Saturday, April 26, 2014

First impressions - Rocky Mountain Cycles Trailhead 29

Well, I picked the bike up today (and dropped the red one off to let them have a crack at the perennial flat tire problem).

It's big, blue, and good-looking - just like Avatar!

Compared with the red bike, it's a new generation. It's got hydraulic disc brakes, new split-style shifters, more front fork supension, and a 10 speed rear gear set.

And 29" wheels. I defy anyone to ride this bike without singing Proud Mary under their breath - you know 'big wheel keep on turning ... rolling on the river' etc. I know I certainly can't.

The front wheel won't even fit into that photo!

I was pleased to be able to get the bike into my trusty Jazz (although I had to move my seat forward to get it in).

The first ride was this afternoon, down the rail trail to Hagley Park, a couple of laps there and back again for a total of 23km. All tarmac or well packed dirt, and flat.

The bike was great, I did notice it was a bit slower off the mark than the red one, but just shifting to a lower gear when stopping fixes that. Once it is moving then it seems to have more momentum and just wants to keep rolling on. I noticed that the ride was noticeably smoother, probably a combo of the big wheels (keep on turning), and the better front suspension.

I found the saddle to be ok, which had been a concern for me. On the red bike the stock saddle made me go numb in places you never want to go numb in, and I had to replace it. The jury is still out on this one because I was wearing my great baggy cycle shorts (review to come), and I'll need to see how it is with just jeans or whatever.

All in all, a great ride. It was faster, more comfortable, and more stable than the red bike.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I've ordered a new bike!

I like my red mountain bike, but decided that it is a bit too entry level.

Modern Mountain bikes are just amazing, and there is so much choice of brands etc, that it gets very confusing and intimidating to try to work out what to buy.

I started by setting a budget (of $1000-1500) which narrows down the field a bit.

Then I decided that I really wanted 29" wheels - they are supposed to be smoother, easier to pedal, and better at handling bumps etc. The only downside seems to be a slight loss of agility compared with the more traditional 26" (which is what my red bike is). I don't care about agility at the moment.

I've read lots of review sites and have finally chosen a Rocky Mountain Cycles Trailhead 29.

It seems to have everything I want and the guys at work have approved the technical specs. The main point of interest there is that it is 10 speed at the back, so 30 gears to choose from!

In NZ, the bike shops apparently only get stock once a year, so if you miss out you will have to wait a while to get the bike you want....

So I went in yesterday to Bicycle Business and put down a deposit on one.

Ironically enough, today when I went to ride my red MTB, it had a flat rear tire (again!!!!!). I think there is definitely something wrong with that wheel that is causing this - that's the 3rd flat in 3 weeks. I'm going to take it into work and beg the guys to look at it, I've lost all confidence in the local bike shop.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I buy a helmet (and gloves)

I had come under a lot of pressure at work to wear a helmet. It's kind of an interesting situation. As I understand it, helmet laws overall are detrimental to public health - because they substantially reduce the number of cyclists. But, for any individual cyclist, wearing a helmet is positive for their health.

So one of my biking friends at work pointed out that as soon as I went off-road, I would fall off, and would need gloves and really, a helmet.

I would never ride a motorcycle without a leather jacket and gloves  (used to get quite hot tooling  round Central Otago in summer), so this kind of made sense.

And then the next night I was out in our cul-de-sac, trying to lift the front wheel. You push down on the bars to compress everything and then pull back sort of. Anyway it was all going well until I inadvertently turned the bars a little as they came up.

It all happened so fast. I've fallen off plenty of motorbikes, and even been in the odd car accident and the thing I always remember is that they seem to happen in slow motion. Not falling off the bike. It was instant. One minute up, the next a heap on the road.

I've actually always prided myself on my ability to fall over tidily. Years ago I did Judo for a term or two and the first thing they teach you is how to fall without hurting yourself - that was about as far as I got - so not a lot of use offensively. And I've never been hurt seriously falling off motorbikes either.

I managed to roll and avoid hitting my head on the road this time too. But I lost some skin off one hand, and I must admit I was a bit shaken by the whole thing. Partly because of how fast it happened, I didn't feel at all in control. I was thinking how stupid it would be to have banged my head badly at walking pace in my own street - and I felt it could easily have happened.

I've now bought a helmet - the modern ones actually aren't that bad either to look at or wear. And I've worn it since.

The gloves I got from a great shop in Dunedin, where they were very helpful and knowledgeable, and had a good range of bikes and accessories. They have gel pads on the inner part, to stop your fingers getting numb. But the best part is that the index fingers have little wires embedded so that you can use your iPhone without taking the gloves off - how cool is that. I intend to do mini reviews of equipment I buy, but unfortunately in this case I don't know the details of what I actually bought.

Another problem

The bike shop replaced both tubes.

While I was picking it up, I took the opportunity to ask what sort of bike I own (seemed like something I should know).

It turns out to be a 26" Mountain Bike - so there we are. And it's red.

It's definitely got three gears at the front, and 6 or 8 or something at the back, so it's somewhere between an 18 and 24 speed depending on the count.

I rode to and from work a couple of times.

My biking friends at work said how unlucky I had been to get a flat tire - 'that never happens on Mountain Bikes round town', 'I haven't had an MTB puncture in over 2 years, even on tracks', etc etc.

The next morning, the rear tire was flat.

#$%^&*(*&^%         $%^&*(*&^%

I loaded it into the ever reliable Jazz (never had a puncture), and took it the bike shop where we had a terse conversation.

Monday, April 21, 2014

First problem

Getting to and from work was fine.

It only took about 10 minutes each way, and was no problem.

I can't believe how many people told me off for not wearing a helmet! We never wore them when I learnt to ride, I think they look geeky, I don't even own one. It all seems a bit unnecessary for a ten minute commute.

In the morning I went to ride to work and the rear tire was completely flat - after one ride.

I'm assuming that since the tires and tubes were the original ones, after 5 years of non-use the tubes must have perished or something.

So, discovered that my bike will fit into my Honda Jazz! What an amazing little car that is. With the back seats down and the passenger seat forward, the bike just drops in.

I will ask the bike shop to replace both tubes in order to be sure (fateful words).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Start

Hi, I'm John.

I bought a bike about 5 years ago, rode it around the block a couple of times and then left it in the garage.

When I grew up in Dunedin most kids didn't have bikes because it is quite hilly, although I did learn to ride on friends' bikes.

All in all, I've probably spent less than 20 hours riding.

But now I've decided to give it a serious go, and there are several reasons.

This year I reached the same age as my father was when he died. Intellectually I know that people are different, and the fact that he smoked (while I stopped 15 years ago) makes a big difference, but still it feels a bit ominous.

After always being a skinny kid, I've steadily put on weight (especially since I stopped smoking), and nothing I've tried seems to help. At various times, I've cut out carbs, meat, and even alcohol (worst 24 hours of my life). At the moment I'm floating around 92kg, which is too high.

Mr Money Mustache says everyone should own (and use) a bike in this brilliant post.

We had a bike week at work that seemed like a lot of fun - here is an article about it.


I went to the local bike shop and they came around and sorted out my bike so I can use it to ride to work, which is my immediate objective. Work is only 2 1/2 km away so that should be achievable. Also, I looked up on Google Map's excellent bike route finder and discovered a way to go that avoids some very busy roads, using a track that I didn't even know existed.