Light ’em up

On Wednesday I rode my bike into the office for the first time in weeks. With there being lots of 3- and 4-day weekends recently I haven’t gotten as much mileage out of the iron steed as I would have liked. I can’t ride Tuesday or Thursday because of jiu jitsu training, and with Monday or Friday out because of the long weekends it meant that weeks went past without me spinning the wheels. But yesterday that changed and it was a bit dangerous.

Maggie collected me from the office and we went up to Osborne Park to wrangle a refund from the world’s worst shoe manufacturers. She’d been messed around for weeks, felt intimidated by the guys running the store and the shoes still didn’t fit. I was called in to provide the muscle, but as it turns out I wasn’t needed. Anyway, by the time she dropped me back at the office and I collected my things it was dusk and the light was fading.

Thankfully I take bicycle paths for about 90% of the journey, but coming up Albany Hwy without lights was a bit scary, so this morning I went past my local, excellent bike store and picked up some illuminating gadgets.

Planet Bike Beamer 5Smart 7 LED

I bought a Planet Bike Beamer 5 for the front of the bike and a Smart 7 LED for the rear, which according to Bicycle Victoria appears to be the best around. The white light has a flashing mode as well as a strong, solid beam. The rear light has several modes including always on, flashing and an interesting up-down chaser option which provides 320° of visibility. I want to be visible.

I also bought two spare inner tubes. I have the intention of replacing the rear tube over the weekend, if I get a chance, because I suspect I’ll end up busting it with my pump the same way I did the front.

P.S. Do you like my dodgy Pixelmator transparency skillz?

Pit stop

For the first time in my life I changed a bicycle tyre’s inner tube. I used YouTube to help me out but got there in the end. Here’s what I did:

  • Deflate the tyre.
  • User tyre levers to pop off only the near side of the tyre. Keep the far side of the tyre wall inside the rim.
  • Remove the inner tube completely, taking care around the valve.
  • Partly inflate the new tube – one or two pumps is all it takes. You don’t want it too fat to fit inside the rim, but just plump enough to hold its shape.
  • Insert the new tube’s valve into the tyre.
  • Working your way around the inner of the rim, replace the tyre. You might need tyre levers to replace the final section.

The tyre levers I have are made of plastic, and whilst they did the job I think they’re a bit too wide and they don’t have a hook/clip so I can’t insert them and attach them to the spokes, which would be a smart addition. I’ll buy some metal ones, because metal tools are much more manly than plastic tools.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us?

The BP Ultimate BRW Triathlon

On Sunday I competed in the Perth leg of the national BP Ultimate BRW Triathlon series. Here’s how it went down.

The guys got to my place at about 6:15AM and we rode down to the foreshore for the 6:30AM opening of the bike compound. We found our way pretty quickly and dropped our bikes and the Bike Hint gear in the transition area. It was important to remember the row we’d parked our bikes in come transition time, or we’d be wondering around aimlessly looking for the bikes, as Doug would later find out.

The race was late starting because the compound hadn’t been filled (and cleared of people) on time. Jacob was our first man in the water, and he started 21 minutes after the first racer. We had blue swim caps with white writing, which put us in the “informal” group, which was the last group to start the main race.

About half an hour after the main race started the sprint race started. This was different from the main race in that instead of each competitor competing in the full triathlon, three team members would do one stage each.

Jacob was the last out of the water in his division, which meant that we were effectively in last place for the whole race – I though that we’d be in trouble when our best swimmer came in last in our division :) He entered the transition area and Michael and myself made our way to the start of the bike track and waited for him to come out. And waited. It turned out that Jacob was confused with the bike rows and wasted about 3 minutes looking for his iron steed. Thankfully he found his ride and we saw him start the bicycle leg.

We waited and saw Jacob come across the dismount line after his 10km bike ride. He want back into the bike compound and swapped the deadly-treadly for his running shoes and came out for the 4km run.

At this point I needed to start getting ready so I went into the team transition area and waited for Doug to finish the run and give me our timing strap.

He came through the gates and we swapped the band without any problems and I started making my way into the Swan.

After the first 100m I gave up on freestyle as I was drinking too much of the river in each stroke. That sucked, big time. As I rounded the first buoy I knew that the only way I was actually going to finish the race was through sheer determination, as I clearly had no swimming ability. I settled into a slow but steady breast-stroke (queue the jokes) down the 200m straight. A few of the lifeguards asked if I was OK and I smiled and nodded, and carried on my not-so-merry way.

Getting out of the water my legs felt like jelly(fish) and I made my way into the bike area. Jacob and Michael gave me some Gatorade on the way which was great. I found my wheels no-problem and had a quick towel-down, threw on my shirt, socks and cycling shoes and pushed the bike to the mount line. Doug and Michael cheered me on some more.

I got on the bike and noticed that the tyres felt really, really flat. I hadn’t noticed this on the ride from my house in the morning, but it meant that I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted to as there was more surface on the road, and I was losing energy. I did the 10km circuit out to UWA and back at a steady pace, knowing that I had the run coming up next. Michael and Doug met me at the end of the bike leg and motivated me further.

I dropped the bike and grabbed my shoes and hit the 4km run. About 1km into it I got a really bad stitch just below my right rib cage. I knew I had two choices: I could stop and rest for a second and make up the time later, or keep going at a slower pace. I decided that it was more important to me to be able to say that I had done the race without stopping than to stop and recover, so I kept on trudging.

I entered the transition area and was told that Michael had been sent out with another timing band already so I didn’t need to hand mine off to him. This was a bit disappointing, as I would have liked to “tag” him into the race, but because of the delays with the start they were pushed for time and sent out the third competitors before the second returned for about two dozen of the remaining teams.

I met Doug and we went to see Michael finish up his swim. He didn’t look good, but then none of us did after the swim. He transitioned and we gave him some Gatorade. Doug and I met Michael as he came out the bike compound and as he started the bike race we cheered for him.

At this point, we were the last team on the course, although there were racers only a few minutes in front of us.

Michael came out ready for his run and he didn’t look good. Doug and I were going to run with him to help motivate him, but we didn’t get a chance. Mike made it a few hundred metres, stopped, and threw up a litre of Gatorade. An event organiser came over and was really helpful, offering us water and advice, and really making everyone feel better. I appreciated that.

As team captain I made the choice to withdraw us form the race. Michael didn’t look like he could finish and I didn’t want him to feel pressured into to completing the race, so I decided it was enough.

We gathered our thoughts, had a few laughs and went and met Aaron, Mark and Emma as we collected our bikes. We had lots of stories to tell when we got back to my place, and the three team mates along with Aaron hit Nandos for a well deserved feast.

I had a great time, and the results were as follows:

  Jacob Matt Michael
Swim 10:54 14:35 16:04
Ride 30:48 27:38 30:32
Run 21:08 28:10

Ben pointed out that my time on the swim would have been a minute or so faster than what was recorded because it included Doug running in the gate, handing me the timing strap, me putting it on my ankle and running down to the water’s edge. I’ll take any bonuses I can get :)

This will serve as an interesting record of what my base-line performance is, so that if I train next year I’ll have something to compare it to.

The first 100

Today I clocked over 100km travelled on the bike. The average ride is about 9km – I’m only riding between my home and work at the moment, though I plan on doing some 40km rides on Saturday mornings with Aaron.

So this hobby has cost me about $20/km so far :)

iPod safe and sound (pun intended)

I rode my bike to work today and used my iPod. Because I’m using the Nike+ running shirts there’s a pouch for the iPod to sit in.

I had a shower at work, settled into some work and put a load of washing on. I thought my iPod was in the shirt still but it turns out I was wrong. It’s now sitting safely in the dock.

Tragedy averted!