Saturday 13 June 2009

Ugh. Riding when out of shape is no fun

6 months of sitting in the car have clearly taken their toll. Whilst riding through Olympic Park today, I spied a rather scientific looking collection of gadgetry up a side path, and some Dilberts standing around with clipboards talking to cyclists. I didn't get what it was all about, so on the way back, I stopped for a look.

The Dilberts turned out to be from the Uni of NSW, and they were evaluating bike helmets and percieved risk and speed. I think. They asked me a few questions about my helmet, then measured my weight (eek!) and height before getting out a large set of calipers and measuring my head from various angles. They might have been secret Phrenologists for all I know. They then studied my helmet, evaluating how it was constructed and its size and so on.

Then came the interesting bit. They put a strap through the helmet and asked me to put it on. They then attached a set of handheld scales to the strap and pulled on it from various directions. I think what they were measuring was how much force it took before the helmet started sliding off my head - forwards, backwards and sideways. I was advised to tighten the temple strap a bit - which I did - but otherwise they thought I had it done up nice and tight. When you get flung off a bike (as has happened to me), the last thing you want is the helmet shifting under the G-force and exposing part of your noggin to the road surface/car bonnet/tree etc.

I've seen plenty of people riding around with their straps so loose, it's obvious that the helmet will simply flick clean off their head if they are ever walloped by something. What is the point of wearing a helmet if you aren't going to do it up properly, so that it flings off just when you really, really need it?

People are boneheads. I don't need to prove that to you.

For my troubles, they gave me a $15 voucher. Oh, and they told me that I now weigh over the dreaded ton. Eeek, as I said before. Time to do lots and lots and lots of km.

Before I finished up, they got me to ride up and down a stretch of path where they had some speed measuring devices setup, and asked me to estimate my speed. I thought I was doing 25km/h, but they told me I was doing 27 point something. I think they were collecting data for using in analysis of bike crashes - to get some idea of how cyclists percieve speed.

They are also doing a study of helmets that have been through a crash, to see how the helmet performed on impact. Unfortunately, I threw my crashed helmet out a year ago, so I couldn't help them out.

Their marketing skills sucked, I have to say. They had one badly lettered sign up on the bike path, which I completely failed to see, and the only reason I stopped was because there were other cyclists there before me. When I was there getting my head read, a few more turned up to see what it was all about. The only reason they got any customers is that Olympic Park on a weekend seems to have a large number of altruistic, older cyclists zooming around - the sort of people who will pop in and help out if they see someone who needs it.

Apart from that, I felt like a chick when I went riding today. I spent some time outside observing the weather and thinking, "What shall I wear?" If I had gone at say 8am, the answer would have been simple - every item of cycling clothing that I own. But by 12.30pm, it had warmed up to a lovely 21 degrees, although the sky was full of threatening clouds.

I ended up going with my summer rig, with the addition of an undershirt and nothing more. Within a few kilometres, I was regretting the undershirt, thinking that I was going to start sweating like Henry Rollins at a particularly tough gig. But then the clouds rolled in, and the temp immediately dropped 3 degrees (it's handy having a temperature guage in your bike computer). That was enough for my thighs to get chilled, and I decided to keep the ride short instead of motoring miles out into the western suburbs. I discovered that I have been riding through Harris Park on some of those rides - the scene of Indian-on-Leb bashings recently. I usually go through Harris Park early in the morning, and have noted the large number of Indians playing cricket on the sports grounds. I have never seen a Leb out that way though - I guess they don't get out of bed before noon.

Speaking of which, I was served today by a woggy looking bloke, and he had clearly plucked his eyebrows. What do you think of that?

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