Archive for June, 2008

Elusive Bloom

The Flasher – June Edition – contest is to write a flash story that reveals a secret. Well below the fold, my contribution. You think you know the secret? Well, don’t be so damn sure, you cocky so-and-so!

Continue reading ‘Elusive Bloom’


Announcing the ATBIAW 2008.

Announcing this year’s Around the Bay in a Weekend ride, on September 20th-21st 2008, with a backup of the following weekend if the weather doesn’t co-operate. This year we ride anticlockwise! What a thrill.

More details: see my ATBIAW page, where the latest news and updates will be found!

The chicken has a new ride.

No, that’s not an obscure reference to the well known mondegreen. I have a “new” car!

The old Magna wagon was getting a bit sad. It had had a hard life and there were few things that really needed major attention. There was an almighty transmission line clunk. She had been leaking oil slightly for years, but it was getting to be a major problem. There was a squeak in one of the wheel bearings at left steering lock, the brake rotors needed replacing and there was some bodywork damage thanks to a minor trailer mishap that would have cost thousands to put right although it didn’t affect function. In these days of rising fuel prices, it was costing a fortune in fuel for use on short trips. It was also an automatic, and at present I’m trying to teach the Boy to drive, and we want him to get a manual license.

So there was a choice. Spend many thousands on fixing up the Magna and have a car that was still fuel hungry, and unsuitable for teaching, or trade for something smaller.

After a lot of searching for small wagons that would suit, I ended up finding a ’97 Subaru Impreza hatchback (2 litre) with only 87000km on the dial and impressive condition at a good price.

It’s nice to drive.

I’ll have to make some compromises, though. It doesn’t have the massive rear space that the Magna had, I’ll need to make a roof rack for the bikes. A front rack and rear tow hitch rack will be needed for the hang gliders, and when I go out with the powered glider, I’m going to need to take a trailer. All doable, of course.

Eastlink rides: Redux #2

Update 29th June 2009

It’s a whole year later – and the news is that John Trevorrow is suing John Faine of the ABC .

To quote the Age:

“Mr Trevorrow alleges the broadcast on June 27 last year meant he was incompetent and dishonest and had mismanaged the event at a community open day for the EastLink tollway.”

Linky here:

Opinion mode: 

I don’t think any organiser could have anticipated the sheer on-the-day volume of the response to the Eastlink ride, no matter what their level of competence, and I doubt that any promoter could have done any better a job of managing what actually happened on the day once it became obvious things were going pear shaped.

But… I do think that the combined organisers (not just CED) did a poor job of planning based on the numbers they were already actually anticipating.  The transponder/registration/mailout fiasco, the use of only half the tollway and the resulting deadly bollard-dodging were things riders really shouldn’t have had to deal with.

The aftermath, specifically Mr Faine’s  taking CED to task over the issue of refunds, is I guess, now a matter for the courts to decide!!!

27th June 2008.. re: refunds:

If you asked for a refund (minus Cancer Council donation) for the Eastlink 65km Challenge and received an email saying refunds are closed, ask again. The organizer was on the radio this morning on 3LO and has said that this was a bad decision and that refunds are now still available (as of 27th June, but if you’re reading this more than a few weeks later than that, I guess the window will be closed). Email: John Trevorrow ( for up to date information.

And don’t forget to return your “transponder” if you didn’t at the ride! Otherwise, you’ll get $25 deducted from your credit card, according to the Challenge Terms and Conditions! Post it (with your name and address) to:

Cycling Events
1 Melbourne Rd
Drumcondra VIC 3215


BV has a survey at:
(scroll down to the bottom right of the “Feedback” panel)
along with estimates of the numbers that participated and an admission that the numbers simply overwhelmed their plans.


John Trevorrow ( Cycling Events Downunder was on 774 3LO this morning with John Faine and agreed to refund all but the $15 cancer council donation to folks who contact him dissatisfied with the 65km ride. I’m not quite sure what level of dissatisfaction you will need to express, though. If you didn’t get a rider pack and ended up mixed up with the Fun Ride, my guess is you’d have cause to complain that you didn’t get what you paid for, which was supposedly the chance to ride fast on a wide, open smooth road and to compare your time with the elite CSV riders.


UPDATE: The results and transponder timings for the Challenge are published on the Bicycle Victoria web site at:

HOWEVER…. there are results published for only 930 riders out of 3000 transponders and the name of the first place getter is wrong!

Eastlink 65km ride: Redux #1

OK, I’m back from the 65km Eastlink Challenge. Yes, that’s me mugging at you with my homemade carbon fibre recumbent bike. And yes, I did do the ride wearing a checked shirt. But no, I wasn’t smoking a pipe and chewing on beef jerky.

You know, I can’t tell you much about Eastlink the road because I didn’t see much of it. I can tell you that it’s smooth and undulating in places. The concentration required on the ride was so intense there wasn’t time to enjoy the scenery. There were just so many people.

A. Lot. Of. People.

I turned up early… real early. The organizers were still setting up. In return for a lateral engineering suggestion that solved a signage problem for him, a thankful organizer went and got my rider ID for me early, so I had plenty of time to sit about and watch the gradually growing mayhem.

The organizers area was on the east side of the tollway under the interchange (see pic – I’ll bet most of you didn’t see it this empty!). The starting grid was on the western side of the road – we would be riding on one side of the tollway only, and returning on the same road, albeit on the other side. I staked out my position (#2386) reasonably early, and was able to watch as some plans went awry.

The first blue was that the organizers had put some very nice ramps across the divider so that riders could cross over from the registration area to the ride start. Unfortunately, both these ramps were near the front of the start line. As the area at the start started to fill with riders, it became difficult for riders to get over the ramps and make their way back up through the crowd to their start position. The organizers were forced to send the riders up and over the interchange to join the ride from the rear instead.

The second blue was, that as anticipated, the rider ID and transponder distribution system – which worked fine early – was unable to cope with the massive queue that grew later – and as the ride start time approached, the organizers threw up their hands and told the rest of the riders not to bother and to join the back of the ride (by riding up and over the interchange).

The pic at right shows the riders in front of me with the start gate in the far distance…

I had time for a pleasant chat with all the folks close by in my start area – and we were able to chat for some minutes after the start gun went, too, since nothing was moving. Eventually we shuffled off, and I was only able to actually put both feet in the pedals just before the official start line.

I wove my way through the crowd and after about 3km was eventually able to put it in the big ring.

The organizers had admonished us to form into 2-abreast after the first couple of km. This just didn’t happen until we were about 12km down the road where it narrowed to 2 lanes (one coming, one going). There were folks over the entire width of the road. In order to pass in the first 7km, I had to use the breakdown lane (on my right). My bell got a major workout.

Eventually the traffic spaced out a little and it was a good run for a few km until our lane narrowed and 2-abreast was – sort of – honoured, although there were always folks in the third position passing, often diving into the opposing lane.

I waved hello to George and Eric as I passed. I was sort of hoping to catch Steve, but he started almost a thousand riders ahead of me and he’s fast, so I never did.

A few km out from Frankston, a lone HPV came swishing in the opposite direction. It was Jeff Neilson in Overzealous who had overtaken the elite CSV riders after about 12km (he started after them) and who would go on to lead all the way to the finish.

Update: Jeff started 5 mins after the CSV race, caught them within 12km, and finished 8 minutes ahead of them in a time of 1hr 23mins. And that’s despite having to stop to make the U-turns at the turn points (he has a 50m turning circle!)

Halfway to Frankston, there was a rider down in the middle of the road being attended by paramedics. I encountered an ambulance on the way back, as well. I’m not sure if it was for the same accident. (Update: it appears to have been the aftermath of a wheel touch amongst the CSV rider peleton.)

It was a bit of a zoo in the single-lane area near Frankston, with one near miss I saw when a woman slowed right down in the middle of the road causing an entire peleton to swerve and panic.

Things had thinned out a bit by the time we passed the start, and I was able to wave royally at the massive crowd of cyclists building for the 30km fun ride. I heard the commentator say “Look at that! One handed!” as I passed. (Note to worried readers: the traffic was negligible by then and I only need one hand to steer this machine, so no, this wasn’t reckless.). From this point, my average speed started to drop, thanks to some long although not steep climbs – the roll down never seemed to make up for the slow grind up, and I was passed by (only a few quite fast) small groups as I groaned my way up to Ringwood.

The ride back from Ringwood was a dream – overall more descending than climbing, and it was fun zooming by as we encountered the rest of the 65km ride going the other way.

In fact, the last 30km was actually very pleasant indeed. I seemed to have left the biggest group of riders behind me, and the really fast riders were well ahead, so the road was mostly clear in front.

In the last 10km of the ride I’d got a second wind and was going well. Unfortunately, the folks on the other side of the road weren’t. There were a mixture of 65km and Fun Ride bibs in a massive crowd of riders that was going at a snails pace. My guess is that the slower 65km riders were not fast enough to get through the start before the Fun Ride started – and they became entrapped in the 3-lane-wide slow-moving morass of Sunday hybrid bikes, MTB’s tandem trailers and so on. Some of them were straying into the single lane left for we returning riders, so I found myself hammering along in the breakdown lane a lot.

I have never seem so many bicycles in my life.

It would have been nice to put on a sprint for the end, but the area after the finish gate was clogged with riders.

At the finish, I said Hi to the HPV contingent (see right), who were all very nicely cooled down by now, including Steve in his Block of Cheese. Then I cycled back to the car and – well, the rest is irrelevant, and you really wouldn’t be interested.

Yes, I enjoyed the ride, mainly because I came early and well prepared.

My average speed (including the walking pace shuffle to the start, so the actual riding average is somewhat faster) was 34.9km/hr, with a maximum speed of 62km/hr somewhere about Cheltenham. No sore bum, shoulders, back or neck, and a nice burn in the thighs.

UPDATE: By the looks of things, I probably finished somewhere in the first 200 riders. I must have passed over 2000 upright bike riders along the way!

UPDATE: You can leave feedback on the ride with Bicycle Victoria at

(scroll down to the bottom right)

Mandrake the Munition

Lee Falk’s “Mandrake the Magician” serialized comic was the page I turned to in my mothers’ Australian Womens Weekly in the late 60’s/early ’70s. OK, the underwear ads were also briefly glimpsed in passing…..

Mandrake had the power to “gesture hypnotically” so that people would see illusions. It was a power he seemed to use only at the direst moments, of course, to thwart the evildoers.

From his home Xanadu, with his faithful black strongman Lothar, girlfriend Narda, and his best friend, ruler of a million planets, Magnon, (who seemed to need his help regularly), Mandrake gestured regularly on the last page until the Women’s Weekly became a monthly magazine which, …. for some strange reason, …. did not trigger a name change.

Overtakers Anonymous

My name is the Chicken, (*Note 5) and I am a pass-a-holic.

Yes, it’s true (sob). I just can’t stand to see folks ahead of me on bicycles. I just have to try to catch and pass them.

Now, of course this is a pathetic and totally futile exercise.

First off, the folks ahead aren’t racing me and couldn’t care less (*See note 1) if some mustachioed geek on a recumbent rumbles up behind them and proceeds to gasp and wheeze his way past.

Secondly, chances are I won’t catch them. After all, I’m no athlete, and many of the folks out on Beach Rd where I train most definitely are. A funny bike does not make up for being 20-30 years too old.

And lastly, of course, there’s always someone else ahead of them. You can’t pass them all – that way madness lies. * (see Note 2)

The only saving grace in the whole sorry situation is that being a pass-a-holic does mean that you get a pretty damn good workout.


*Note 1: unless they are a pass-a-holic themselves…. and there are a lot of these sorry specimens about.

*Note 2: The Fat Cyclist guide for actually scoring your ride if you are a totally unrepentant pass-a-holic can be found here:

*Note 3: Todays training ride and sad stats…

42km Beach Rd to Mordialloc & return.
Average speed 32km/hr*,
Max speed 51km/hr,
Bikes passed: 6. Passed by other bikes: 0 🙂

*Note 4: I reserve a special corner in Hell for the two white haired ladies who pressed the button on the pedestrian crossing at Ricketts Point, just as I came screaming down the hill at 50km/hr with the momentum I needed to boost me up the next hill into Beaumaris. Two ladies who smiled sweetly at me as they crossed … as I sat at the lights, panting with my brakes gently smoking.

*Note 5: No it’s not.