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Category Archives: cycling

life after a tour

Dearest Gerwood,

I hope you’re well. It’s been some time since we’ve spoken and a lie would be to say that I have not missed your company. You have been sorely missed.

The return to ordinary life following the tour has been painful – and I say this without doubt or melodrama – but simply in the purity of honest words. The weather in Sydney has been, on the most part, raining. Work has been busy and perpetual and my bottom has too long been far from the sweet caress of a saddle. Ah – but sadly such is life.

However, I have not despaired. Plans have begun for another trip, and I will shortly make a request to my employers for at least a month off work to explore the world on two wheels. But I’ll tell you more of this when I have firmed up my plans.

I also intend to ride to work sometimes – guaranteeing at least three hours of riding a day, sometimes during the week. However this has been a bit more difficult than expected. The ride I would use for this is the Cell SS300, fitted with flat pedals, Shimano Tiagra shifters (which really are just a pile of you-know-what) and flat bars. Flat bars are no longer my favourite, and I would prefer these to be curved – but the thought of changing the bars rather than saving for a Brompton is repulsive to me.

As life is life, and difficult, I soon discovered that the SS300 frame did not have rack inserts. After a quick search on the internet I discovered that this problem can easily be solved with the use of P-clips:

A very simple piece of hardware that can be used to screw the rack onto the frame. My first mistake was thinking that this would be simple – however after going to two hardware stores in my lunch break I discovered that nowhere in Sydney city can you buy any kind of hardware and that there are no longer any real men in Sydney. Just hipsters and poor excuses.

On the weekend I took the opportunity to go to Bunnings where lowest prices are just the beginning, because they don’t have range of stock that include p-clips.

Also, dear, I was almost at a lose. Ready to give up and carry all my wares on my bike (which I usually do one short rides) – when I remembered, once again, that there’s a thing called the internet. So it took a whole week, and a late Monday night before I had ordered a pack of ten p-clips, which are now being shipped.

Shortly I will be able to attach the rack to the bike and then I will be free to live my dreams of riding.

love

s.

photo book : lake tekapo to queenstown

photo book : christchurch to geraldine

the final countdown

Dearest Gerwood,

The day that I leave is almost upon me and I can barely contain the excitement. Actually this is a lie. This weekend, as well as being my last weekend in Sydney before the trip, is also Brother’s and his families’ last weekend in Sydney. Which you know causes me some sadness because I do enjoy their company and I have a great love for the children. But situations in life do change, and all we can do is enjoy what is enjoyable while it lasts.

My bag has been packed for about a week now – but I think I’ve finalised the items that I will be taking with me; which means I’ve removed about 20% of what I had originally packed. As I said to a collegue – I’ve taken more clothes with me on a weekend trip to Melbourne.

3 2x pairs of bike shorts
3 2x riding jerseys
8 3x pairs of socks
5 3x pairs of breathable underwear
5 2x sports bras
1x cotton pants
2x non-jersey shirts
2 1x pyjamas
1x quick dry towel
1x duck down vest
1x reflector vest (I’m so cool)
1x tent
1x sleeping bag
1x stove and mess kit (Yes, I caved and decided that I would like warm food on some nights).
1x repair kit, pump & tubes
1x knife
1x toiletries etc
1x riding shoes
1x normal shoes
1x thongs
5x caffeinated gel packs (to solve the caffeine issue mentioned in an earlier post)
1x camera
1x head torch
1x hydration pack & bladder
1x rope

I hope that I have prepared everything that I require to get me out of Christchurch at the very least. Eventually all those items will look like this:

…except, with real panniers.

Dearest Gerwood, I know that you’re concerned for my safe return, and for whatever may happen between leaving and arriving back home – but I am assured that New Zealand was greatly misrepresented in the movie Black Sheep and that riding a bike for three to five hours a day is not that great of a strain. In fact I know that latter to be true.

Maybe I only need two pairs of underwear to change between. It’s the strangest feeling to measure the world in grams and kilograms. This is perhaps how a drug dealer feels about their life in general.

I will try to keep you updated on my progress as much as I can, dearest.

Love.

s.

the truth about being a lady cyclist

This isn’t a letter to Gerwood because these are things that I guarantee men never want to know. This is almost a secret topic that only lady cyclists know and they pass on to each other as they talk and share knowledge with one another. It’s like what menstruating was a few years ago, and child birth before that, and the female orgasm before that – actually, all those things, but in the opposite order. But I will share this now – just in case another lady cyclist comes along and she doesn’t know anyone who can tell her better.

Life would tell you that lady cycling looks like this:

All sexy with a bellowing skirt – and without mammary support. Or like this:

…all beautiful and autumn-like – with heels and and a basket, filled with baguettes (which is the only thing a basket should be filled with).

However there’s a horrible truth about lady cycling – more precisely, lady cycle touring. When you cycle tour it means that for days you’ll be riding your bike for at least 5-7 hours a day. Your whole body is clad in Lycra with padding in certain areas to protect your most intimate and delicate areas from chaffing and bruising (yes bruising – ride enough and it happens). Sometimes at the end of the day you’re walking so bow-legged you feel like a prostitute.

There are two problems with being a lady cyclists. The first one is UTI – urinary tract infection. The sweating from physical exertion, and the discretely placed padding, coupled with the non-breathable Lycra means that every woman is in constant danger of flap-rash (a term coined by my lovely, and crass friend Rollings). Prolonged flap-rash leads to UTI, which leads to painful urinating. Urinating is a pain when you’re on your bike anyway – women don’t have the luxury of just peeing ‘out the side‘. So that’s problem number one. I aim to avoid this affliction by being without pants as often as possible – and when I am wearing pants, I’ll have quick-dry underwear on underneath. Yes, quick-dry underwear is a real thing – how gross is that?

The second problem is not quite associated with sweating, but with physical exertion. Once a month I find myself curled in a ball, moaning and crying and asking God to kill me now. Periods are a bitch and if I have PMS you’re lucky all I did was yell at you, cos I really want to bite off the tip of your penis (don’t worry, I feel like this about women too). The thought of riding through the pain of lactic build up in my muscles, or cardiovascular pressure gives me a little kick. But the thought of riding through the usual cramps makes me want to prematurely curl up into a ball. To combat this problem, for the first time in my life, I’ve gone on the pill. There are a bunch of issues associated with this that women generally ignore – like blood pressure and other reproductive issues. But meh – I’d choose the ride over that stuff.

So that’s the lovely wonderful parts of being a lady cyclists. I’m sorry to shatter the fantasy, I’m sure that the women in the above pictures have dealt with these issues by wearing sexy skirts and backless tops. Probably, definitely, I’m going to be far less glamorous than they.

So – enjoy the thoughts on this.

spreadsheets & schedules

Dear Gerwood,

FITNESS UPDATE: 6km run; 13 km ride (last Thursday)

Since you’re an intimate friend of mine, you know the nuances of my life and my job in the real world, horrible dirty place that it is. Then you also know the importance of timing and contingency in my everyday life. How vital it is for me to be able to read situations and people and react accordingly to ensure deadlines are met and stakeholders are kept happy. All of that sort of thing. I live in excel and project; and I sometimes have my days timed to the minute – during working hours anyway.

So it naturally comes as a small to large surprise that my social life does not follow suit. In fact it’s a dismal attempt at being an organised and functioning adult. I’ve missed weddings, I’ve stood dates up and worst of all, I’ve forgotten birthdays of dearly loved friends and family.

It is of some concern that I am faced with being away from all of my friends, riding to places where there is no food readily available and strange timezone things that confuse me about when I’ll be sleeping and when I’ll be riding. In my attempt to be organised and live the life of an adult I have a plan:

The clouds are the locations where I will be staying over night – I guess because we should all aim to sleep on clouds. The highlighter is an identifier for the kind of accommodation that I’ll have on any one of the nights. And the paper has a grid drawn on it – I don’t know where I got it from, but it seemed more professional. I assume eventually I’ll put this into a spreadsheet, but I’ll probably do this while I’m at work.

The plans are coming along nicely, tonight I buy a knife. I assume to use to cut fruit, but I think Brother thinks that I may be in danger of attackers while travelling.

love & affection

s.

this week was not such a great week

Dear Gerwood,

This week wasn’t the greatest weeks in terms of fitness. I had a lot of work to do for the thesis thing that I’m doing and my supervisor decided that it was time that we had a chat – which is fine, except talking to her just means that I end up talking about programming and she talks to me about her son and Game of Thrones. Which isn’t so bad – I guess.

I did, however watch this youtube video again – just to get me in the mood:

This guy, Robin Moore, he’s an Australian who lived out the dream that we’ve all had and moved to Portland Oregan. He probably spends his life riding his bike around, and making craft things. Ah to live the wonderful life – I think living there would be such a beautiful thing. I could live close to wherever I was working. Go home to a dark, but quaint cottage, and spend my evenings knitting and baking.

And of course I haven’t forgotten about you, my dear Gerwood. Although we’re almost strangers to each other now, we would of course live like lovers in this dark and quaint cottage. You would take up wood-carving, and your soft programmer’s hands would  become rough to resist the splinters. You would smell like wool and computers.

We’d have parties and invite our closest friends. Naturally Jane would come and wear an inappropriate black dress. She would flirt with you while Edward, her guest and latest lover, would look on sullenly and ask himself “why?”. Michael and Therese, the lovely postgraduate couple who we met at the big table in that cafe that one time. As usual they’ll both have a burning desire to talk about whatever the latest hipster trend is and how much they hate it. Then there would be sad John, who has a terrible job, hates his ex-wife and never gets to see his children, but knows magic, so he must always be invited. Suesy and Lynette, sisters, both of whom you have slept with, Gerwood, but that was before you we met so there is nothing to forgive. And beautiful Scott, who is fabulously gay and so delightfully pleasing to the eye that when I’m unhappy I just look at pictures at him and instantly feel better.

At the end of the night the table will look like this:

All the plates will be clean, and our guests will have left and we’ll sit together at opposite ends of the table and laugh about how ridiculously euphoric the night was. Then we’ll have a competition to see who can blow out the most candles – much like Gimli and Legolas did in the Battle of Helm’s Deep – before going to sleep between sheets that I knitted on a bed with a headboard you carved.

This is the life that we would live out in Portland dear Gerwood. Can you wait?

With love & affection,

s.