Sunday 28 February 2010

Much better photos than I will ever take

The blue and red. Gives me something to aim for.

Saturday 27 February 2010

Red light jumping clown

I hate cyclists that jump red lights. If you want to get into town faster, pedal faster. Work harder. Work up a sweat. Gumbies.

What really annoyed me about the clown in this clip is that not only did he jump the light, he then meandered down the hill comparatively slowly, meaning he held me up. I normally do 50+ down this hill. He was pedalling, and I was coasting with the brakes on. I couldn't overtake due to cars coming up from behind, so I had to sit on his light-jumping tail and quietly fume.

To cap it off, he blasted through a cross walk and came close to wiping out a pedestrian. What a twat. Finally, the last car went past, and I tromped it and went smoking past.

I'm careful never to be nasty to people like this on the road, because you never know when you will meet them again. I caught two red lights after crossing the bridge, and at the 2nd one, he pulled up next to me. The best thing to do is just grin and bear it...... and possibly keep riding when you see one jump a light and get taken out by a bus.

Friday 26 February 2010

Garrett made minister for geckos

A gecko before Garrett's "promotion".

After - "Aaaaah - fuck! - I'm on fire!"

Does roasted gecko really taste like chicken?

After today's pathetic behaviour, does Rudd smell of chicken?

Die, hubbards, die

Compared to some, I am a hubbard (as in Old Mother Hubbard). Even so, I still manage to over take about 10 times more often than I am overtaken. Not bad for an old fart.

I left town bang on 5pm the other night. So did about 30 other cyclists, which meant I rode home in the biggest pack yet. The 1750 might have the pace, but we had the numbers. Due to traffic light changes etc, the pack split and the front third got away whilst the rear two thirds (including me) was left behind.

I caught the front group on Lilyfield Rd at the lights. It was a really good old fashioned traffic jam, with bikes mixed in with cars turning left. When the lights went green, mayhem ensued. Of course the sluggish ones were all at the front, with the speedy ones chafing at the bit at the rear.

The bike lane is only one bike wide, so overtaking is out of the question if there are cars coming up behind you. You just have to sit on the tail of the hubbards and wait for the traffic to clear. It seemed like an eternity waiting for the cars to get out the way - I was constantly looking over my shoulder to see if the next car was going to be the last car, when thankfully the bloke behind me called that it was, and off I went. And from that point, it was on for young and old.

I divide cyclists into three groups - those that accelerate on hills, those that hold a constant speed, and those that change down and grind away in the granny gears. Even though my legs had been hurting all day, it was amazing how the pain vanished as soon as they were presented with a challenge. The challenge was simple - take out the hubbards - and that's what they did. With gusto. And I didn't even have to get out of the saddle to do it - notice that the camera doesn't wobble violently from side to side, which is what happens when you stand up and go for it.

I was rather cooked when I got home. I was thinking of collapsing on the couch and going to sleep when I opened the fridge door and found the sweet nectar of the Gods - a bottle of Coke. Aaaaaah.


Why is it that when you provide people with acres of footpath to stand on, out of thousands of people, two cock-eyed idiots will choose to stand right at the very spot where lots of bikes are making the transition from road to path?

The way we get from road to path is via what I call "pram ramps" - call them what you like, they are ramps cut into the kerb that allow you to go from one grade to another without having to leap like a salmon. There aren't a lot of them around, so bikes are funneled into them and when there are a lot of you, there is an urge to get through the pinch point as rapidly as possible so that your fellow cyclists can zip through as well before the lights change.

All was well, apart from these two idiots standing right in the very spot where cyclists disgorge onto the Pyrmont Bridge. One of them gave me a look that said, "I know I am standing in a stupid spot, but I don't care". I should have run over his foot.

Why we have bells

In order to be road legal, bikes are supposed to have a bell. Many people remove them, thinking that the tinny tinkle of a bell is useless in traffic - no driver will ever hear it. And they are right - but wrong when it comes to riding on shared paths. Although more and more pedestrians are wandering around like dazed deaf-mutes thanks to the iPods, some are still capable of hearing a bicycle bell as I come flying up behind them, looking for a way past.

In the 10 second clip below, I come up behind a trio of numpties - with dogs - and a cyclist with no bell. She tries to find a way through the gaggle of moronitude, but finds herself stuck until I start rattling away on the bell on my handlebars. As soon as they hear that magic sound, the gagglers part like the Red Sea did for Moses, and both of us cycle through.

You can of course substitute a bell for a polite but loud, "Passing on your right", but the bell seems to work better. I've had to put up with being told that I am gay for hanging onto the bell, but I don't care. It could be painted pink and covered in flowers for all I care - if it works, I am keeping it.

There are of course those that turn their iPods up so loudly, I can hear the music from 10 feet away as I approach. With those critters, I think a tazer is the appropriate solution.

Friday photos

For once, I dragged myself out of bed before the sun came up and hit the road not long after. It was beautiful - no breeze, 18 degrees and hardly a car on the road.

On Golden Pond. If the water was dead flat, like a mirror, this would have been even more spectacular.

When I got to the rowing sheds, I noticed that some of the rowers were warming up out on the pontoon on stationary bikes. Two of them were even smarter - they cycled to the sheds, getting their warm up on the way, rather than sitting half-dazed in a car for the journey.

The way home - a whole line of Police cars were parked under the ANZAC bridge, along with an ambulance "special operations" vehicle. I saw that vehicle on the way to work, towing a trailer with an ambulance motorbike on it. When I think of special operations, I think of commandos doing a HALO jump from 30,000 feet and spending the evening slitting throats and blowing things up. I guess the ambulance service has a different view of these things.

And that was it. Bloody camera battery went flat.

Thursday photos

I was rather taken by the boots and "back pack" this lady was wearing. Very interesting, and out of the ordinary. Not sure what you'd carry on a commute in a back pack like that.

This is not a deliberately artistic shot - this is me pressing the shutter button at the wrong moment. But it worked out well.

Diesel spill in town - that's a fire truck and police car at the top of the rise on the left, and there was a cop in front of me stopping traffic. The brown smear down the street is dirt that has been piled onto the diesel to soak it up. This is the second spill I've seen in a few months - drivers overfill their tank, and at the first sign of a hill and a bit of acceleration, out it comes. The pedestrians who had walked through the spill had left oily shoe prints on the paths in all directions. I'm pretty careful about that, as diesel on granite footpaths is deadly slippery. Great way to twist a knee and end up in surgery.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Wednesday photos

Damned camera. There were bikes everywhere, but this shot doesn't do them justice.

Trust a council to put up a completely useless sign. I have gone past this sign for nearly 5 years now, and only noticed it last week - the council erected it parallel to the path (so that it faces some shrubbery along a motorway) rather than perpendicular - so that people might actually be able to read it.

Our council is little better - they put up a sign, then put up another one directly in front of it to obscure the first sign.

Tuesday 23 February 2010


No photos today. Too flaming hot. Well, not as in hot-hot-hot; I doubt the temperature got over 30. The problem was that it didn't get under 24 last night, which meant those of us with broken air conditioners baked through the twilight hours. When you wake up hot, you don't want to put the pedal to the metal and arrive at work even hotter.

So I went in at maximum-hubbard speed today, which is about 30% slower than usual. I went just fast enough to get a cooling breeze in my face, but not fast enough to work up a sweat.

It seemed to work, although the lack of blood pounding through my veins for 40 minutes left me feeling flat and useless all day. I currently feel wrecked, and I haven't done any exercise of note.

This is gold

I just love the "This is Sparta" warning sign in this post.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Ambulance chasing

Normally, I get quite irate when I see a vehicle parked in the bike lane. And then there are times when I have to make exceptions. I was following this cyclist, and could see that they were making ready to move out of the bike lane and into the car lane, meaning there was something parked up ahead. The cyclist was pretty switched on - they had noticed it a long way ahead, and were making plans well before we got to the obstruction (unlike the idiot truck driver that almost hit Abbott during the week).

My annoyance evaporated when I found that the parked vehicle was an ambulance - although it was sitting there without any flashing lights. Not even the hazard lights were blinking. I can understand not having the siren wailing, but if you are going to obstruct traffic, at least flick on the hazards.

About 5 seconds after going around the ambulance, this twit in the little silver car hooned around both of us like there was no tomorrow. You'd think that seeing an ambulance would cause you to slow down and think. Nope. The way that idiot drove, you may well be looking at their next customer.

Saturday 20 February 2010

My most popular post

Ever since I installed the Feedjit app, I have been noticing that one particular post keeps popping up - this one (and Google is to blame). People are wierd:

Getting the wobbles

An almost crash for another cyclist. The bloke in front of me developed a nasty case of the wobbles as we descended the switchbacks off the ANZAC bridge - bad case of improperly inflated tyres. He realised that too, and pulled over as soon as we got off the bridge to give them a few more pounds.

Aftermath of a crash

It wasn't until I was past this spot that I realised something had gone wrong - the bloke getting out of the car at the corner with a notepad in his hand was clearly about to exchange details with the cyclist. The cyclist was in pain, and as I looked back, I could see that his front wheel was quite bent up.

I was pretty sure that having a 3rd person standing at a bottleneck would do little good, especially as the cyclist was standing up and breathing, so I kept on going. Gawd knows what happened - the cyclist might have tried to cross on the red, only to find that cars coming from the left had a green arrow, resulting in splat. I don't know - this is all speculation.

Water, water everywhere

I decided to take the long and winding road home on Friday, even though my legs were absolutely killing me. For the first time in ages, I was getting cramps during the ride. I think this was due to a fire drill during the week - although walking down 25 flights of stairs is not strenuous, if you aren't used to it and you're riding 10 times a week, the combination can be nasty.

I was going this way and that, zigging and zagging when I saw a police car where I would not expect to normally see one. So I followed it, and found this - a burst water main. There were lots of plumbing trucks parked in the street to the left - whether they were responsible for causing this mess or cleaning it up, I will never know.

This video is about a minute long - it's just me riding up and down the street with the water rushing past. It was deep enough near the burst for me to get wet feet when I rode through the torrent. Good thing it was Friday, and my shoes have all weekend to dry out.

Friday photos

This is what you get when you try to photograph a rower whilst in motion. A tree, with a rower behind the tree. Some might say that you should stop when you want to take a photo, but what's the point of that? You might end up with a very interesting photo of a tree. Or maybe not.

I did slow down enough to eventually photograph the rower. What a lovely morning it was for a quiet scull around the Bay.

One thing our intersections lack is enough poles in the right places to lean against.

This chap had the most amazing muscle definition in his legs. Unfortunately, his legs were rotating so quickly, the photo has come out with a slight blur. His lumpy bits just don't show up clearly enough.

What better way to while away your time at a red light than reading the newspaper. Unfortunately, dopey here was so entranced by the paper, he failed to notice the light going green.

It's a nasty thing to say, but...

So many tax officers, so few aircraft.

Sometimes, I just can't help myself.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Afternoon idiot

There's nothing quite like a BMW driver in a hurry to spoil your whole day. Here I am, departing the Bay Run and heading up a "spoke" road that has a bike lane painted down the side. The council, in their infinite wisdom, have painted the bike lane a bit too wide - the result is that cars going towards Five Dock are always cutting into the bike lane. On some days, they cut in enough to send a shiver down your spine.

Thankfully, I'm pretty attuned to this sort of thing, so when I saw two cars coming towards me near the middle of the road, and heard a bellowing exhaust note coming up behind me, I figured something unpleasant was about to happen, so I started drifting towards the kerb to give the fuckface behind me some room. He/she could have taken the safe option and simply slowed down and waited, but they decided to take the fuckface option and overtake when it wasn't safe to do so. It's not like their vehicle lacked the power to accelerate away quickly after waiting a second or two behind me.

The numberplate seems to start with "NEW", presumably denoting a newly acquired BMW. If they keep driving it this way, it's going to end up inserted into the rear of a bus, or wrapped around a power pole. It's mindless jerks like this that can make life on the roads so thoroughly unpleasant at times.

First idiot of the morning

I left earlier this morning than usual, hoping to be on the road before all the Mad Mums on the school run hopped in their cars. Instead of frazzled, aggressive women, I got an addled male that couldn't make up his mind - or couldn't work out how to get his gearbox into first.

At the very start of this clip, I'm approaching a red light. And then it goes green. The cars on the other side of the intersection are turning right, so they have to give way to me. Most of the time, they do.

As soon as I see the light go green, I punch it - although I can't hit it too hard as there is a big depression for a drain across the intersection, and there is a limit to how hard a bike can smack into it.

So I'm accelerating towards a line of traffic that is not moving - good. The first car is going to wait for me to pass, as he should. But then I think the car behind him beeped at him, so just as I am entering the intersection, he decides to turn. Just like Tony Abbott did this morning, I uttered the F word. And quite loudly. And I shook my fist in impotent fury at the departing idiot.

How did Starbucks lose $200m in Australia?

From the Australian today:

..the chain, which has accumulated losses of $204m in Australia since opening its first store here in 2000..
$204 million in accumulated losses. My gawd. They used to have 64 stores, and they have been operating since 2000. Assuming all stores opened at the same time in 2000 (a silly assumption, but it makes the maths easier), each store has lost $319,000 per year, or $873 for every single day of the year.

It would be interesting to know how many coffees a Starbucks sells per day. If they sold 400 cups per day, they would have lost $2.20 per cup. I pay $3 at my local cafe, and they make a profit. They must be making a profit, as they have been in business for years, and they aren't backed by a huge conglomerate. Starbucks sells expensive coffee, but how can you sell horribly overpriced muck and still lose that much per cup?

This tells me one thing - we have an excellent coffee culture in Australia. If we can drive Starbucks out of the market, it simply proves how good the average cafe is around here.

Thursday photos

I discovered something new today which should have been completely bloody obvious - that trailing behind hubbards can do wonders for you when attacking the ANZAC bridge. I tagged along behind these two for a kilometre or so - it's not that they were slow, more that they were taking it easy as they chatted about "scanning the audit logs" and other Dilbert subjects.

I was happy to stay behind them as my legs were shot after racing home last night. However, the lack of activity soon got to me, and I overtook them on the approaches to the bridge. I then gave it the welly, and before I could say "attack", I was blasting up the slope at 25% above my normal speed. I was cooking with gas. For a moment, I actually felt like a speedy cyclist, leaving everyone trailing in my wake.

The only bloke I couldn't overtake was this fellow - and he was lugging a kid with him. He was very fit and very fast. Very envious, was I.

Then there was the trip home. I occasionally sit behind someone who makes an utter meal of the uphill climb onto the ANZAC bridge. They get out of the saddle, puffing and pushing and really not getting anywhere fast. It's nice to reach a level of strength and fitness where you can overtake these chaps whilst sitting down and not really pushing the edge of the envelope.

I'm not sure what this was - perhaps an ad being shot? There was a young kid holding a folio of some sort, and a woman was bellowing at him, "Stand up straight like your mother told you to!" I was a long way past before I though to turn around and grab a snap. Poor little tyke.

A trail of bikes on the way home, heading for the Pyrmont Bridge. I tried to photograph the line of bikes as we came around the curve, so that you could see them stretching off into the distance. Didn't seem to work.

Wednesday 17 February 2010


Every now and then, the Pyrmont Bridge swings open to let a boat through. It's not bad when it happens in say the middle of the afternoon, but it was bloody pandemonium when it opened during rush hour this evening. I can normally cruise across the bridge at a happy and steady 20km/h - I was reduced to doing 5km/h once this lot started moving. I was starting to feel like a motorist stuck on the Gladesville Bridge....

One side effect is that it created a large cluster of cyclists; and the cluster created mayhem when the light went green. The very intelligent Council, in an effort to encourage cycling, has only installed two "pram ramps" at this corner, so bike are funneled into two rather narrow slots as they leave the pavement. There's always a rush to get up front, and it's amazing that I've never seen a multi-bike prang at this corner.

The large number of cyclists meant that there was plenty of competition on the ride home. I thought I was doing well, getting to the front of the pack when two blokes blasted past me like I was standing still. I usually find that with the fitter riders, I am only 1-3km/h slower. That means if I extend myself, I can hang onto them. Not this particular pair - they went past me (uphill) a good 10km/h more rapidly. All I could do was watch them enviously as they sped off into the sunset.

The great thing about this sort of competitive riding is that it stretches you - I am utterly buggered right now, and ready for bed; but I know that I would not have given it my all if I wasn't aiming to beat the crowd. You have to stretch yourself in order to advance. A bit of healthy competition is a good thing.

That's it. Zzzzzzzzzz.

Thought for the day

Not long ago, the Mad Monk (Tony Abbott) made some statements regarding how he would advise his daughters in regard to losing their virginity.

Every Mick-bashing goose in the country immediately jumped all over Abbott with comments like "get your rosaries off my ovaries".

Journalists sought comments from feminists far and wide, plus their fellow travellers.

As far as I know, none bothered to ask a single Muslim what their thoughts were on the matter.

I'd love to know what Sheikh "cat meat" would have to say about his daughters rooting any bloke they choose before getting married. Probably something along the lines of "honour killing" I'd guess.

For all the fuss and bother about "social conservatism", Abbott really isn't that conservative compared to some groups that the leftie luvvies have imported in recent years. Isn't it funny that the lefties, who are all for sexual liberation, have helped to import the most misogynist immigrants you can imagine.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Nice place to hide

I hit the Pyrmont Bridge in peak hour tonight, and it was bloody chaos. I tagged along behind another bloke, letting him pick the path through the crowds. He decided to duck through an alcove off to the side, and who happened to be lurking in there but....

...two of the council rangers who are supposed to keep order on the bridge at times like this. It was nice and cool and shady in that alcove - and out of the way. Much nicer than being out in the sun telling cyclists to slow down and behave.


I was so intrigued by the plate on this Pulsar that I swung the camera around to try and capture it. BLOO5T. Bloost? Is he trying to say "boost", but without the "L"? Are we to imagine that this thing is supercharged?

P platers. Sheesh.

ASW055 has trouble with Give Way signs

I sometimes take a short cut through the back streets of Lilyfield. That means ducking and weaving through the alley ways. I've done this a few dozen times, and today was the first time I encountered a car.

It was obviously the first time this bloke in ASW 055 had ever seen another vehicle, as he blew straight through the Give Way sign on my right. As I approached the corner, I saw him coming, and immediately thought, "He's not stopping. He's not even slowing down". So I slowed almost to a stop, having no desire to end up as a hood ornament. When mass is in contention, cars always win.

I don't know if this idiot saw me or not, but he took off as quick as he could. Lucky for him that no one decided to exit their garage as he went tearing down the lane.


"CAZ P" - knob spanner of the day

I'd like to say a big hello to CAZ P, the driver of a Mercedes ML something-or-other. Caz, or Catherine, was obviously driving one or more of her offspring to school, and was in a hurry.

That is the only reason why Caz would have tailgated me aggressively, and then tried to pass me at a red light by going into the right turn only lane. Idiot.

The irony is that once we parted company, with Caz taking the short way and me the long way, we met again 5 minutes later. Caz was stuck in a traffic jam leading onto the City West Link, whilst I went zipping past on the bike path.

All that aggression and stupidity was for nothing. Since you can afford a nice car, Caz, I suggest you spend some money on a fucking driving course and learn how to drive properly. You parboiled knob with cheese on top. Or buy your son a bicycle and tell him to ride to school. Then you could see how you feel about your precious mixing it up with fucking morons like yourself.

Note to self - get up much earlier from now on and ride to work before the mums on the school run hit the roads. Commuting was so restful - up until the day school holidays ended. It's like someone twisted the aggro dial from 3 up to 11.

Tuesday photos

Actually, these are Monday and Tuesday photos. I was too stuffed to blog last night.

This bloke appears to be lugging his dry cleaning around with him. I imagine that would flap around pretty badly at speed.

The footwear on this bloke caught my eye - he seemed to be wearing something akin to bathroom slippers.

All I can say about this bloke is, "Sorry, I didn't mean to run into you - I wasn't expecting you to stop on the bend on the pedestrian bridge." He was a foot-dropper; that is, as he went around the horribly tight bend on the Victoria Rd bridge (supposedly one of the worst cycling black spots in Sydney), he dropped his foot for balance and stopped. I was right on his tail, and went into him - not fast, but enough to cause a nice traffic jam of pedestrians and cyclists. I think I might have bent my rear derailleur in the process, as low gear no longer works.

Julia Gillard would have something to say to this young lady. She had a tattoo on every appendage. The nice blond lady next to me was so taken by it all, she was pointing the tatts out to the bloke on the other side of me and mouthing silent words at him. Her right arm was a mass of ink.

I spent the entire light change trying to read the verse on the back of her leg. Sorry, I wasn't close enough to make any of it out, and the photo was no help either. Although she was on a single speed BMX type bike, she took off like a bat out of hell.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Thank you Julia Gillard, for your wonderful advice

Most Australians would be familiar with Tony Abbott's comments on virginity, and the response of the Deputy PM, Julia Gillard:

Mr Abbott has in the past been seen as having an image problem with women over his conservative views on issues such as abortion, and Ms Gillard says he should not be dishing out advice to women.

"These comments will confirm the worst fears of Australian women about Tony Abbott," she said.

"Australian women want to make their own choices and they don't want to be lectured to by Mr Abbott."

My response:

Dear Ms Gillard

Thank you for telling the women of Australia that they shouldn't listen to that old Catholic, Tony Abbott, in matters regarding who they sleep with, and the circumstances in which they sleep with them.

When I was a young male, I found the whole "virginity is precious" concept to be an utter bore. I wasted days - days - charming the pants off young virgins. I tell you, the whole deflowering process is an utter bore when it comes to well educated and nicely brought-up middle class ladies. The dinners. The movies. The dancing. The snuggling and nuzzling of the ear and the whisperings of sweet nothings. Yes, back in those days, women did take their virginity seriously, and it was sold expensively. Much sweat and tears went into producing a bit of blood.

And once you'd rooted them - sheesh! They attached themselves like limpet mines, becoming impossible to shake off. They had this silly notion that sex and love went together, which led to all sorts of nasty emotional entanglements. I was reduced to jumping over the back fence to get away from some of them.

Yes, so much better if we don't teach our daughters about faith, chastity, monogamy and all that other rot. Ideas such as those get in the way a relatively straightforward spreading of the legs. Life would have been so much easier as a teenager if chicks had just put out and banged like dunny doors. Then I could have gotten on with the really important things in life, like playing cricket and going to the pub with the boys.

I look forward to you putting out a statement endorsing these ideas, and as Minister for Education, ensuring that they are taught in all high schools.

Kind regards


A mexican wave where you don't get the boot

I gave up going to the cricket some years ago after the Fun Nazis took over. What a joy it was therefore to see an event where the sportsmen take part in a wave as they do a lap - around the 50 second mark.

Six Day Races in Copenhagen from Copenhagenize on Vimeo.

It sounds like they also serve proper beer at these events, and real food, and they play music and expect you to have fun and join in.

"Dresden" Garrett

I suggest we start calling him "Dresden", because he is going to be responsible for burning down more homes than Bomber Harris.

Friday 12 February 2010

Why do we pay public servants $450,000?

There has been a bit of an outcry over this:

NBN CEO Mike Quigley didn't even bother Googling Labor functionary Mike Kaiser before financially elevating him from Anna Bligh's chief of staff to $450,000 a year as NBN's PR man.

Having worked in the public sector, and been around public servants in the upper SES pay bands, I understand quite well the rationales for paying big bucks to certain public servants. The usual mantra is that we need to offer equivalent rates of pay to the private sector to attract talented individuals from the private sector.

That's all well and good in theory, but over the years, I didn't see a flood of private sector types into the agencies that I was working for. It was either a trickle, or nothing at all. What tended to happen is that if one department managed to get some highly paid positions created, the outcome was that lesser-paid public servants from other departments queued up for the jobs. The private sector people usually didn't get a look in, as they lacked the essential public sector experience!

If someone says that they needed to pay $450,000 for a government relations position in order to make it attractive to private sector types, my question is this - why did the job go to someone who has never worked in the private sector? Why was there not a shortlist of private sector candidates?

In a similar vein, I am sure the Red Cross used that same thinking when deciding to pay their Australian CEO almost half a million dollars per year. Did they get a person with CEO experience in the private sector? No. They got a washed up ex-Federal politician with little if any private sector experience.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Knob-jockey of the day

I'd like to say hello to my knob-jockey of the day - the driver of BGY71U. There I am, tonking down the street towards a T-junction with my right arm outstretched indicating that I am turning right. I had heard this character coming up behind me - he had the typical "exhaust the size of a baked bean can" appendage on his car, and I had an inkling that he'd be less than civil as a result.

Yep, my instinct was right. He simply cut right in front of me and turned left, even though I was indicating that I was going right.

Maybe he'll do that same trick in front of a truck one day. Back in the day - late 1980s that is - I got to fang around in one of these - a Mack truck. Not for long mind you, and I wouldn't really call it "fanging". I did discover though that if you blew the air horn when passing a herd of cows, they'd all lift their tails, poo explosively and run away. I also discovered that cow farmers did not find that amusing.

Have a look a the front end of this baby. When I was given my first spin in one of these, my instructor warned me that not long before, a Commodore had cut in front of one as the Mack was pulling up at a red light. The Commodore ended up being half its normal length, with the rear axle somewhere in the back seat and the bumper of the Mack resting on the head of the driver (who was crushed).

Mastering the art of the gear change in one of these was something that took a while. I was pretty good with the crash gearbox in the F1 6x6 (pictured below), but the gearbox on the Mack was something else.

By the way, the photo of that F1 was taken in Vietnam in 1970 (not by me - I was still in nappies back then). Just to give you an idea of how long the military keeps stuff, I drove one of these for the last time in 1990 (I think).

Back to the Mack. If my memory is still working, it had a line on the tacho for gear changing. You'd double-de-clutch, and whilst in neutral, you'd have to wait for the revs to drop to that line before pressing the clutch again and going into the next gear. That was the same going up and going down. I never gained enough experience in the driver's seat to do it by ear - I had to watch that dial like a hawk and rely on it for my changes. If you tried too soon, or left it too late, you'd never catch the gear you wanted. Such was life when we were young.

I seem to have drifted off thread somewhat. Ah well, stuff happens.

Why are ute drivers so impatient?

Another day, another potential collision with a ute driven by an idiot. I know that I like to have a go at taxi drivers from time to time, but I swear, ute drivers are 10 times worse. I read the other day that tradesmen are showing up much more often in the crash and speeding statistics than their percentage of the population would normally suggest. Something to do with them driving long distances to and from jobs, and speeding and falling asleep at the wheel. I can believe it. The bastards never, ever stop for me at roundabouts or traffic lights. They seem to think that just because Australia is in love with shows like Renovation Rescue, that ever other bastard on the road should give way to them.

Anyway, here I am doing a bit of overtaking. We're in a 50km/h zone, which means that there is not a huge difference in the speed between someone on a bike and a car travelling at the speed limit. On some stretches of this bit of road, I travel at the speed limit - 50km/h.

So I wait for the car coming up behind us to pass, then I look over the shoulder and see that the next car coming up is way back at the bend - a good hundred metres or more away. I know that at the speed we are travelling, I have plenty of time to pass and get back in.

Or so I should have. I get past in a few seconds, and next thing you know, I've got a horn-honking ute up my arse. He must have been travelling in order to get on my clacker that quickly.

I just wish some of these pricks would have a suck on an acetylene bottle and then go out for a smoke.

Malicious, useless or stupid?

This clip is from a few days ago, when I took a detour and had a look around Abbotsford. There I was, ambling along in the bike lane (not much of a lane really - more of a collection of busted up tarmac and pot holes bounded by a white line) when I see a bus coming towards me. I can also hear a car coming up behind me.

Well, bugger me if the driver of the car decides to pass me (they had a tonne of room) and then has a bad case of the chicken guts when they see the bus coming and they go left hand down into my tiny bit of mangled and battered tar.

For crying out loud, if you require 9 feet of separation between yourself and oncoming traffic, it really is time for you to give driving away and to start taking public transport. This is Sydney. If you haven't lost a wing mirror to a bus or a taxi, then you really aren't trying hard enough.

I had a small thought afterwards that maybe the driver was being malicious and was trying to run me off the road or scare me, but as their actions were not accompanied by the usual horn honking and arm waving and incoherent swearing, I think they were more useless than nasty.

Still, it's small consolation if you get knocked over anyway. Whether the driver was being incompetent or idiotic, hitting the concrete is still going to hurt in the same way.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Tuesday photos

Is it Tuesday already? Where is Friday? I need a day off already.

Weather was much better today, and all the fair-weather cyclist hordes came out again after hiding indoors from a bit of rain on Monday. Harden the fuck up, people.

Spent a bit of time chasing this bloke. From the angle of his arms, you can see he was working pretty hard. Either that, or his bike geometry is seriously messed up.

He passed lots of people, with me trailing in his wake. He was in a hurry to get somewhere. Zipping along behind him with one hand steering the bike and the other waving a camera around was not that easy.

Woops, had to duck back in to avoid a head on collision.

Note the head down position - a sign of being nicely puffed after a short, sharp climb.

That bloke took off and left me behind after we departed the bridge, so I sat behind this fellow for a few blocks. I was rather taken with his Brooks saddle - I think this is the first real one that I have seen.

The chaos that is a traffic light change at Sussex st when things are busy. Bikes going in all directions, all jostling for position and ducking and weaving through the pedestrians.

Not all car drivers are bike-hating loons. Next time you are in your car, keep an eye out for how many have a bike rack on the rear or on the roof. After spotting this car, I started keeping count, and saw three in just a few blocks. It's worth remembering that an awful lot of motorists are cyclists, and that almost all adult cyclists are motorists.

Here endeth the day.