Category Archives: Rides

We ride

Finally, a blog post. I’m sure there are some who are saying that & it certainly applies to me too. My last post was back in April when there were some frustrations that included the weather & WordPress blogging issues. Winter arrived & it was too easy to avoid riding much but we did do another “Northern migration” for warmer climes in July. In fact, July was to be my last riding until this week; 4 months off the bike! That period was “interesting”, with lawn bowling dominating & my club Pennant side progressing to the state finals. Riding was low priority but also lack-lustre; medically things weren’t right & so lots of discussions & tests were undertaken. Eventually the issues were tracked to a faulty cable in my electrics. Yes, sounds weird I know but long-term blog readers may recall that I have an implanted defibrillator (it’s not just the Bromptons that require diagnostics, servicing & tune-ups?).

So, a short break to the Hawks Nest & Tea Gardens area to the north of Sydney saw the Tardis carrying our Bromptons Peregrine & Clarence.

Off we went for a gentle ride (all I could cope with after such a break?), pootling around the ocean & river foreshores. The river front included yachts, launches, houseboats & “office boats” – although the workers seem to have gone fishing when we passed by?

Nearly back to the Tardis at our campsite, Clarence had gone well but with a temperature up to 38° it was me that needed the rest stop.



Coastal break

A mid-week stay at MacMasters Beach wasn’t blessed with brilliant weather but still good for getting out & about. Rather too hilly for my riding & so walking to the cafe at the local surf club was popular – & nice for gazing out at big seas?
Lovely beach walk towards Copacabana
Driving to The Entrance & then riding around the lake front is more suitable for me, although with the King tides some areas of cycle path were a case of “Will I or won’t I?” (I didn’t)

Pizza ramble

Brompton Australian Championship preliminaries

The BAC weekend promised/included lots of tidbits & treats. The first was a “Welcome to Sydney” ride on the Saturday.

As the invitation email stated –
“If you’re travelling from interstate or overseas to race, or you’re a local, we’d like to welcome everyone to Sydney with a ride and get-together.
We’ll be meeting at Cheeky Transport, 3a Georgina St Newtown at 4pm on Saturday the 18th, and riding to Batty St Park at Rozelle for fantastic pizza from Rosso Pomodoro and drinks from the Bald Rock Hotel, and a glorious view over the harbour and city as the sun sets.”

I don’t know how Brompton Australia do it? Everything stated above came off well, on a day of lovely weather. We met at CheekyT, chatted & kicked tyres endlessly until Adam led us through quiet back streets, lanes, cycle paths & bush tracks (I kid you not! How does he find them?). A convoy of about 30 Bromptons certainly got some attention through all the trails, with people stepping back to watch us glide through. Knowing our destination, didn’t help me determine where I was at any time; we were on a Brompton magical mystery tour.

Arriving at the park just started the next phase of chats but this time on a grassy knoll overlooking waterfront sights towards the city. With such distractions I was oblivious to the beer delivery until an opened bottle was waved under my nose. Shortly after, a pile of pizza boxes appeared & we all tucked in. With a fine array of empty & near-empty boxes, it was then that I remembered to take some pics!? Sadly there seemed little appropriate for the blog post so I apologise for my limited selection from the afternoon/evening – but then, similar difficulties arose on Saturday so maybe we need a “nominated photographer” for such gatherings?

Sunset & a cooling breeze were successful in breaking up the party & we dispersed to all corners of Sydney, mindful of the big challenges that lay ahead for Sunday. Thank you Brompton Australia, CheekyT & all the entertaining Bromptonauts!

BAC memories

Brompton Australian Championship 2014

‘Twas such a blur & now just the memories ’til 2015? Of course I’m referring to “BAC day” (Brompton Australian Championships, 2014) & everything was fine (well, almost everything – as there was also that unfortunate event at the end of the day when Mrs Aussie parted company with Peregrine & managed to break her arm – refer earlier post “Peregrine down” & watch below for an update?)

Back to the fun part of the day, it started bright & sunny for our trip in the Tardis towards the Sydney Olympic Park venue & we parked in a nearby suburb to Brompt* the rest of the way. For a while we were mixed up in with some very tired looking riders who were participating in the Spring Cycle ride (& due to finish at SOP) & I expect our BAC attire was somewhat of a distraction? We headed straight to the Brompton registration tent to get our “goodies bag” & race numbers (the tent being easily located, owing to dozens of Bromptons in the vicinity?)

The inclusion of the BAC with the SOP cycling events was brilliant. Lots of activities, displays & food stalls for various happenings: eg 50km cross-city family rides finishing at the park & club cycling criterium races – including the Brompton race. The location of the Brompton tent & displays was ideal: close to tree shade & the cooling spray from the Olympic Fountain, adjacent to all displays & food. Perfect publicity positioning!?

“Serious chat time” with fellow attendees was all too short. There seemed to be many, many unfamiliar faces – although during the day I realised that some Brompton race outfits were more like disguises? “Next time” I shall look at trying to chat with everyone & I may even remember to take lots of pics? (yes, I admit to not getting very far – but I’ll try harder next year!?)

The summons to our “race briefing” reminded me about what we were there for, & seeing other cycle Crit races going on also revealed that I had the wrong circuit in mind?! An earlier Crit course had a been a loop around some of the roads with mostly right-angle turns & pavers along one section only. The latest course was almost an L-shape featuring 2 hairpin turns! Not as flowing a circuit but probably better for spectating (both beside the track & on-bike – where I would have the pleasure of seeing riders disappear into the distance, but watch for them coming back towards me from the major turns?) Refer map with course overlay in red –

My participation is in keeping with the race ideals, with attire, style & enjoyment to the fore & as usual, my racing would be at my rather slow pace! A max pace, mind you, but one that my restricted heart capacity would see me expecting to see lots of riders close-up – as they lapped me regularly? Our participation in the Brompton World Championship last year was a delight & an experience. Mixed up with nearly 700 Bromptons spread around the Goodwood Motor Circuit was a delight to the senses & an experience that suggested very careful consideration of the jacket portion of the required race attire? My traveling sports coat was quite comfortable but thoroughly unsuitable for ventilation. The wise heads would suggest an Op-shop jacket, stripped of its lining & even hacked open at the armpits? My search for a jacket for BAC 2014 was rather frustrating; nothing lightweight & stylish at Op-shops? on-line ordering totally baffling for size & likely weight? (After all, asking vendors for a jacket to suit BWC/BAC criteria is likely to be doomed? How about “stylish, light, cool, cheap & capable of coordination”?) When all seemed lost & about to revert to anything from the Op-shop situation, I found an outlet with my ideal: lightweight cotton, unlined, my size & discounted to the princely sum of $15 – magic! My ride would be complete!

I have to confess that I never expected BAC to eventuate! My observation/experience is that Australian & NSW Cycling organizing bodies are hopelessly rule-driven & inflexible & wouldn’t want to help out? Fortunately, kudos to Lidcome-Auburn Cycling Club & Park Bikes for allowing Brompton Australia to slot in a race during their Cycling Club Cup events at Sydney Olympic Park! Now, don’t interpret these comments as a complaint but the event plans were a touch confusing! Initially advised as 5 laps of a 1.72km course later became a Crit of 30mins + 1 lap & then finally at the race briefing, 6 laps of the Crit course?! No problems; we had a race!

After the race briefing we were guided onto the circuit to the point we would fold our Bromptons (about 65?), walk back down the track about 20 meters & await the start. In keeping with Brompton Championships, the race commenced from a LeMans start, running to our bikes & unfolding them before proceeding along the course. Of course the race format also included a style factor of “jacket & tie mandatory”. For reasons unknown to me, the race briefing included an opt-out for jacket wearing!? Yes, a warm day but not overly hot & many bounders took advantage of this weakening of dress rules! Just not cricket?

And so to the race… Not the greatest of unfolds for me but that’s definitely relative; some people needed assistance to finally get mobile? My race strategy was no different to other rides; pedal fast until leg fatigue forces me to back off a bit & then just keep going – & watch the action around me while staying out of the way? Do consistent timed laps but consider pulling out if my times drop away (for me, not a good idea to overdo things?). However, using my Garmin as my guide went awry! First, I forgot to reset it from the morning ride & had no idea of my first lap time. Then I found I couldn’t read the Garmin with it vibrating badly on the pavé along the start/finish area! Not only had I lost my lap-time references, I’d lost my lap counter. With lots of riders overtaking & the race update commentary over the PA system, I lost track of my laps & pulled off once the leaders had finished. Well, that’s my excuse for not doing all the laps (& unlike the BWC, I had no race-recorded time & no finisher’s medal to ride for). A very entertaining ride; I liked being able to see other riders & their Bromptons, both when being lapped & when coming back from the hairpin turns – & as you may notice in my YouTube video BAC 2014, my pace doesn’t trouble the leaders!

Yours truly, hard at work…

Of course, the post-race activities primarily involved chatting but also found time for a Brompton folding competition & the awards presentation.

A big thanks for the day to Brompton Australia, Kobie Cycling, LACC, Park Bikes & many hard working Bromptonauts (& to Bicycling Australia magazine & Mrs Aussie for some pics here?)

Update on Mrs Aussie:
Surgery successful to relocate & pin a piece of the left elbow radius head. Everything stiff & sore but movement increasing & “nearly able” to hold a coffee cup – & scratch her nose? Driving the Tardis (manual gear change) or riding Peregrine probably won’t happen this year? CT scan soon to review still painful hip?

* Brompt – as in “to ride a Brompton” (per Mrs Aussie’s artwork setup for T-shirts, etc)

Peregrine down

What a day we had at the Brompton Australian Championship 2014. Lots to post about, from the pre-race meetups, the actual BAC & the various post-race activities (including my slightly embarrassing attempt in the Brompton Folding competition?) – but all revelations to come later…

First off, the major happening was at the end of the day, when Mrs Aussie misjudged a driveway ramp angle & came to grief, launching herself onto the pavement! The ramp was pretty slippery with a fine grit covering which dumped her pretty heavily & rapidly onto her left side. A few abrasions from knee to head & a rather sore hip & arm but we loaded the bikes into the Tardis (parked not too far away) & headed for home. After a cleanup it was decided to get the sore arm checked out. A few impact-area X-Rays at our local hospital & the crack to the radius head at the left elbow was disclosed (cue pic of patient -)

The initial appraisal needed confirmation with a specialist & today he arranged CT scans which showed the sorry state of a “mushed head”, with a piece requiring relocation & pinning! The specialist will be operating on Wednesday & so Peregrine will be “taking a break” for a while?

For reference, Peregrine’s condition doesn’t appear to require much surgery, with some scuffing to Ergon bar-end & Brooks saddle…


Brompton Australian Championship 2014

“Lovely day for a ride, let’s get down to Sydney Olympic Park”. Maximum temperature of 28° & should be about 22° for our little ride?

“Our little ride” is the Brompton Folding Bike National Championship at 11:45am…

At about 1:45pm Brompton have a reward for the first male & first female: return air travel tickets for the Brompton World Championship 2015…

Woohoo! Better get a move on!

Puncture practice

Lovely morning for a ride & so thought we might just check out the progress on some new cyclepath near Parramatta (an extra section that avoids a road detour to skip around a factory – & stay close to the riverbank?). We drove the Tardis to the Silverwater end of Olympic Park & unloaded our Bromptons, Ralph & Peregrine.

While crossing Silverwater Bridge I wondered about Mrs Aussie up-front & carrying Peregrine? (oh no, some mechanical issue I thought, & she’s carrying her Brompton off the narrowish footpath?) Catching up I then realised what the issue was – she was avoiding quite a bit of broken glass! – & I rode straight through it while trying to see what could have been wrong with Peregrine! A quick check of the tyres & all seemed well so we rode on. Later we needed to undertake a detour around an industrial area – lo & behold, some more glass about? Shortly after, I felt Ralph to be weaving slightly & dismounted to confirm my suspicions: rear tyre puncture!

Ralph’s Kojak tyres have held up well (aside from the country-side thorn some months ago?) & this time I was going to try to remember to take photos. Here’s the first –

Parked the rear wheel, whipped out some tools (chose the old faithfuls from my luggage bag rather than the Brompton Toolkit) & removed the chain tensioner.

It was about here that things got out of step. I should have changed to high gear to reduce tension in the gear change cable & then disconnect the cable. Instead, I removed the axle nuts & pulled the rear wheel out – only to realise the gear change cable was still in place (& possibly suffering from the action?). Another pic – this one with all removed neatly.

Aside from the challenge of removing a Brompton rear wheel (Ralph’s 11-speed Alfine probably no more difficult than standard – just different), I was mindful of the next task to remove (& later replace) a tyre on Ralph’s Sun rim (a very flat well in the rim profile making for little leeway when getting the tyre over the rim). My trusty Michelin tyre levers got the tyre off (I wouldn’t have risked using the original-style levers in my Brompton Toolkit – must remember to get them replaced sometime) & I removed the tube. Some air in the tube & I managed to locate the puncture hole. Using the hole as a guide, I inspected the tyre both inside & out before presuming that the glass/whatever was gone & not likely to reoffend? A new tube fitted, it was now time for the worst part of the exercise – refitting the tyre on the Sun rim. Some pics here to reflect my progress: nearly all the way & during a rest-stop, an indication of that last 10cm or so (the thumb-wrecking part?)

Success! Relief! Tyre on! Some air in the tyre to check for tube pinching & then deflation for the wheel refitting (I never disconnect the Brompton brake cables & so my tyres need to be fully inflated after fitment of the wheels, otherwise the inflated tyre won’t fit between the brake pads). Wheel refitted, chain in place & on with the chain tensioner (er, no – some tiredness perhaps, out of practice maybe, but reconnecting the gear change cable with the tensioner in place is “very difficult”) – refer pic –

Oh well, tensioner back off again & cable reconnected (& careful inspection that I hadn’t damaged it on my out-of-sequence wheel removal?). Back on with the tensioner & then re-thread chain around jockey wheels? Some brain-fade here, as to where the chain has to be positioned with the tensioner – perhaps not helped by consistent calls from passing cyclists (with their quick-release wheels) to enquire if I need assistance? (little did they know?). Peregrine saved the day; by being available as a model.

About this time, I decided to re-inflate the rear tyre & so reached for a CO2 cartridge & adapter. I now realise it was the first time I’d used that adapter type & the first time I’d re-inflated a Brompton wheel on the bike with a CO2 cartridge (although lots of experience with big-wheel bikes). Needless, to say, things didn’t go well – the access at the Presta valve positioning wasn’t great, I got the adapter alignment wrong & I was slightly in contact with the cartridge when I opened the adapter tap! The end result was of course, lots of hand pump action to inflate the tyre! (The CO2 progress was something like: open adapter tap, realise/remember that the cartridge temperature drops to freezing – & I was touching the cartridge – & jump/bobble around with the device while most of the CO2 goes anywhere but into the Presta valve?! A definite case of “do practice this at home”?)

All the fun was over, now time to cleanup (really a good motivator to have a spotless bike, & always seems to be the time to think about disposable gloves, hand wipes, etc for next time?)

Here’s one final pic (yes, I did fully tighten the Presta valve locking ring before moving off). Unfortunately, we didn’t get to check out the new cyclepath (instead we headed for a cafe for brunch). Maybe next time? (once the new Marathon tyres order has arrived & been fitted?)

New challenges

A lot has happened in the last few years. Bromptons, retirement, the Tardis & now Lawn Bowling. Lots of other things too but the last year of bowling has been a rather surprising activity.

My only practical experience had been a workplace Christmas function many years ago, when a large group hit the greens for a “barefoot bowls” session. That had been fun but the post-retirement intrigue of seeing bowlers at my local club lead to inquiring about “proper coaching”. Some weeks of coaching & I was joining up as a registered bowler; all very whirlwind I suppose but it’s been an ongoing learning experience.

The early surprise was the workout on leg muscles that I’d forgotten about. Once I started playing social games I realised it wasn’t just a walk in the park: more like a 4 hour walk, with bending & stretching & regular weight-lifting of 1.5kg lawn bowls. This physical involvement has an accompanying mental effort as well, with continuing concentration on the bowling action, the game aspects & changing conditions throughout the time. In addition, I’ve gained an appreciation of the social structures of the game (team selections & socialising, play etiquette & player support) & how the game is an ideal exercise for the “senior body”, as well as participants of all ages (& gender). All very surprising & unexpected?

I suppose I was expecting a challenge when I started, of the game requirement to deliver the bowl along a curving trajectory to a target point on the bowling rink. The challenge is even more immense than I expected, with variability in weather & rink conditions endeavouring to counter any personal effort for consistency? In truth, “it’s bloody hard” – but addictive?!

I’d often seen bowling green maintenance being undertaken but now I’ve got a much better appreciation of what goes on. Here’s our club Greenkeeper/magician, Fred, whizzing about on his mower.

The last few months has even seen a ramped up involvement, with participation in the Zone Pennants championship play & in various club championship events. Throughout this time I’ve been getting a better feel for how I’ve been delivering the bowl (as compared to the early self-questioning such as “how did it end up there?”) & progressing successfully through various championship rounds. This busy time has seen some periods of 7 days play per week! As you can imagine other activities have suffered & my cycling has often been limited to riding Ralph to the bowling club to practice. Unfortunately our club Pennants side hasn’t won our section so that’s our season over for this year & unfortunately again, my Minor Pairs final was unsuccessful (although my partner & I have been rather pleased to even make the final against some very experienced players) & so now it’s time to escape for a bit in the Tardis?

Actually, this escape trick isn’t quite what it seems, for the Tardis is carrying a spare set of bowls along with Ralph & Peregrine. With almost every town possessing a bowling club then it’s likely there’ll be a little research along the way? Here is a very recent escapade at Lennox Head: note Ralph & Brompton C bag waiting patiently to carry about 7kg of bowling equipment back to the Tardis.

Bike Mustering

Wow! Five weeks since my last blog post!? Where has the time gone? Now that I think about it, we took the Tardis away for a couple of weeks (& didn’t have too much blogging chance while on the road?) & the last 2 weeks have been pretty full-on with lawn bowling (Pennants games, club championship games, social games & practice sessions?) & of course, various household maintenance activities. Now with a slight lull in proceedings, time for some blog catch-up!? Let’s start with Easter…

Visiting Mudgee in NSW is nice. We would normally take the Tardis to an ideal caravan park that’s easy walking distance to shops, cafés & restaurants. Mudgee is also ideal for lots of wineries close by, with good cycling along flattish & quiet roads. Easter this year was a bit of a different time for us, as we participated in the annual Mudgee Bike Muster.

The Muster is based at the Australian Rural Education Centre, a few kms from town. A huge complex, offering powered sites & with good facilities. The organisers were able to provide all meals & the only thing we left the site for, was to ride to wineries! Well, a bit more to it than that but you probably get the idea?

The Centre had plenty of grassed campsites & with many well-compacted dirt & gravel roads. A very family-friendly event, it provided a safe environment for the youngest of riders to burn off energy & develop bike skills. Over the four days we saw examples of tantrums turn into happy faces, balance bikes discarded for pedal bikes & riders continually exploring & lapping the site. Not just an event for the very young, the few hundred participants were all ages & on an assortment of bikes. Yes, 5 Bromptons were there & really catching the eyes.

Leaving Sydney on Thursday, we found another Pie in the Sky cafe for a snack along the way.


We’d intended an overnight stop at a quiet little caravan park at Rylstone. Little did we know that the Orienteering National Champs were being held in the area & many hundreds of attendees made the local facilities “rather cosy”, with tents & vans wall-to-wall? Fortunately, the park manager was understanding & slotted us in too.

Next day we resumed our trip to Mudgee & headed straight to the AREC site for check-in & to setup the Tardis for our 4 day stay. Registration completed & we then needed to park & get comfy. Whoops! The site was a lot bigger than expected & we drove some slow laps trying to decide where to drop anchor. How close did we want to be to the main building (used for meals, entertainment, showers, etc), other amenities, other campsites & activity areas (shelters, BMX track, etc)? Finally we decided & settled in (hooked up to power, popped the roof up, put the kettle on, etc). Probably the biggest open area park we’ll ever encounter, equipped with both 15amp & 10amp power connections & easily capable of coping with the 300+ entrants expected.


The Mudgee Muster event program included morning or afternoon rides over a variety of surfaces & distances, catered meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) & evening entertainment (trivia, bush dancing & movies). Our preference was going to be the on-road medium distance rides but other options included off-road rides & a longer ride to the next town. All local morning rides ended at one of the close-by wineries, where our lunch pack was supplied. All very civilised, relaxing & enjoyable (cue pics from brekkie & the lunch venues).




A number of Mudgee wineries have dining opportunities (along with the usual wine tasting capability) & when the initial Friday afternoon ride took us past one of our favourites on the return home, how could we resist stopping in for pizza & wine – & even some Boules play?


The rides were mapped & pretty clearly marked. Participants included all ages & experience (& bikes) & were mostly on quiet roads at relaxed paces. Probably the only down-side to the weekend was the introduction to the notorious “Cathead thorns” for many riders. The organisers had warned us to stay away from the grassed edges of certain roads but punctures on the first ride on Friday was quite a “learning experience” for many! (our Brompton tyres with their puncture resistance belts got us through unscathed)


Late Monday morning & the site was due to close & most participants were probably heading home? We weren’t due home for another week, so time for us to head north to the New England area…

North Coast break

A window opened for a mid-week break recently & so the Tardis was packed for a “beach trip” to somewhere north of Sydney. Ralph & Peregrine came along too, for some days of caravan park stops & local rides & beach visits. With Bromptons loaded into our VW T5 Campervan we didn’t last long before needing to stop for lunch.

Hawks Nest turned out to be the first nights caravan park, just beside the ocean beach.

Next day saw us out on the Bromptons for some cruising around the coastal area (no pics I’m sorry, but there just might be a video soon?). The afternoon activity just had to be the beach & Mrs Aussie managed to fit in an ocean dip & a beach walk – as well as chatting to a local resident.

Another night & it was decision time: stay put for some more nights or move on? One of our caravan park criteria had been overlooked here; decent 3G & so it was an easy choice – Forster here we come! We like the elevated section of the park, with views over the town, park, river & inner beach.

The sunset kept us occupied with our wine, while waiting for the restaurant meals.

This park neighbour had done a commendable job on a VW T2 restoration/conversion.

Our ride for the day on Ralph & Peregrine took us around & out of town.

We couldn’t complain about the weather as we’d just missed a wind storm the day before arriving at Hawks Nest but for us it had been sunshine all the way – until late on our final afternoon & some rain came down. We relaxed under the awning of the Tardis & were joined by this damp Noisy Miner.

Pulling out from the caravan park, we stopped for a coffee at the local surf club & nestled our little/big Tardis amongst some fellow travellers.

Our journey home included a detour inland via Dungog – & we came across a vintage tractor exhibition getting started for the weekend! Over 50 tractors went past my hastily pointed iPhone lens, although my processing of the videos is rather tractor-paced? – but I did manage to get a pic of one of the traction engines chuffing along.

Until the next trip… (over Easter?)