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Bikes and sofas

The past couple of weekends, Marita and I have got on our bikes for a ride. Nothing too fast-paced. Certainly not the hell ride. Not even the slightly-less intimidating heck ride. Probably not even up to the standards of the gosh darn ride.

No, we did a leisurely ride down the Nepean Highway service road to Cheltenham and back, about 12Km all up. The first time we went because I mis-read the NewsDirect web site and thought there was another prized magazine waiting for me there. The second time they actually had it.

On the second run, we also stopped at Freedom and I ordered a new sofa. Finally, the old tattered green sofa I’ve been meaning to replace for about the last four years is on the way out. Its replacement, which I have been covetting for some time, is a shiny new green (different green) more squarish sofa which should arrive in about 6 weeks. It’s called “Portland”, and given the time lag, could in fact be coming from Portland.

(Helena, if you’re reading, I know you told me not to buy a Freedom sofa because yours didn’t last. But this one has a ten year structural guarantee, and I’ve bought fabric protection and arm protectors. So I think it’ll keep me going for a few years, at least until I’m ready to buy something more elaborate and expensive.)

The intention is to keep riding at least once a week, to gain some fitness, though next time I’m hoping we’ll ride somewhere other than Cheltenham.

I figure it’s better to go for a ride with an actual goal in mind, all part of making exercise part of your regular lifestyle, rather than an optional activity. Gradually it’ll be longer distances and faster speeds, I hope.

Things I’ve noticed so far:

  • It had been so long since I’d ridden the bike that it was not only dusty, spiders had settled on parts of it.
  • Marita is on a borrowed bike, and has had to get used to the gears and lock. At one stage she confidently locked the bike to itself.
  • I have a heightened sense of awareness, and am quite possibly driving more defensively, since during time on the bike you’re much more vulnerable and watching to make sure car drivers have seen you and are going to give way where appropriate.
  • In fact, I think I want to get one of those high-visibility safety vests. I may have poked fun at them in the past, but I can see the use, and basic (non-super-styled cyclist ones) are pretty cheap.
  • After the first ride, I was worn out, with muscles and bum aching. (Maybe I need a saddle upgrade?) After the second ride, I felt healthier. This is good.

PS Wednesday: Raymond Chen writes that as of now, a measurement of bicycle velocity is an Armstrong, equal to 22 kmh (13.5 mph), after the speed at which Lance Armstrong ascended l’Alpe D’Huez in the 2004 Tour de France. I suspect for myself, at present I only reach Armstrong speed going downhill with the wind behind me.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

6 replies on “Bikes and sofas”

re: safety vests. I bought a bright red one from Ray’s Outdoors (there are two stores within cycling distance of your place on the Nepean Hwy) for $6 last year.
OK, you’ll look like you’re part of a road maintenance gang but you won’t look anywhere near as silly as the Banana-in-Pyjamas outfits worn by most Hell Riders.
And the coroner will be pleased you at least made an effort to be visible!

Hi Daniel,
As you have noticed, it doesn’t take long to build up your cycling endurance. I started riding regularly last year. The first week I did about 12km (along the Yarra) and felt totally worn-out. The next week I did 20k and felt as though I had had a solid ride, but not too bad. The following week I did about 30km and again I felt as though I had had a solid workout, but not exhausted and aching.
Riding experience in previous years had not been so comfortable, may I share some tips that have greatly improved my comfort and enjoyment of riding:
1./ For rides over 1 or 2hours -drink LOTS of water and eat regular high energy snacks – It’s surprising what a difference this makes to general fatigue and muscle pain.
2./ Gentle stretching before and after riding – especially calf and hammy muscles.
3./ A comfortable seat with plenty of padding and bits cut away for vast improvement in “crotch comfort”.
4./ Book: Julia Blundens “Bike Rides Around Melbourne” – a fantastic resource with excellent details on bikepaths that you may otherwise never discover. “” . I avoid riding in trafic as much as I can. It is possible to get around much of Melbourne on off-road bike paths.
5./ Understanding how maintaining cadence (Using higher gears, increasing the spin but lowering the pressure has reduced problems in my knee and hip joints. – see here for more: )
6./ I bought a v cheap bike computer ($29). Keeping track distance travelled, average speed, total pedalling time etc is fun and helps give a sense of achievement.

Last Sunday I caught the train to Eltham, and rode back along the Yarra through Heidelberg, Kew, Fairfield Richmond etc to Southbank. 46.9km and it was lovely!
Since I stared riding regularly, I have discovered a whole new side of Melbourne that I never knew existed. Melbourne has marvellous cycling tracks and excellent geography (ie not too hilly!) for cycling.

Hope you continue to enjoy riding!

Not exactly a bike story but I remember one time I was sprinting along the side of a friend’s scooter down a road with a 30 km/h speed limit and managed, for a few metres, to actually break the speed limit. Ah, the crazy days of youth!

Cycling is a good time to look like a dag: dressed up in all sorts of bright, clashing colours.

But, bright clothing will not help your safety if you don’t claim your road lane:

Unless there is clearly lots of space to share your lane with a motor car: DONT.

Sit there in the middle of the lane so you don’t get squashed into the gutter and gravel and glass. Keep your safey buffers around you to front, back and sides.

Be predictable. Stick to the road rules, invite respect for your coolness, calmness and firmness.

If you basically ride in a straight line, have lights on at night, right on the correct side of the road and wear a helmet, I believe your chances of serious injury and death are the same as a motor car occupant.

And, you’re chances of living a longer, healthier life are greater as a regular cyclist, despite the air pollution (you will breathe in less of it…)


See you on the road,


Hi! I am Dalibor from Serbia and I need some information about bike safety in Australia:
-some statistics about crashes
-National Road Safety Strategy and effects
-statistic information about using bike for transportation and somting like that

Help me if you can!!!!

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