Thursday, January 31, 2008

The trials and tribulations of a ride in the rain

Today we rode the Alleycat and cruiser combo home in the rain.
My little mate said no to a raincoat and proceeded to jump on our rig to ride home in the pouring rain. In the tropics that's no big deal. In fact it can be quite refreshing and fun... It was....

I shoved my work bag and camera into a garbage bag which fitted easily into the basket I recently installed on the front of the bike, then we set off for our ride in the rain. I was sure she'd decide it was too wet and demand her raincoat back on or worse still she'd refuse to ride. But no she just yelled "Yahooooooooooo" and peddled furiously behind me! Along the way we passed the Casuarina storm water drainage pipes where micro bats where darting around trying to find a safe place to hide after their home had been taken over by the torrent of recently delivered rain. We rode through big puddles and watched streams of rain disappear down amongst the exposed roots of trees that had fallen in the recent cyclone.
However by the time we arrived home I looked back over my shoulder to find a muddy, grit speckled urchin clinging to the bars of a grit pelted bike! There is definitely room for improvement to the design of our transport. The first thing I can see we will need is a full length mudguard.

It is strange but mudguards have ceased to be standard accessories on a bicycle. I remember when I was a kid we used to rip them off our bikes because they weren't very tough looking or cool. But these days I truly appreciate the benefit of a good mud guard. I reckon that whole negative attitude pre-teen hoodlums in the 70's must have rubbed off and manufacturers would, most likely, have only too gladly dispensed with the extra expense of providing decent rain gear on their bikes! Now you have to pay bucket's full of cash to get a decent set of guards. The cheapest ones I could find cost me about $20 and they're flimsy plastic (do the job ok though).

So my mission now is to make the cruiser-alleycat-bike thing rain tolerant! It was still fun riding in the rain though!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tagalong cycling

About two months ago I managed to find a replacement for my Raleigh mountain bike with the 54cm (Large) frame. This was my favorite second hand bike, it gave up the ghost last year with busted everything. I used it for everything from bush riding to carrying all kinds of loads like the shopping, transporting my child and carrying bike bits from the tip. It was fairly heavy but it rode beautifully and had just the right sized frame for me to be totally comfortable on it.

The old Raleigh loaded up for a picnic

So by chance I found another one almost identical but with better gears. So I bought it and have been riding it for the past couple of months. Until last night that is.

Old Raleigh and it's replacement

I was on my way home after visiting family when I thought I felt the rear tire give way! I stopped to check it out and found it hard as a rock! Then I gave the wheel a wobble to see if I'd forgotten to tighten the axle nuts. They were tight as they should be but the whole rear wheel slid from side to side along the axle!
I have no idea what caused this and haven't had a chance to investigate but it meant I had to leave the bike at home today and resort to riding my cruiser!

The dodgy wheel

Front wheel in motion
(My first attempt at an animated gif)

The cruiser is set up with an Alleycat tagalong rider thingy for a kid to ride. Ideally I was going to wait until my child was a bit older but crunch time had arrived. I had no other options (that appealed to me as much).

So we hit the road on our Beach-Alleycat-cruiser mobile and had a ball! We have to take it easy until my little mate is used to the ride but I doubt it will take long. This is a fun bike to ride!

parked bike
Cruiser and lil Alleycat

Friday, January 25, 2008

70 years anniversary of Day of Mourning - Conference

This Saturday the 26th January (Australia day/Invasion day) will be the 70th anniversary of the Aboriginal Conference, a Civil Rights gathering to mark Australia Day as a day of mourning for Aboriginal people.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Library has created an online exhibit to mark the occasion. It is well worth visiting if you'd like to know more about the the efforts made to bring equality to our country.
Before we get all caught up in how great it is to be an Australian or how wonderful our country is; we should remember that without the efforts of those who challenged the status quo and fought against a fundamentally racist state we might still be little more than an ex-prison colony.

Day of mourning and protest

What does Australia Day mean to me? How will I spend my time on our national day? What will I remember, celebrate or mourn? Who made this country, who is making it? What is Australian?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

No more Bulletin No more Newsweek

No more Bulletin, No more Newsweek,
Now we got wiki/blogs and no acountability.
No more reading what the Editor briefs,
Now we RSS our favorite feeds.
And so on and so forth.... (apologies Oodgeroo Noonuccal)

Apparently nobody wants to read current affairs magazines any more.
According to News.Com:

"AUSTRALIA'S oldest and best-known weekly news magazine, The Bulletin, has been published for the last time."

Read more at below:,23599,23100943-2,00.html?from=public_js

Not that I was a big reader of The Bulletin with Newsweek but it does make me wonder about the quality of News we will be receiving in another 10 or 15 years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why we can't be trusted to honour the customs of others

Just thought I'd post this to prompt some paternal self analysis.

Looking for alternative transport

My idea to own a bicycle rickshaw/becak/pedicab (or whatever else you may know them as) continues! I recently contacted a guy in Melbourne regarding a Christiania bike. They are quite expensive but offer a practical transport alternative that I may be able to rig up to take a baby capsule....

The bike situation at home is becoming a little out of hand (my wife tells me).
Just when I thought I'd managed to re-home another of my salvaged bikes another great deal came my way.
The other day as I was riding to the blood bank I happened across an old Dunlop mountain bike thrown on top of a bunch of other junk headed for the tip. As I peddled back to work I couldn't resist the temptation to grab it and pushed it back to work.

It was filthy and the tires had completely perished but it had all the basic components and the wheels turned without a buckle. Over the past week whenever I've had a spare moment from my domestic new Dad duties I've gone out and done a little work to get the bike back into order.

So far I've cleaned and re-packed the centre bracket and front wheel with grease, replaced the tires and tubes, cleaned the grime off as much as I could then cut and polished the frame, ground all the rust out of the rear rim and oiled the surface to prevent further rusting and I've oiled the chain. I ran out of time so didn't bother re-packing the rear wheel but it seems to work fine for now.

Dried bearings, rusted rims and tires perished

The Dunlop beside another bike I recently passed on to a workmate

After I cleaned her up, ground the rust out of the rims and gave some grease, new tires and tubes this little bike turned out to be a great ride! the wide rims give heaps of stability so I think my friend, who hasn't ridden for a while, will feel very comfortable on this little mule.
I really like the one piece cranks! They are so easy to fix! Although they are a sure sign of a cheep bike they are also very practical and reliable! The newer 'very cheep bikes' have more elaborate crank systems which invariably fail and are much harder to replace or repair!
(Oops I forgot to oil the chain!)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cyclone Helen

There was a cyclone in the Top end of the Norther Territory last night. It was called Helen. It reached category 2 and we received some rough weather, gails and rain.

down trees
Shallow roots, rain and wind = fallen down trees

Fallen tree
Damaged fence

Swimmers enjoying an unusual swell
Swimmers enjoying some wave action

surfing at Nightcliff
A rare chance to surf

Choppy weather
Ooh look "Waves poonding on Rocks!" (Apologies to Billy Connolly)