Monday 29 July 2013

Is a bike fitting worth it?

When I bought my bike many years ago, I spent a few hours in the shop getting it properly fitted. The blokes doing the fitting took into account my size, flexibility etc etc. They did a pretty good job - once my arse had adjusted to the seat, I was comfortable and able to deliver power through the pedals.

All that changed a few weeks ago when I bought a new saddle. Although I got it fitted in a bike shop, it was simply screwed on rather than "fitted". Within 10 minutes of leaving the shop, I was in serious discomfort. By the time I got home, the discomfort had turned into a lot of pain. I immediately sought out some tools, and dropped the saddle. After a short test ride, I dropped it some more (the new saddle was significantly taller than the old one).

A week later, I hurt all over. I had achilles problems in one ankle, burning pain in my opposite knee, terrible hamstring pains and I couldn't ride for more than 5 minutes without having to stand up on the pedals and stretch. It was so bad, I had to take a week off to recover.

After the week off, I had another go. Things were still bad, so I booked myself in for a new bike fitting. By the end of the week, the pain had travelled further up and I was getting killer, knockout headaches.

The fitting took 3 hours and ended up setting me back over $400 (once some new parts were included).


However, the fitter made quite a few adjustments, and they all worked. I've done another week on the bike, and all the pain has disappeared. During the fitting, it was clear that the positioning of the new saddle had bent me seriously out of shape. It was way too far forward, and I had dropped it too much to compensate for the poor shop fitting. I was unable to develop power because my legs weren't pushing in the right direction. One leg was able to bend nearly 15 degrees further than the other - a sign of hamstring lock up. Being tight on one side was twisting everything around, which produced the headaches. 

Because my saddle was too far forward, me knees were too far forward, and that led to knee pain. Orthotics were fitted into my shoes, allowing more power to be transferred to the pedals. Because I was too low, my legs weren't extending far enough at the bottom of each stroke, leading to a huge loss of power.

So yes, it was expensive. But bloody hell - it was worth it. I reckon  the way I was going, I would have spent more on physio fees if I hadn't gotten the bike setup properly.

I wonder how many people buy a bike, go for a ride, find that it hurts a lot due to a bad setup and then park in the garage and never ride it again? I wouldn't think of driving a car without adjusting the seat settings into the most comfortable and ergonomic position - but lots of people buy cheap bikes from shops that have no idea of how to use a plumb bob to check your knee position, or to use caliper thingys to check the angle of your knee extension at the bottom of your pedal stroke.

As they say - you gets what you pays for.

Sunday 21 July 2013


I thought about doing a bit of photoshopping here with a Collingwood jumper, but couldn't e bothered.


Haven't posted one of these for a while.


The Oxford Tavern is changing for the worse.

Where does the SMH get its facts from?

Paul McGeogh wrote a story today titled The race question that won't go away

In it, he states, "But there's a second-tier scandal in the suggestion in these two Florida cases that the ''stand your ground'' defence is more readily available to whites than to blacks."

Actually, Blacks benefit from Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law at disproportionate rate.

"Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.

But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times.  Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white.

African Americans used “Stand Your Ground” defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, which was listed at 16.6 percent in 2012."

Never let the facts get in the way of an emotive article.

More cooking stuff

One good thing about riding all week is that you can pretty much eat what you want - unless you are aiming to become a stick insect. I have no intention of turning into a stick insect, so I happily cook and eat the sort of stuff that the health Nazis regularly warn will turn us all into morbidly obese muffinmen.

This week's attempt was Pear and almond skillet cake.


  • It's excellent - a really tasty cake (albeit a bit sweet for my liking). I love the crunchiness of the slivered almonds. 
  • It was a cinch to make - minimum mixing and mess
  • Only issue I had with it was that it took 45 minutes in my stupid oven rather than the recommended 15-20. However, part of that might have been caused by me using a smaller frying pan than recommended, leading to a deeper cake
  • It almost bubbled over the lip of the pan - I hadn't counted on it rising so much
I'll definitely be making this again.


Had a go with a cheap smoker last night - scroll to the 9 minute mark to see how to do it. Yes, it actually worked, and I am going to do it some more.

Where we deviated from Jamie:

  • We didn't have hot coals ready, so we threw some firelighters and charcoal beads into the bucket, lit them up and waited until they got hot
  • Don't use hexamine based firelighters - they taint the smoke
  • Used a packet of hickory chips bought from the shop
  • Used a cake rack instead of sticks to hold the smoked meat
  • Put an old fashioned metal fly cover over the top, and then topped that with a wet tea towel

Dead easy - the main bit is getting a galvanised bucket from your local hardware store. 

Monday 15 July 2013

New power law of cooking

"The volume of chocolate pudding mix that makes it into the oven is inverse to the number of young kids helping in the kitchen".

The kids would eat an entire batch of chocolate self-saucing pudding mix raw if I let them.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Sexist gingerbread

The kids like a bit of gingerbread. I went looking for a recipe this morning. What did I find?

Gingerbread people.


Friday 12 July 2013


Many years ago, I visited Italy (along with a lot of other European countries). It was well before the age of ATMs being everywhere, the Euro and the ability to make cash withdrawals from an ATM overseas. We're talking the dark ages. Ancient history. The early 1990s.

This meant I had to visit a bank every week or so to either change currency, exchange travelers cheques or fill out a lot of forms to withdraw cash. Italy in particular had some weird banking laws that meant you had to go into a bank to do a lot of the things that you can do at a kiosk or ATM elsewhere.

I hated doing that with a passion. Because Italians in Italy don't queue. Especially in banks.

It was a massive culture shock for me. Over here, as in most western countries, you walk into a bank and there is one of those portable barrier thingys showing where to line up. Not Italy. You walked in, and immediately joined a massive scrum at the counter. Old women elbowed you in the guts to get ahead. Men just shoulder charged and rammed others aside. It was total chaos. Friday night happy hour at the bar in the most crowded pub in Australia is more cultured, orderly and organised than an Italian bank counter. I wonder if things have changed?

I left Italy being so thankful that we live in a civilised country where people are prepared to queue - to let those that got in line first get served first. People take their place and no one gets to jump ahead. The antithesis of Italy was when I voted at Bondi Beach one year. Like just about everyone else who was voting that day, I'd been for a swim and was lined up to vote in my Speedos and bare feet. The line was long - it snaked right out the door of the Bather's Pavilion. Just behind me was a well known multi-millionaire, also dripping wet and in his bathers. In some countries, he just would have walked to the front of the queue and brazened his way in; or officials would have seen him standing there and come out to lead him to the front. Not here - he just stood there happily like everyone else, waiting his turn to be processed and chatting with those around him in the line.

I love that. I'm so glad that we don't let those with money push in ahead of the less fortunate and less wealthy.

Oh wait........

Wednesday 10 July 2013


I'm reading my way through The Secret Race - a great book on cycling and doping. When I read the preview, I thought it would be pretty boring and I didn't have high hopes. However, it's turned out to be an absolutely gripping book.

It's also got me hankering after some EPO and testosterone. I've been feeling very flat and tired these last few weeks (I'm not getting any younger), and the way the application of these drugs is described, I could really do with some. A can of Coke just doesn't cut it anymore.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Another close call with a numpty

Friday evening in the city is usually a time of madness. The worst traffic of the week. The only place more dangerous for cyclists is around any school at pick up and drop off time - there's nothing like a swarm of mums hyped up on coffee, yelling at kids, gasbagging on the phone and driving 4WDs to put your life in peril.  At least the traffic in town is generally at a standstill. 

So there I was, barreling down a bike lane at a good clip, passing about 1km of cars jammed up nose to tail going nowhere. Up ahead, a gap opens up and a Hilux comes zooming across the road from a side street. However, there is just one problem.

Bonehead in the Hilux thinks that the bike lane is a car lane. He doesn't maneuver into the gap - he blasts through it and makes as if to drive down the bike lane. That made for some interesting evasive tactics on my part as I lent right over and zipped around him. The bloke behind me was just as surprised. Hilux driver seemed to realise his mistake after nearly collecting two hood ornaments - he gave up on his attempt to overtake the stalled traffic via the bike lane and got back into line.

Just writing about it makes my heart beat faster. Far out, it was a close run thing.

Sunday 7 July 2013

A weekend without pork belly is.........what?

Curses. No trip to the butcher this weekend to buy another slab of pork belly. However, I did try something new - a parsnip veloute.


That's pretty much what I thought when I first read the word "veloute". So I looked it up and made it on a whim. Essentially it's soup.

But I didn't want a soup - I wanted something more akin to a mash.

Pretty easy really - peeled and chopped two big parsnips, along with an onion. Threw a big hunk of butter into my cast iron frying pan, got it sizzling, swished the chopped parsnip and onion around on top of the stove for 5 minutes (until I saw a bit of brown here and there) and then threw it into a 180 degree oven for - I have no idea how long. Long enough to cook. And I have no idea if the oven was actually at 180. It could have been 140 or 220 knowing my oven.

After that, threw it in the blender with some cream and blended until it was the right consistency. Not like mash, and not like soup. Firm enough to stand up as a blob on a plate without squidging. How much cream was that? Dunno. Started with an almost full carton and I put some back in the fridge. About that much.

It was amazingly delicious - but you probably need to like parsnip for it to work for you. Then again, even the teens ate it, so it can't have been that bad.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Kill for a coffee

There's an early opening coffee shop on Lilyfield Rd that's a favourite with tradesmen and white van man. It's at the bottom of a nice little hill where I can hit 50km/h (the speed limit) without even trying. fast moving bikes + dopey tradesmen is a bad combination. It's the spot where I am most careful every morning. The potential for being doored is huge.

This morning demonstrated the reason for that. I was rolling down nicely when a ute passed me (doing about 60 in a 50 zone). The driver was braking a bit and swerving here and there - it looked to me like he wanted a coffee, and was looking for the closest possible parking spot to the coffee shop.

Sure enough - we passed the coffee shop without him finding a car space, but at the next intersection, he suddenly charged left across the bike lane (without indicating) and stopped in a no stopping zone at the corner. I was ready for him, so as soon I'd hung back a bit and was able to get around him quite easily.

If I hadn't been looking out for that sort of behaviour, I probably would have gone into the back of the tray full tilt. It was a ute with a flat tray, so that would have been nasty. I smacked a motor bike into the back of a fat-arsed Ford ute many years ago whilst doing circle work in a muddy paddock. It didn't hurt a bit because:

a). I was not doing 50km/h
b). The back of a fat-arsed Ford ute was surprisingly soft and squishy - for metal
c). And most importantly, I was drunk and therefor floppy

Anyway, I'm glad his need for coffee didn't end badly for me.

Monday 1 July 2013

Decisions, decisions

When the weather is like it is right now, I feel like a chick most days. "What should I wear today"? Hmm.

The mornings are easy - lots of clothes, because it is farking freezing. However, it can be as warm as 19 degrees in the afternoon, and being dressed for 6 degrees and riding when it is 19 is a one way trip to heat stroke. The answer that everyone gives is "layers", but there is only so much space in my back pack for storing all the layers that you peel off betwixt morning and evening.

I felt this conundrum mightily this evening - right in the nipples. I went with arm warmers but no jacket - that was fine on the flats and going up hill, but dastardly when descending at speed. I'd get just hot enough on the ascents to get sweaty, and then that would freeze on my skin on the other side of the hill. Thankfully, there aren't that many hills between work and home, and they aren't that big. I could put a vest on, but then I'd be super sweaty going up hill and toasty warm going downhill.

In the end, it's just easier to flip a coin before leaving work.

The safety nazis have taken over

The Silly is running a story called Off limits: 10 places you will never go in Australia.

One of the sites listed is:

Carnac Island
It's just off the coast of Fremantle, but going beyond the beach of Carnac Island requires special permission from the Department of Conservation and Land Management. Anyone arriving by boat and thinking of sneaking inland while no one's looking could be in for a very nasty surprise, however. The island is teeming with tiger snakes. For researchers in highly protective clothing, this is handy for collecting venom for medical research. For an errant daytripper sauntering along in thongs, well, er … good luck.

Having dived with the seals at Carnac, and walked around a bit of the island in my youth, this was a surprise. Yes, we all knew the island had more than its fair share of snakes, which is why we were careful to wear our safety thongs.

The seals were extremely friendly by the way - a delight to dive with. You just don't want to go near them on land.