Category Archives: on yer bike

Karma

We’ve been back on the tandem! Three weeks in a row now, and we hope to keep it up  -if I can wangle a leave pass from netball again that is.  A joke we made on the weekend about our (lack of) social life has led to a new (but perfect!) term for our time together on our bicycle built for two:    “Speed dating.”  (Think about it!)

So on Saturday we went speed dating – and did our ‘civilised’ ride into town to meet up with the earlybird (6.30am) Community Ride cyclists at 8.00 when they arrive back at the mall for coffee. Our ‘date’ is to ride 23km into town,  have coffee, a bite to eat, and a chat, and then ride the 23km back home up the highway again – just in time for Himself to drive the girls to netball.

Unfortunately, part and parcel of being a cyclist who rides any distance is that you cop abuse from motorists who don’t know the road rules.

On Saturday we copped a doozy, with a karmic twist, you might say. I was that fired up about it, that I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper. It is way too long, so probably won’t get published…  So, in the interests of self-publication, and lack of time (!), rather than rehash it as a blog post, I’ll copy it here:

An experience on the weekend leads me to beg all road users to refresh their knowledge of their road rules.  Like it or not, bicycles are classed as vehicles, and as such are actually allowed to be on the road. Blowing your horn and yelling abuse to a slower moving vehicle in the lane in front of you, but following the road rules appropriately, is actually not ok.

Local business owners in particular might like to take the opportunity to ensure that their employees are up to speed with their road rule knowledge.  On Saturday morning my husband and I were riding our tandem in town, obeying the road rules as we waited at the lights at [.. a major intersection], and then headed north on the highway. In the short distance under the railway bridge, we were ‘honked’ and then abused by the occupants of a truck carrying the identification of a local company, simply because we were on the road.

Karma is a strange thing. We are about to start major house renovations. Guess which company will now not be given an opportunity to quote on a significant supply and fix job? And guess which company name will inevitably be mentioned when we share that particular experience with friends and fellow cyclists?

And guess which truck just so happened to end up parked just up the road from our house later that morning?  My husband took the opportunity to let the driver know that his knowledge of the road rules needs updating.  (The passenger responsible for the verbal abuse also did not know that you are only allowed to ride your bike on the footpath – where he thought we should have been – if you are under 12 or supervising an under-12).

I am still trying to decide whether to let the business owner know as well.

Before receiving a tirade of letter abuse in response, I would add that, just as a percentage of motor vehicle drivers do the wrong thing on the road, I acknowledge that there are indeed cyclists who give the rest of us a bad name by doing the wrong thing on the roads. As a motorist AND cyclist, I’ll get cranky with either!

I would also acknowledge that when we are riding we also experience some great courtesy from drivers. A big thank you to all those trucks and cars who do give riders some room and some breathing space.

A quick Google of ‘nsw road rules bicycles’ and a read through the Bicycle Safety section of the RTA road safety information is recommended reading for all of us who use the roads.

I just sent a copy to my friend who works in the smaller local paper. Maybe I’ll get some mileage out of it.  If I can enlighten a handful of people about the actual road rules, then I will have achieved something.

I just wish I’d been a fly on the wall of the car when Himself spotted the exact same truck in our street.   He was.. what can I say .. not aggressive.. but .. ‘firm’.  And I think he may have left him stewing about whether I am going to ring his boss!

But what are the chances of seeing that exact truck a couple of hours later  – in our street?!

That’s what I call karma.

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Filed under miscellaneous minutiae, on yer bike, what the???

A precious weekend.

You know.. I think I’m a bit of a homebody.  Oh, I love to travel, as you know.  But it’s hard to beat a sunny, autumn  (mid-school holidays/pre netball season madness) weekend at home. Just me, him and the kids – and that beach just over there!

I just had one of those weekends, and I loved it, loved it, loved it.  (Ack.. did I just channel that SYTYCD guy?  Help me!)

Himself arrived home on Friday night after a four-night work trip. Nothing like a bit of absence to make the heart a bit fonder, I guess. Once upon a time a four-night mid-week trip would have been nothing. Pffft! In comparison to 4 weeks (6 weeks. 3 months…) – meh!  But we stopped all that three years ago, saved a marriage, and, obviously, get to enjoy a whole lot more time together.

School holidays – when we don’t go away – can be characterised, around here,  by a bit too much sloth.  Friday afternoon, though, Ms 16 kept a pinky promise  we made with each other (with some sort of ‘thumb lock’!)  and went out for a ride on our road bikes.

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Filed under awesome, miscellaneous minutiae, on yer bike, our beach

Slideshow mania

Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop. Besides which, it’s raining AGAIN, and so my only real alternative for entertainment today is vacuuming.

Well, what would you do? Upload photos and play around with presentation options? Or make a noise?

With the publication of my article (and with no adventures in the pipeline) I decided to reminisce about our July tandem tour again, and muck around with presentation. ie. showing the photos in a better way than linking them to a facebook album, (as I did when we got back and I first blogged about it.)

I even went so far as adding music to this one just to see what it was like. (There wasn’t a lot of choice there, ok.. but one of them actually kinda fits the bill – I can’t seem to control the order in which they play!!).  I’m definitely not a fan of automatic music on webpages, so this is definitely a ‘proceed at your own peril’ warning if you’re reading this on the home page of the blog.

[Ed: I don’t know how to solve BB’s ‘hotlink’ problem, but to minimise crash potential, I’ve gone to the previous posts with slideshows, and either split it off from the home page post (with a ‘read more’ option) or removed it.   Can’t have them crashing my home page when people come to my blog! This weekend happened to coincide with the start of an increased broadband speed for us (1500/256) so maybe it is just too much for slower connections.  Looks like it’s all very purty and that, but of limited use if it’s going to be such a pain. Oh well. I’ve had fun I guess. Better look for a different option next time. ]
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Filed under miscellaneous minutiae, on yer bike

And I will ride one hundred miles ..

[Hmm, maybe I should leave parodies to the expert – but if you’re in the mood you could read that title to the tune of a certain Proclaimers song ….  hmm.. *cough*… yeah….]

Anyway!  Yes, well, I – we –  rode 100 miles last Sunday.  In one day. 160.934km or some such.  Yeah, crazy, I know.

Why do we do it? Why do we do anything?  Because it’s there?  Because it’s a challenge?  To prove that the first two times we did it weren’t a fluke? I’m still not sure really. (It’s retrospective enjoyment thing I think.)

It’s not the longest ride we’ve ever done in a day either. Last year in September we went down to Melbourne and rode in the Around The Bay in a Day ride – on the 210km loop.  And a couple of weeks before that we rode round and round a velodrome for 20 something hours straight – to raise money for ROMAC (a Rotary charity to bring kids to Australia for operations) Never again, that one.)

This is the third year that our local BUG (Bicycle User Group) has done this ride, and we’ve  done all three,  along with one other rider.  [ This is a blog piece I wrote about last year’s ride.]

So, really, doing another 100 mile-in-a-day ride isn’t anything too untoward for us. We know we can do it, so there is not the ‘unknown’ factor to add to the ‘appeal’. This year I toyed with the idea of doing it on my single – to prove that I could – but in the end we kept with the tandem. We feel more like we are doing something together when we ride that, and it’s just more fun.  Possibly it is easier. (Certainly it is faster). But I do know that Himself as captain makes me push harder than I would on my own.  Swings and roundabouts, really.

This year the numbers were much smaller – only 7 riders, and four support crew.

100milergroupTwo tandems this year – which was fun.  (We are slowly but surely spreading the word about tandems – the other couple bought theirs earlier this year just to join us on a tandem tour down the east coast of  Tasmania.)

This year was the first for a recumbent!  So the ‘out of the ordinary’ outnumbered the ‘ordinary’ with  the other two being  just two half bikes…  I mean  “singles”.

We start at a seaside village an hour or so’s drive north of here, so we drive up the day before. The first year the guy that organised it had pretty much all of us camping.  Pitching a tent for us and the kids for one night, and packing it all up before setting off to ride a long way at 6.30 am, didn’t rate that highly for us – so last year, with kids in tow still – we got a holiday unit (which was better than camping at least.)

This year we got to share a house with the other tandem couple, and two others, AND for the first time, left the kids at home, overnight,  with Ms 16 in charge.

The house was great, the bed was comfortable, I took spaghetti bol to share for dinner, and it was all wonderfully civilised.  The beachside camping spot, still the accommodation of choice for a few stalwarts, was all very nice, but, with the ‘breeze’ coming right off the water, very *fresh*.  August is still winter, even on the north coast!!

With a 6.30 meeting time, we still got to savour the sunrise over the water.

tandemsunrise

recumbentsunrise

We break the ride up into ‘manageable’ sections – and the support crew drive ahead and meet us (wth provisions.)   This year the first section of 27km, initially through coastal scrub (and then rural villages) provided the ‘story’ of the ride.  We were tailing C. on his recumbent when all of a sudden a kangaroo leapt out from the right, on a collision course for C.  The roo realised at the last second and attempted a 180 bailout turn – and slipped and fell!  But was still sliding!  As it scrabbled around on the road, trying to get purchase to get up, C, and then us, just managed to weave around it.   (Boy did that get the adrenalin pumping!) Had it not propped when it did, or had it slid further, I hate to think what the outcome might have been. For C. – in only his fourth year of living in this country – it was certainly as Aussie a cycling experience as he might ever have!  Signs along that part of the road warn of the wild emus (and we did see some roaming the paddocks), but I suppose to be wary of kangaroos on country roads should always be a given.

The next leg of the ride took us onto an island in a river. With sugar cane on one side, and the river on the other, but flat as a tack, the 10km around to the car ferry is always enjoyable, and perfect riding for tandems. It was kind of eerie this year, with fog still heavily shrouding the river and riverbanks – we pretty soon took the lead and ‘towed’ everyone round to the ferry.  From the middle of the river on the ferry, you couldn’t see either bank – so while we’ve ridden this bit of road on several occasions, we’d never seen it this way before!

Another quick stop, and then a flat (but bumpy) 30km to our lunch spot by the river in the big town, and the knowledge that we were pretty much half way. At this point I was starting to think that 80km is really more of a sensible total for one day’s ride. (So heaven knew why I was riding twice that!) Unfortunately the hardest was still to come – with the rest of the ride involving more… shall we say .. “undulating” countryside.

That said, while the uphills are more of a grind for tandems, we enjoy the momentum gained from the downhill runs.  We had three stops in this next 80km section – and by this stage you don’t really know what you feel like eating – you just want to finish the damn thing, but you know you need to keeping stoking up the ‘engine’ at least until you reach the top of Red Hill.  From there you can see the ocean again;  the end is in sight, and once you’re there, you know you’ve made it. A hoot of a downhill run, then just a few more kilometres till you pull up at the finishing point near the harbour.

Then it’s high fives, handshakes and hugs all round, as we share pride in our achievement, and appreciation to the support crew .

I’ve struggled to feel elated about it this week though. I should feel more positive about the whole thing, but there has been this niggly irritation with it all, and I feel resentful that much of the joy of riding it was taken away by the goals and objectives of the guy that started it all.

We have participated in quite a few long rides now – the sort that are organised by Cycling organisations (and which often raise money for some cause or another.)  They have ranged from 50km through to 210km (as well as the multi-day Big Rides), and basically all of them expect you to ride  at your own pace. They provide a sag wagon for any casualties, but other than that, don’t expect faster riders to ‘help’ slower riders – or to ‘stay together’. (Well, if you do enter such a ride with slower friends, then it’s up to you what arrangements you come to.)

This one – well – it’s different. Supposedly.  It’s been organised as a social BUG ride – albeit a long one – and the organiser is hung up on everyone riding “together” and the idea of the faster riders helping the slower riders.  He likes the faster riders to let the slower riders set out ahead after each checkpoint so that we don’t get too strung out. He likes the faster bikes to help the slower bikes by riding with, or just in front of them so they can ride in the draft, and thus get a tow. He doesn’t like us to get more than about five minutes apart!

Which is all very fine and noble. BUT.  It doesn’t always work.  From our point of view, a  tandem can provide a great tow, but you have to be a strong enough rider to stay on the back for any length of time. A tandem builds up a huge momentum going downhill, and so you have to be extra good to hang on the back. And tandem riders do not appreciate having to brake going downhills because you need as much momentum as you can get to ride up the next hill. And part of the joy of riding the tandem is the speed you can go, so you don’t really feel like having to slow down. Or having to stop every few kilometres.

And, you know, I  think anyone attempting to ride 160km in a day should be stoic enough not to need babysitting all the way. Certainly not for sections of 30km and under, as is the case here. But this, apparently is not quite how the organiser sees it – and this year, as support crew, he was in fully fledged ‘teacher’ mode – exhorting us, like primary school kids on a school excursion –  to “stay together” – even sofaras insisting on the first 27km leg that we stop and regroup at the 20km mark. He even gave out a sheet where he’d done calculations on average speed/distance disparities, and how easy it was to stop and wait.

He also went so far, at one point, as to holding my seat (before I went to get on it) as if to prevent us from taking off till he’d deemed the others had got a long enough headstart. (Had I not noticed I would have ended up with his hand up my bum, so I was not amused!)

And the slowest rider, at one checkpoint, had a bit of a whine about wishing that he was riding this year, because he would have ridden with her…

But she was only about 5 minutes behind us getting into the checkpoints.  I tussled in my head with the whole issue all day (because I was being made to feel guilty all day) and decided that if it was me, it would be no big deal. I would accept that I was slower, and I’d be quite happy with the idea that we were regrouping at the six checkpoints along the way.  In fact, I would quite simply hate being patronised every few kilometres en route. (Frankly I’d rather the applause each time I bravely pedalled into each stop!)

More and more I realise that I am a ridiculously hyper-sensitive soul, but with an outer layer of indignation – so I don’t handle these sort of situations very well. Others will be either oblivious to all the nuances and innuendos, and the way other people speak to them (the ‘water off a duck’s back’  gift)  – while I flounder around in a sea of guilt, indecision, and frustration. (And here I am nearly a week later still stewing about it!)

Right now I don’t feel like doing this ride again – unless it is on a single where I would volubly announce to all and sundry that I DO NOT want to be babysat the whole way, thankyouverymuch.

Otherwise, I’m feeling that having ticked that box three times now, maybe next year should be the year for finding another cycling challenge to add to our collection.   One without any guilt. And one where I can be an adult, not a child.

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Filed under on yer bike, what the???

Home again

We were only away a week and a half, but it feels longer somehow. (Feels like an eternity in blog-time.)  We had ourselves a jam packed program – three intense days of #2’s netball, followed immediately by our full-on 5 day tandem tour – bookended by the six hour car trip each way.

We didn’t give ourselves any filler days to regroup or relax – our M.O. is to make the most of every day. By the end of it I was pretty well stuffed, and looking forward to my own bed.  (Even though a couple of the beds on our cycle trip were  excellent – queen size, and of a firmness that Goldilocks would have totally approved – it only takes one night in the double at my parents’ for us to be whingeing and missing our own. Four nights was four TOO many… and we won’t mention the trickly shower at their house either – though Ms 16 has attempted to extract promises that we won’t abandon her there again while we go off doing our own thing for a few days. (It’s not us she misses, it’s all about the shower.)

Anyway, we’re home again and one more holiday is relegated to photos and memories.  My legs are still sore, so the memories, at least, are not yet dimmed. And I’m not ready to sit on a bike saddle again just yet. Give me a few more days.

netball

One netballer.

tandemtour1

Two cyclists – one bike. About to set off.

Hmmm, I have a few photos to sort through, and cull. (Particularly the ones of myself that I hate!) Maybe a job for tomorrow, in between washing and trying to catch up with domestics.

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Filed under miscellaneous minutiae, on yer bike

One person’s cinch is another person’s challenge.

I didn’t learn much about bikes when I was a kid. I didn’t learn to ride a bike till I was 12, when I got  my first ever bike for my birthday  – a girl’s dragstar with flowers on the seat. (What was I thinking?!)

firstbike

A few years later I, unsurprisingly, grew out of the dragstar (Really, Mum and Dad, what were you thinking? ).  Dad did up an old ‘ladies bike’ for me. No gears or anything, but I was  impressed. I rode it around the local streets a bit with friends, but never very far afield. Some years later  I took it with me when I went away to college, and I used it to ride to and from the shops. I also recall an ambitious attempt to ride around Mount Panorama – a street car racing circuit, renowned for its almost 200m climb.  There’s not a chance in hell I could have ridden up to the top of the circuit with no gears – but back then I daresay I wouldn’t have thought twice about getting off and walking. (Now it would be a matter of pride to do it without getting off! – it’s amazing what you can do with a triple chain ring and a ‘granny gear’.)

Anyway, I digress – I DO actually have a point to this meander down memory lane! (Never mind the fact that yesterday I got sidetracked  for hours leafing through old photo albums!)  My point is that I haven’t got a clue what I did back then if and when I got a flat !  Probably walked it back to the dorm, and left it till my Dad came to visit.  All I can say now (in hindsight) is that I can’t have ridden it very much or very far. (Certainly I have no photos and I have no idea what happened to it.)

It wasn’t till a few more years later, when I was going out with M. that I even considered getting another bike. But he’d recently bought himself a mountain bike – and so the logical thing for me to do was to get one too. Heck, I wasn’t going to miss out on any of the fun!  He had, of course,  spent much more time on bikes as a kid. Firstly, he’s a boy, and secondly, he used to career around the dirt roads near his family’s holiday house  on a road bike, and a mate’s homemade tandem. Apart from ending up a better rider,  he also taught himself a lot about bike maintenance.

We got into the riding a bit – the 90km Sydney to Gong ride not long after my purchase, and we got offroad a bit as well.  We even did some bike touring (with camping gear) – one in the Snowy Mountains, and one where we rode from the Gold Coast to Byron Bay, and back over four days or so.  And then after a several year hiatus (building a house, having babies, bla, bla) we bought tandems, and the rest.. as they say.. is history.

tandem1

It would be safe to say we’re right into the cycling thing now. All the while, though, because I was always riding with the Dearly Beloved,  if we got a puncture, he’d fix it.  How smart is that? Always ride with your bike mechanic, and, no worries! Sure, I’ll hold the bike, and hand over the tools, but Mr Efficiency will always have us back on the road in no time.

tripleflat
But two years ago I got my own road bike, and inevitably now there are more and more times when I end up heading off without him – either with other cyclists, or even on my own.  And to be any sort of self-respecting cyclist, you know that you have to be able to look after yourself when you get a flat. If you ride a road bike, with the skinnier tyres, you have more chance of getting a flat.

So, I’ve taken lessons from my Dearly Beloved Bike Mechanic, and I can change a tube.

S-l-o-w-l-y.

But I do want to be able to do this. I like the idea of being a bit self-sufficient. In fact, there’s nothing worse than having some other macho male cyclist (other than your husband) taking over and changing your tube for you.  (Especially when you have the experience one day where you end up with four flats because Macho Cyclist is so busy showing off that he can change a tube in 2 minutes, he hasn’t checked thoroughly enough for the cause of the puncture, and the glass embedded in the tyre keeps causing more punctures, and so after the fourth one you give up and call your husband from work to come and rescue you and the bike , and he grills you about why you didn’t check for glass like he taught you, and you can’t quite get him to understand how Macho Cyclist just took over!)

So, I carry spares and tools , and my motto now is “I’ll do it myself!”   Just I’m a bit slow at it, so it affects me in a few ways.

Firstly, if I happen to be in a group, I’ll send them on, because I’m still at the stage where I can’t bear to have anyone hovering over me while I fiff and faff and sort myself out. I’ll only be slower  with someone watching me.

But it also kind of affects where and when I choose to ride by myself.  I really would like to use my bike more for transport, but it leaves me with a time frame issue. “What if” I get a flat? It could put me half an hour behind time, by the time I sort myself out. So quite often I’ll pike on the idea of riding somewhere.  Don’t want to be late, you know.

And even though I know I want to ride more from a training and fitness point of view, it’s very hard to motivate yourself to just go out for a random 50km solo bike ride! Sometimes you need a goal. Like other people, and coffee!

So on Sunday an 0pportunity arose (you knew I’d get to the point at some stage…). M. had had an invitation to go and ride up a mountain with some other guys. Certainly not something I wanted to do, or could do – but it is one of those local challenges that beckons mad cyclists. “Off you go”, I said.

I had the chance to do a BUG ride, and meet up with a friend who had come from out of town with some other cyclists to ride with the BUG  – but I wanted a bit more distance, and a bit more of a challenge (and variation of scenery) for myself than the ‘out and back’ route they were all doing…

Hmmm. I could ride from home. Five kilometres of highway, but I’d cope.  One steep hill, and quite undulating countryside till I could rendezvous with the group at their turn around point about 24km from home.  I’d then ride on (back to their starting point) with them, have coffee (of course – and FOOD), then, I could either retrace my route, or continue on down to Coffs, and head back home up the highway.

Doable, Tracey. A challenge by yourself… but doable. Take spare tubes, levers, etc. You CAN change a tube if you have to.

There was also the angst about leaving the youngest kid at home till a big sister got back from a sleepover – but, she’d be right for an hour, and she’d sloth around all morning whether I was there or not. Wouldn’t she? .. (Mother guilt, much?)

But it’d be kind of cool to ride all the way, instead of driving first.

A challenge.

So off I set.

You know how you wonder sometimes if the universe is trying to send you a message?

I got a flat only 8km from home.

But it was the front, so that’s a bit easier. And there was a bus shelter right there, so – hey – that was a good sign. And I found the hole!! – not something I’ve always managed to do – and I lined the tube up with the tyre, and then even found the culprit/s. Glass!  Got it out with tweezers. Cool.  So far, so good. You can do this Tracey.

Then I snapped off the tip of the valve on the new tube! Sheesh. I pulled out the second tube, and  after a struggle, successfully got the tyre back on, and the tube pumped up and looking ok.

I wasn’t going to make the first rendezvous point, so more time was consumed sending texts, and deciding what to do. I had no tubes left, so if I got another puncture, I’d have to pull out the patch kit and I’d never make it out to meet everyone. (I have patched tubes, but not for some time, so figuring all that out would take ages.) The alternative, though, was to turn around and go home, ending up with only 16km under my belt.

So, Universe? What do I do?

Onwards! On a wing and a prayer! – came the answer, and so I did. It’s hard to ride a bike with your fingers crossed, but I did. (Joke.) It’s hard to ride a bike when text messages and calls from your kids keep coming in. (Not a joke). But I made it for coffee, (and a sausage roll AND an apple turnover .. what?! I was HUNGRY by then!) – and then rode the further 12km down to Coffs with the friend from out of town.

By then I was well and truly knackered, and I piked it by arranging for M. to pick me up on his way home from his adventure. Not quite the ‘no car’ achievement, but still, I’d done 52km – and the first 40km, solo,  to coffee included  730m worth of climb (and 630m descent – which means going up and down a bit!) including one really steep hill. And my tube had stayed up!

The tube changing experts don’t realise how much energy you can drain changing a tube when you’re not an expert.  (Nor how long it can take a novice. That whole tube change probably took me 45 mins all up – including all the text messaging!) Factor all that in, and what would be a cinch to some was rather a challenge to me, but all in all (once it was over!) an achievement.

So I’ve come a long way with bikes in 30 odd years – and much of what I’m now achieving has only come since I’ve been in my forties. Proof that, with a bit of support, perseverance, and trust in yourself and the Universe, you can quite often do more than you think you can – no matter how old you are – even fixing a puncture!

Now if only I could apply that to other areas of my life!

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Filed under it's just another manic mum day, on yer bike

Great preparations.

With our 5-day (550km) tandem touring trip looming, M. and I have been getting ourselves prepared. (I wonder why I can’t concentrate on TAFE work…I should just ditch all ideas of study or work, and be a full time family holiday and tour coordinator. )

We’ve decided on a route and I’ve booked, so far, 3 out of the 4 night’s accommodation. My dream bike touring getaway would be to be totally spontaneous, but when you’ve got a time frame to work within, and it’s school holidays, then it’s best to be a bit organised. Also, being mid-winter, (albeit NSW, Australia-style) I don’t fancy trundling around in the late afternoon as the temperature plummets looking for a place to stay.

We also threw our ambit claim of 4 nights babysitting at the grandparents, and, I think, managed to persuade them that the girls were old enough to entertain themselves (by catching a train to go shopping) at least one or two days. Phew.

The biggest preparation has involved getting set up for as-light-as-possible luggage. We haven’t done a multi-day tandem ride carrying all our own gear before.  We already had two bike panniers, (aka saddlebags) but M. has bought us new front panniers (and racks).

And then of course, there’s the clothing, because you need to be able to stay dry and warm, but you don’t want to be weighed down excessively.  On and off bike wear to be considered, with winter temps and the possibility of precipitation dictating a few new purchases – like shoe covers, waterproof bike pants, long fingered bike gloves (me – I didn’t have any), and other bits and pieces, as well as lightweight travel pants to be worn at night (to be worn with our polypropolene thermal underwear!)

I would say that, between us, we’ve bought more cycling clothing in the past few years than other new clothes  – probably gives you an insight into the shabby state of our normal wardrobe.  I love new bike gear – it cheers me up in the same way more normal women feel about ‘shopping therapy’- but shopping for it still doesn’t come without angst – for me at any rate.

You know the feeling of dread you get when you try on a new swimming costume/bathing suit? (OK, so not all women will feel it, but many will identify.) Well, that’s how it is with cycling clobber, unless you’re trim, taut and athletically terrific.

I’m not.

I might give off the air of athleticism (and body to match) when I spruik about our bike rides, but sadly I don’t have the figure to match. Something about cycling long distances, and then stuffing my face full of  “energy” to replace that which I’ve outlayed. (You do the maths… especially taking into account the warped logic that has me continuing to eat ‘whatever’ for the next few days, without burning up the calories at the same rate.) And a cycling posture doesn’t exactly work the abs…

Imagine ‘jelly belly’ if you must – you’d be on the right track.

Trying to haul on close fitting lycra in a cycling shop fitting room is an ordeal destined to bring on a bout of depression. Trying to avoid that by online shopping doesn’t help, because the size charts mock me from the computer screen as I disbelievingly circumnavigate my waist and hips with a tape measure, and compare.  And ask – if I’m an L in unisex, or WL or WXL, then heaven help women who are larger than me who want to get into cycling for fitness and weight loss.

Why put myself through this? – you might ask. Why wear the lycra? It’s not to look like a wanker – as many non-cyclists might think.  It’s actually functional, and more comfortable when you’re riding. True story!  I just wonder if they downsize women’s cycling clothing, in particular,  as a disincentive to fat bottomed girls who might dare to ride bicycles – however beautiful Queen might have them. (No wonder the girl on the record cover is barely dressed! They didn’t make bike nix in her size!)

Even trying on not-so-close fitting lightweight travel pants in a shop last weekend left me down and despondent. I found something comfortable – recommended by the shop assistant (who was wearing a pair at least 3 sizes smaller than fitted me). It was the least unflattering of several that I tried on – but I opted to wait and scour the internet when I got home for a darker colour in the hope that it would have a slightly better slimming effect than the light beige in the shop. (There went one afternoon last week – but at least I found some.)

But throw in a currently trim AND  fit husband shopping for the same type of stuff, and it’s just about wrist slitting time. I’m trying not to reach for the chocolate for consolation.

All that said, I love it when we ride. We went out this morning, and did 60-odd km with some other riders, and didn’t do it tough at all. OK, burnie quads on a couple of climbs, but fitness factor was ok.  (Could have done with a Nana Nap this arvo, but I’ll put that down to getting up at 6am.)  We should fit in a few more rides before we set off (from Sydney) on the 14th July.

And hopefully I’ll solve my remaining clothing/gear  issues before then, and maybe even manage to drop a couple of kilos by the end of our ride, if not before. But given the appetite that I get when I do ride (and for hours afterwards), and the comfort eating when I get down about trying on clothes, I’m not sure how I’ll go.

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