Monday, February 23, 2009

Foldies, roadies & oldies

Two fast foldies reporting for duty

Riding a Friday on a Wednesday is pretty fun!

230 years old combined!

Another way of moving along the river....
I prefer 2 small wheels, thank you.

Someone's been touring I see...

I've mentioned before that one of the great joys of cycling is meeting new folks. It was my pleasure to be introduced at church to Rod, a former postie and an ardent cyclist. He does a mid week long ride every Wednesday.

Wait a minute Mr Postman... my new friend Rod

Rod rides a Giant hybrid bike with 7000km on it and Ken, a seasoned KHS. They are both originally from the UK and are long time friends since 1982. Rod is used to having 40kg of mail in his front rack and delivering them on a one speed postie bike - so his cycling skill is way up there compared to mine. We met early morning at 0715 and I learned later that Ken took the first 0600 train from Mandurah to meet us. Talk about commitment!

Our ride took us alongside the beautiful Canning River and onto the Swan River, on world class bike paths. The weather was cloudy and overcast which made it absolutely perfect for a cool 20c morning ride.

Perth city skyline

It was heartening to see so many people on bikes as well and many people with dogs in tow took advantage of the perfect day. The shared path concept seem to work well with pedestrians and cyclists giving each other mutual respect and space, unlike some other countries I know.

Our destination was Point Walter, a lovely and scenic place to have morning tea and there, we enjoyed our flask of hot tea, fruit and a snack. At $5 per cup for tea and $20 for brekkie along the ritzy riverside cafes, you can understand the need for BYO.

Pic borrowed from WA Tourist website

Both Rod and Ken were fascinated with our 20" wonders after a test ride. The performance and handling surprised them, but both Pat and I, being seasoned foldie converts, were standing there grinning with the "I told you so look". Total ride was an easy 34km and next Wednesday, the plan is to take the train to Mandurah and cycle along the beautiful coast there.

What a lovely morning with foldies, roadies and a bunch of really fun and young-hearted oldies (me included).

Gray hair is a crown of splendor - Proverbs 16:31

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Alvin... where're the cars?

I came across recently a blogger from the US, also a Bike Friday owner, who made a posting last year (with the title above) about why they aren't car photos in my stories at BF website, and I guess in many other bike forums, stories etc. His very valid point is that if we are honest, many of us drive to our ride destination with our bikes in the car (easier with foldies of course).

Maynard writes:

We drive to every ride. Were it not for the automobile, there'd be no bike clubs, no club rides, no more than three bike shops per major city, no Trek, no Specialized, no Pearl Izumi, certainly no Cervelo or Colnago and nearly no cycling in this great land.

I wonder what the cycling purists have to say about this? On that count, I'm largely with Maynard except with foldies, I tend to jump on public transport whenever possible while I was in Singapore as parking there is crazy!

Note: Cars do get featured in Lovethefold from time to time, together with planes, trains and boats, not forgetting the odd horse and elephant :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What car for foldies?

As much as I want to be car free, the need for one is quite apparent especially when the weather gets too cold or too hot. While Perth is not as cold as Calgary (looking at Vik’s pics), it can get quite chilly during winters but the summers are more the ones to worry about. Today, it hit 39.8C and believe me, you do not want to cycle in that heat wave.

So is there an ideal car for foldies like us? Well, I assume one of the reasons why we ride is that we do want to make a difference to reduce greenhouse emissions, or at least minimise our impact on it. Therefore, something that is fuel efficient is non-negotiable. Many people here in Australia like SUVs for its “tough” image but only about 10% or less actually go off-road. They get anywhere from a shameful 15-20L/100km and even the smaller ones like Forester, CRV, RAV4 struggle to get 12L/100km. Confession - I used to drive a RAV4.

The other criteria is a hatch design for easy loading of our foldies. Most cars will easily swallow at least 2 foldies (kudos to the compactness of foldies), I’m looking at something that can take at least 3 foldies and 3 people. I also am a big fan of Japanese technology and craftsmanship. The quality of Shimano bike components speak for themselves and these qualities extend to their cars too.

Scouting around, I decided on a 09 Corolla 1.8 hatch with 6 speed gearbox, manual of course. While autos are the preferred choice today, I’m a stick shift guy. They drive far better for smaller engine cars and are easily 10 - 20% more economical.

You can also glide on neutral gear with the engine cut off, to take advantage of any down hills. I’ve done 4l/100km with a manual Corolla in 1990 once in the Shell Economy Rally. Flat battery is also not an issue as push start is an easy option. With a 60:40 split seat in the Corolla, 3 foldies can be carried easily with ample room for one rear passenger, or two at a squeeze.

I’m getting the new Corolla end of this month. I don’t think it will be used very much as I should be on the saddle most times. I’m hoping to make one tank of petrol last 2 weeks. Could this be my ideal car for a folding bike commuter? Stay tune…
*Update 1 - just collected the car this morning Feb 26. Pics above. I love the smell of a new car!

*Update 2 - 6 Apr 09. 1500km on the clock. Topped up 34 litres for 493km or a very impressive 14.5kml.

*Update 3 - 12 May 2012. 33900km on the clock. Car sold to Kristy, uni student. Absolutely nothing went wrong save for a flat battery. Corollas may not set your heart on fire, but they are the champions of reliable, trouble free motoring. Last fuel recorded - 14km/l. So sad to part with her!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lovethefold's new HQ downunder

I ride past this WW2 Spitfire everyday on my way home. Neat huh?

I have always wondered what the WA in Western Australia stands for, and judging from the long time things take to get done, WA must certainly stand for “Wait Awhile”. It took us 9 days to get our home line connected and we are still awaiting broadband connection, which is scheduled on Feb 17. That sort of explains why this blog has been fairly quiet thus far.
Setting up a new home is always a royal pain – so many things to buy and assemble. It is great that my bike multi-tool came in really handy especially when fixing up Ikea furniture. I’ve decided to give my two foldies, Brompton esq and Mr Speed Pro, prime positions in the new HQ, where they will be safe and comfortable from the harsh summer. Although the missus and many others will not agree, I happen to think they are great objects of art worthy to be displayed in the living room.

We are 1.5km from the Canning River foreshore and there is a beautiful bike path that just runs alongside the beautiful river offering remarkable scenery.

This is indeed bike heaven with many people fishing, boats and canoes having a good time, joggers with dogs in tow, fresh breezes and zero car traffic. Perfect for that relax, leisurely ride.

Jem starts his first day of school tomorrow and it’s a five minute cycle on my old Bridgestone XO-5. It’s important to make it look undesirable as possible as the bike will be parked in the school bike rack so here’s an idea I’ve seen in Chinatown Singapore that may very work. If you have any other suggestions to make the XO-5 look even more unappealing to the bike thief, I welcome that very much.