Friday, 11 July 2014

They were probably moths as opposed to butterflies

It's funny whilst there are / were a number of things about my forthcoming trip to South America which was causing butterflies, a good friend of mine - Robert - recently reminded me just how fortuitous I was, to be able to undertake this endeavour.

As far as not having any pressing family or work commitments, having sufficiently good health as to enable me to take on such a strenuous activity and financially, in terms of it not putting me into debt or requiring me to work my fingers to the bone. 

In other words, its a once in a lifetime opportunity and to that end, there's no point owning a decent camera if you leave it at home. It'll be no use to you there, when your wandering around Machu Picchu, or in Antarctica should you end up going there at the conclusion of the ride. As a result, take it and use it along with the common sense that you've picked up during your travels. Further, take it easy on yourself if you end up being last into camp, jumping into the sag wagon or what have you - it is not a race.

Sunday, 6 July 2014


I'll be honest & admit that with just over a fortnight to go before I head to Quito, I'm starting to suffer from a few butterflies. Why, I hear you ask?

Well it's partly because I've not been able to ride the Troll or for that matter my road bike, for at least the last three weeks as a result of being interstate, not to mention the fact that I've been feeling unwell with the dreaded Man-Flu which probably would have kept me off the bike this last couple of weeks, irrespective of where I was.....

Of course, the other thing that's got me feeling a little apprehensive, is the "tourist" safety aspect. Whilst as many of you would know, I'm relatively well traveled, albeit primarily to first world destinations, I suppose I naively assumed that simply rocking up to a Quito a few days prior to the tour start would be straightforward and without any need for concern. That was all fine, till a few of you asked as to what safety precautions I was taking, which then prompted me to start doing a bit of research about the situation.

Now, I don't know whether the extent of pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, robbery, bag-slashing and hotel room theft is accurate or blown out of proportion, but either way it's got me feeling a little tetchy and oh so eager to catch up with some of my fellow riders, hopefully before the ride starts, so that I can not only get used to the altitude - It is at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,800 metres) above sea level - but also so as to do a bit of sightseeing. Whilst I'll probably post a comment in a couple of weeks that my fears were daft or that so long as one takes sensible precautions that thing's are particularly dangerous. At the moment however, who knows.... I just wish the butterflies would settle down!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Ten Reasons to Date a Cyclist

Being foot loose and fancy free, I gotta admit I had a bit of a laugh and thought you might also enjoy appreciate my sharing what are supposedly ten good reasons why you should date or  be glad that you married a cyclist:

1. Cyclists are hot, it's science. A recent study found that cyclists who excelled in the Tour de France are perceived as more attractive than other athletes and that the top 10% of cyclists “are about 25% more attractive than the lowest 10%” which means maybe fast is the new rich?

2. Cyclists are smart. According to a recent Mindlab survey, most people view cyclists as 13% more intelligent than the average person.

3. According to the same Mindlab survey, cyclists are generally viewed as 10% more charitable than non-cyclists.

4. Your date will be around for a while. Pro cyclists live, on average, 6.3 more years than non-cyclists. 
So long as we don't fall off coming down the Stelvio or get hit by a car.

5. After years of honing bike-maintenance skills, your date will be up for fixing things around the house, too.

6. No lazy bums here, just toned ones. Cyclists are disciplined, often rigorously so, and will withstand the elements to get their rides in.

7. Cyclists are constantly setting goals for themselves so if you want a forward-thinking date,  cyclists are a catch!

8. Cyclists have great near-death-experience stories to share, which is also why they’re also sticklers about safety.

9. Cyclists don’t call in sick. According to a 2013 survey by the National Cycle Network, cyclists take half the number of sick days as their public transportation-riding colleagues.

10. Think your date’s obsession with the open road is a little over-the-top? He / She is saner than you think. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise like cycling can boost concentration and memory while reducing stress and anxiety. The bike is good for the brain.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A bit of wet weather gear....

Having looked at the weather conditions we may encounter whilst in South America, I recently looked at updating my wardrobe which I felt gave rise to the need to add to my cycling attire. The result has been:
  • The purchase of a new jacket. Hopefully it will get me through the worst of conditions should the heavens open and the rain start tumbling down. Of course, it had to be red, so that I could rejoin Team Red (Annie & Nicki from La Bella Italia 2013) and so that I should stand out somewhat, in photographs....

  • The purchase of some rain repealing trousers.

  • The purchase of a headband / muffler, to keep out the worst of the chill / exhaust fumes.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Rolling with the Troll

Having been for a couple of rides now, I gotta say I'm finally getting accustomed to how he works & one thing has become evident. I'm going to get fitter when I'm in his company. It's just that little bit harder to get him moving, given that he's so much heavier than my usual stead. 

The other issue I'm still to contend with is improving his eye sight. He'd be reliant on a guide dog, were he to go out at night. A few lights will help him I'm sure, to say nothing of the fact that it will help make him stand out at night. In saying that, I'm not quite sure how or where I want to mount the forward facing lights, given that the handle bar bag hangs from & blocks the most obvious spot on which to mount a light. 

The big question is whether to compromise on the light's mounting position or when I use the bag.... In saying that of course, the need to use both the bag & light simultaneously whilst on my trip through the Andes isn't going to be all that high, so it's more of an issue for when I'm riding around Melbourne more than anything else. 

Finally and whilst I was just going to rough it, I suspect I'll be having a chat to Huw from Commuter Cycles about the concept of applying some very basic mudguards. The idea of wearing half the Andes Mountains, cause it's got a little wet, doesn't particularly appeal!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Troll goes for it's inaugural stroll......

The Troll and I went for a hit out along one of the bike paths in Melbourne today and I've got to say, it was a learning experience from the perspective of the weight and subsequent performance of the bike, the width of the handlebars, my position whilst in the saddle (it's a lot more upright) and the positioning and operation of the gear shifters, etc! 

The other thing that came out of today's ride was the realisation that I was going to either have to buy a second repair kit / set of tools or leave the stuff (perhaps alongside my helmet) so that I make sure that I carry the bits & pieces I need to keep me on the road / track irrespective of whichever bike I chose to ride on any given day. 

Sure I'll be fine when I head over to Quito, but in the interim and on a day to day basis, whilst I'm still training for the Andes Trail I have to be careful that I don't venture out without having the necessary repair kit. Irrespective of what I do in that regard though and before I head over to South America, I still need to buy a few bits of bike bling such as lights, a rear reflector, an appropriate pump and possibly a bell. 

I'll also need to set the Garmin up properly so that I can collect the same data, I rely on / use when I'm riding my roadie, but otherwise in terms of performance for a first ride, the Troll well and truly handled everything that I could throw at it!

Thank you Jen & Rod for your company today - It was most appreciated!

Friday, 30 May 2014


Thanks to the good folk at Commuter Cycles I've recently been introduced to and taken delivery of a Troll. 

Now whilst there was initially some conjecture on my part as to my bike's gender, I gotta say he's a bit of a brute! It's going to take me a few kilometres and a bit of time getting used to this whole concept of riding something a little heavier and more robust than my normal stead, a concept though that I am thoroughly looking forward to.... 

So, how was he put together:
  • Surly Troll 18" Frame
  • Fox F100 Air Suspension Front Fork  
  • Shimano Deore Front & Rear Derailleurs
  • Shimano Deore Cassette Nine Gear 11 - 34
  • Shimano Deore Chain Ring 42 / 32 / 24
  • Shimano XT Disc Brakes
  • Mavic EN521 Rims with DT Swiss Alpine III Spokes
  • Schwalbe Mondial Tyres

Whilst, there are more "over the counter" bits and pieces available, which might have made the bike a little cheaper to put together, Huw from Commuter Cycles and I put the Troll together on the basis of not only being able to easily maintain it, but also with the view that if spares were required, I could / should be able to wander into any bike shop enroute and pick up the necessary bits & pieces.

Basically, it's a long ride and through countries where I'm led to believe the bike shops aren't necessarily as up to date as shops found throughout Australia / Europe. A bit of an investment now, beats having to sit in the support truck cause I can't repair or replace something! 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Capturing the essence of the trip - Part 2

At this stage of the game and with the time prior to my departure fast approaching, I'm thinking that a video camera is a necessity. 

It's just the manner in which its mounted, with the concept of securing it to my handlebars being high on the agenda.... 

I mean there's also the question of what brand or type of camera to use, with the Go Pro Black Hero 3 having been at the top of my list of potentials, till that was, someone suggested I also take a look at the Garmin Virb Elite, which seems to have a few "bonus" features, including the ability to connect to Cadence/Speed Sensors, Temperature Sensors and Heart Rate Straps.

Decisions, decisions.....

Of course irrespective of what I do as far as collecting video footage along the way, I'll also be sure as to take my Canon PowerShot SX260 camera and Smart Phone with me again. Now remembering to stop, enjoy a beverage and to take photos more frequently, well we can only hope. Of course, if I put several days of blogs up without photos, you can always let me know...

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Black Knight acquires a Black Dog!

As much as I hate to have to acknowledge it, much less admit it in public, I have recently come to the realisation that my chances of consistently getting up and riding at sparrow fart for the time being at least, now that it's winter here in Melbourne are totally non-existent! 

It's hard enough when you've got some structure in your life, but when your out of work and battling with depression, as I am right now, it's nigh on impossible.... 

I suspect in saying that, whilst I'll probably join the Ashburton Riders Club and Maling Room Ride crew from time to time, given that their rides start just a tad closer to home, my chances of getting out with the Lead Out crew is somewhat unlikely..... 

It's a pity, as I have enjoyed riding (and undoubtedly will again in the future) riding with some of the guys & girls from Lead Out Cyclingthere's a really good vibe and the camaraderie is just absolutely brilliant. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Capturing the essence of the trip - Part 1

Whilst I took a number of different types of camera with me, when I went to Italy, I didn't use my Contour Roam 2+ video camera all that greatly and probably didn't stop often enough along the route to take photos with either my Canon PowerShot SX260 camera or Smart Phone, having seen the fantastic YouTube footage that one of my colleagues shot, I've got to be a little bit smarter about how I do things!

Having said that, I've got to say I'm somewhat reticent about the idea on using helmet mounted camera ..  and I say this for several reasons:
  • Because they are difficult to keep sufficiently upright as to show some of the road ahead;
  • Cause they can be a little time consuming to edit for the highlights; and
  • Worst of all (and I could be wrong) because they can potentially alter the manner in which an impact to a helmet is dealt with....
Now whilst I have don't have any conclusive prove and could quite wrongly be putting two and two together, I look at the fact that I had bleeding on the brain when I had my fall, albeit the bleed was not as serious as Michael Schumacher. 

Nonetheless I can't help but wonder whether my camera contributed to the fact I suffered the bleed in the first place or not....

As I say, I am very eager nonetheless to document this ride to the best of my ability, cause I'm tipping it is (and will be for a while to come) still a bit of a foreign concept for cyclists to be riding up, down and along the Andes Mountains. I also suspect it won't necessarily be an area I'll be returning to with a bike in the near future, whereas my chances of riding in Europe again are a little higher....

As a result I'm trying to determine how I wish to proceed..... Any suggestions?