpty who might want a new frame) and would be supplying me with a new frame and that it was being shipped that afternoon.

Fast forward another week and I get a call that the new frame has been built up with the groupset from the old bike to the same measurements and is ready to go. It looked really nice when it was wheeled out but Dee immediately said that it didn't look right. And she was correct, they had put the headset spacers above the stem instead of below so it was back into the workshop for a quick adjustment (theoretically). Once the spacers had been correctly placed, all of the cabling was now too short and had to be replaced- this also meant the bar tape had to be unwrapped, etc. And the end result:

So I'm back on the road with the new beast but the joy is severely tempered by the loss of a member of the local cycling community and severe injuries to three others as the result of being struck by a truck carrying an oversize load. The riders were on their regular Saturday circuit and were riding single file and outside the traffic lane- there is no dedicated bike lane on that section and they had taken every measure to be out of traffic. The driver, for whatever reason, thought he could make it past but struck all four riders. Other members of their group who were some meters behind but witnessed the whole incident immediately performed first aid, including CPR, until emergency responders and police arrived on the scene.

Sadly, one of the riders was pronounced dead that afternoon and the other three were hospitalised for their injuries. A memorial ride is being held on Sunday for Sue- there will be many very heavy hearts.

10 March, 2013

An Experiment in Lent(il) Behaviour

The road racing season is back for 2013 here in the north and today, Sunday, marked the second in a series of crits for the local club. Numbers have been great across all grades with more than 100 riders registering across 4 grades in addition to the junior riders.

The left hand turning circuit is a 600 metre semi-rhomboid/elliptoid, flat road in a semi-industrial area as per the image below from Endomondo. What wind there was today was a greeting for all riders on the section heading into the last turn before the finishing straight on Dalrymple Road. The cross wind on the back segment was pretty much blocked out by the buildings lining the road.

I wandered from my usual Saturday evening pre-race meal routine (pasta in one form or another) and had lentil burgers and salad. They were delicious and filling but when I woke this morning, I was absolutely starving. A couple of Weet-Bix and my usual morning breakfast drink (no- not that kind of drink!!!) called Up-n-Go and I was out the door and on the way. During the ride to the circuit and the warm up I didn't feel all that energetic so I also had an energy gel a few minutes prior to the start.

Last week's average speed was just on 37km/hr for the 12 starters. This week it was 38.5 with 23 riders fronting. Like last week there were a few new starters which is always good to see- unlike last week when a young bloke who was giving it his first go and happened to grab a handful of front brake at an inopportune moment, there were no spills- even better to see.

So even though the pace was on a bit more than last week, I felt I had less in the tank on the last couple of laps. So it looks like it will be back to pasta for next week's crit; however, if there's no improvement, I'll know I will have to look at the engine the fuel is going into, not at the fuel. (Or maybe crit circuits just aren't my forte)

Cheers- ride safe

06 March, 2013

Rolling and Reflecting......

I have been thinking about this particular subject for almost three weeks now- it's an annual occurrence, the reflecting part that is, and has been since 1982. On 15 February of that year, 84 lives were lost when The Ocean Ranger went down in a storm off Newfoundland.

I was working on a rig at the time- The Rowan Juneau- off Sable Island and we had had a bit of a brush with the same weather system some hours before. I remember our radio operator's look of despair when no further chatter could be picked up from the Ranger and the supply ships reported that one of the "unsinkable" rigs had capsized.

And while it is, as I said earlier, an annual period of reflection, this year that reflection has lingered- triggered I suppose by items in the news from both here and from back in Nova Scotia:

A fishing boat swamped in the waters off the coast in the southern part of Queensland- the skipper made it but his deckhand is lost, presumed drowned.

A friend posted a photo the other day of a coiled heaving line from The Bounty- one of the few items remaining from the replica built for the movie- the loss coming after the skipper set sail into hurricane conditions.

The sinking of The Miss Ally and the loss of all five aboard after sailing from Cape Sable Island on a halibut fishing trip.

And the announcement by Clive Palmer that he is building a replica of The Titanic- that most famous of unsinkable maritime vessels- and will be tracing the voyage of the original (hopefully with a much better outcome).

The local club road racing season has just started- a series of crits last weekend and the following two Sundays to kick things off. It was really good to see a number of new faces across most grades fronting up to race- it will be interesting to see if interest remains high when we get into the longer road races.

Cheers- ride safe