Monday, 15 August 2011

Lessons from a Learner


Over the last month I have gotten into this cycling thing again for the first time since I was a kid. I had been riding spin bikes at the gym, but as I have been reminded time and time again, it is not the same as a real bike!

So here are my tales from a learner cyclist!

I decided to get up early on saturday morning to go for my ride before a seminar. It was dark when I left home, and still dark as I started my ride. As I descended down into Akuna Bay the fog hit. Foggy weather is dangerous enough for a cyclist because:
a) you can't see where you are going and
b) the cars can't see me.
To make things worse, it was still dark so visability was quite difficult.
Even though I was lit up like a Christmas Tree I was still terrified someone would hit me.

The magic of a bike tune
I took my bike in to be tuned on Friday as the gears were feeling a little clicky and finnicky and I didn't think this was normal. The shop was amazing and squeezed me in. On the way down the hill the changes were so smooth. It felt like engineering genius! I managed to make it all the way up the hill without hurting too bad! I then turned into West Head Rd and powered up the first hill. Fantastic. But then, as I went to go down the first hill, I realised I had no low gears. Uh-oh. So I stopped the bike and that was when I realised that the cable was hanging loosely doing very little. Damn. My plan to reach 60km that morning was shattered as I had limited time to get it fixed before going away
this week, which meant I had to go home and
 get to a bike shop before my seminar.
 Luckily the guys fixed it on the spot for me! Phew!

 I had forgotten about leeches in Australia. The only time I had ever been up close and personal with them was while trekking in Nepal. While I was checking out the cable I saw a brown thing on my bike. I thought it was a worm and went to flick it away and then I saw its little sucker. ARGH! LEECH! Cue waterbottle and the jet stream that followed and the little guy was gone. AHA! Take that! No blood for you!

Downhills hurt
When you are climbing uphill, all you want is to get to the top, and then go down the hill. Trying Akuna Bay for the first time I discovered that downhill hurts too! The kind of hill that goes on, and on, and on, and on, and ON! Not knowing the road very well, I sat on the brakes most of the time. Being a Learner Cyclist, I am still not great on the drops. They're fine on a road I know, with a smooth surface and on a hill that doesn't require braking. When I need to brake I get into trouble. I have incredibly small hands, so on the drops, or on the hoods I struggle to reach the brakes. When you add this to a big stretch of steep downhill..... all I can say is OWWW! Hand cramps!

Cycling gloves and chain grease do not mix!
I took a friend cycling on Sunday to reattempt my 60km goal (as I had to abandon ship after the previously mentioned technical difficulties). I leant them a pair of my brand spankas cycling gloves. They were pretty, which is hard to find in the land of cycling gloves. Most are black and masculine looking. These were a nice grey suede and had white on top. However, when the chain falls off and gets jammed between the teeth on the cogs, this colouring is not so ideal! My previously clean gloves were now a new shade of black.
Pondering how I was going to get the grease out of my gloves I did what any Y-Genner would and turned to google. Amongst the crazy suggestions were shampoo, dawn dishwashing liquid, hairspray and hand degreaser. The list goes on. One that caught my attention was WD-40. Really? Spray oil on grease? I asked my dad, and apparently it made perfect sense!

So off i trotted to the garage and grabbed some RP-7 (the poor man's WD-40) and coated my gloves in a layer of smelly oil.
I let them soak for 5 mins and then coated them in a layer Morning Fresh. Apparently the WD-40 cuts the grease, and then the Morning Fresh removes the oil. I had lost all hope of reviving my gloves, but the results were astounding! Not 100% perfect but pretty close!

This brings me to the next lesson. When using this technique, GO OUTSIDE! Do not use the kitchen sink! My house smells of WD-40! It is horrible and lingers. The other lesson is don't smell the gloves. It lingers in them too! Although I think some outside-time in the sun might help. As a side note, this doesn't work with plasticy fabrics. My white plastic shell wasn't so lucky. But such is life.

Actually, these were all just lessons from the weekend! I wonder what is in store for me this week. I'm off to Cairns for work for the week. Roxy is all packed up in her bike bag and ready to go!

Please help me reach my goal of $2500 to help Redkite help children with cancer and provide much needed support to their families.

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