Our MBC teams (fast vs social) completed the “50km” route.
Our MBC teams (fast vs social) completed the “50km” route.
Some months ago I registered for Ride The Night, a public event organised by Bicycle Network held on the last Saturday in January, where participants decorate their bicycles (and sometimes themselves) as brightly as possible with lights, glow sticks, glow in the dark paint, sometimes funny costumes, and ride a set course around Melbourne from midnight Saturday to the wee hours of Sunday morning. The event is run in a few of our capital cities; in Melbourne, the charity participants are encouraged to fundraise for is Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS).
With a fine and warm weather forecast, it looked like an awesome weekend… but the fly in the ointment came in the form of the dregs of a recent cold, and accompanying cough. Urgh. It would probably have been sensible not to have a late night out, but a commitment had been made, and donations paid, so off I went to ride the night away – or at least as much as I could manage!
Was this year’s good weather simply “third time lucky” for Ride The Night’s organisers? It’ll be a long time before I forget the thunderstorm that passed over the start line last year, our group huddling and shivering together over our bikes – along with hundreds of others – using my cape to try to shield my chain from having all it’s lube washed off, and praying no one got struck by lightning. No, thankfully this year was dry!
There were a few changes from last year; Albert Park was the only start/finish point this year and the start time had been brought forward from midnight to 11pm, which caught myself and a quite a few others out. This wasn’t a bad thing, as it meant riders weren’t as bunched up along the route, the queues at the rest stops were shorter, and I think we felt more comfortable riding at our own pace.
Fund raising and ‘novelty’ events such as Ride The Night attract many people with a wide variety of experience, who ride all manner of bicycles. Not all participants are used to either night riding or riding in groups, but thankfully the roads are generally quieter in the middle of the night and there was also plenty of support in the form of WARBY’s (the “We Are Right Behind You” volunteers dispersed along the ride), mechanics at rest points, and emergency services for people who came off their bikes.
While I have reasonably regular practice with both night and group riding, my plan was to pace myself (to keep my coughing in check), and try to last the distance. Although I’d headed out on this ride alone, I was hoping to see one or two others I knew who were also riding. I was doing well in keeping to my plan until I reached the turn around point at Luna Park, St Kilda – that’s where Jane, another member of Melbourne Brompton Club, and her friends caught up with me. Coughing be damned! I traded longevity for company and increased pace… and enjoyed myself immensely.
Despite being part of a small group, despite the ride being strung out this year, we still managed to lose someone at the first rest stop – they kept going, we thought they were behind… you know how it goes. On the up side, in our race to catch-up and re-group I guess we showed a few people that small wheels aren’t at all limiting. Quite the opposite, as we proved to a group of riders who were grumbling about the “hill start” on Southbank Boulevard, turning onto St Kilda Road. “Blimey” was the comment I heard from somewhere behind as we shot off the mark, but I guess we had an unfair advantage, what with our small wheels and all…
The next rest stop after Port Melbourne was at the Burnely Bouldering Wall (under the Citilink motorway). I’d always wanted to check out this place on our many rides past. Tonight it was dominated by bicycle riders and live music.
Pushing on, we rode back downriver to the CBD, and up to the Melbourne Museum. By this stage I knew I was reaching the end of my ride. Was Exhibition Street hill the final straw? Or was it just a steady burn out? We hadn’t ridden very many kilometres, but it was quite a few more than I’d managed recently and I was hoping to snatch a couple of hours sleep before my next ride – a Melbourne Brompton Club ride to Brighton and back!
As we glided to a halt at the rest stop beneath the sheltering wings of Melbourne Museum’s front entrance, I felt the love I always do for two of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings; the majestic UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building, and the distinctly modern, glass and metal Melbourne Museum adjacent to it. Tonight the illuminated words #RIDETHENIGHT were there so that everyone with a camera (i.e. everyone) would be able to show their slumbering family and friends what fun they’d missed out on.
(And because I love these buildings so much, here’s a couple of them in daylight:)
As the ride continued north along Canning Street towards the Capital City Trail, it was time for me to turn off and make my way home. It had been fun, but I was too pooped to pop, as the expression goes.
My favourite moment of the night was probably hearing a grandma participant giving a sharp retort to someone on the side of the road. He was being a… twit, let’s say, and she wasn’t going to take any nonsense (to put it politely). Never mess with a granny! They know how to bite back! She was one of three or four grandma’s riding along in their pink tutu’s – undoubtedly putting others more than half their age to shame! #GoGranny!
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated to my ride. Without your donations I may not have ridden out. I stuck with it because the physical representation of the community’s support for assisting disaffected youth is just as important in some ways as the money we raised.
Apologies for the short notice, but with two Bromptoneers visiting from overseas this weekend, we have to offer another ride!
The route choices are:
- Brighton Beach Boxes
- City sights (Botanic Gardens, maybe a punt on the lake), riding by the sporting venues etc
- Half Capital City Trail including Melbourne Uni and Royal Park
The poll is currently live on our FaceBook page. If you’d like to join this ride and aren’t a member of our FB group, please comment below!
I’ll update this post with the winning option by Saturday.
As usual, the start of the ride will be 10am at Federation Square, opposite Flinders Street Station.
Until then, happy riding everyone!
UPDATE: By popular vote, our ride this Sunday will be to the Brighton Beach Boxes!
See you at 10am at Federation Square, on the steps opposite Flinders Station. 😀
Do you want to ride to work, but the prospect of arriving drenched in sweat is holding you back?So, what to do?
A good start is to make the most of the intermittent hot days in spring to prepare for your summer ride to/from work.
Here are my top 10 tips to keep riding comfortably through summer:
- Carry a water bottle
I don’t bother with a bottle cage on my Brompton; my water bottle is down the side of my gamebag where I can reach it easily when stopped at traffic lights. I always take a water bottle on my commutes – winter or summer.
Just as important as taking water with you, is not leaving home already dehydrated. Have a drink – even if it’s only a mouthful or two of water – before you leave home.
- Have a cold drink waiting at work/home
The best way to start cooling down once you’ve stopped riding is to have a cold drink. Just chilled in the fridge, not frozen in a freezer. Everyone will be different, but on hot days I drink about 500mL of water in the first 15-20min after arriving at work, and as I feel thirsty after that. The hotter it is, the more you’ll consume.
- Don’t race
When you ride, the muscles doing the most work are also the largest muscle groups in your body – so even though you might feel cool as you whizz along, the breeze generated by your pedal power stops cooling the sweat beading on your skin as soon as you stop pedalling. That is why it feels like there’s a sudden rush of heat just after you stop riding. So don’t race. Allow extra time for your commute and take your time. You’ll still appreciate your cold drink once you get to work or arrive home, but and “recovery period” will be quicker.
- Leave home earlier/Leave work later
If you can, try to leave home earlier and leave work later to avoid as much of the daylight (and therefore direct heat) as possible. Depending on your schedule, you may find vehicle/bicycle/pedestrian traffic is less busy, too. On my route there is a noticeable difference in the number of cyclists I share my commute with if I leave even 10min later, and a distinct difference another 10min after that.
Arriving at work early will also mean you have time to cool down and change clothes, if necessary.
- Consider changing your route
Can you take a route that is shadier? Maybe one that involves fewer roads and more shared paths through parks. Not only will the ride be more relaxing, but there will be less reflected energy from trees and grass and even a concrete path than there is from buildings and bitumen roads where you’re also contending with heat radiating from the road surface and being generated from the traffic around you.
You may need to leave even earlier to take a less direct path, but you may find it pays off in a more pleasant, less stressful ride.
- Take a change of clothes
It takes a bit of trial and error but you do get a feel for what to wear, and when. For example, I know if the temperature is over >18C (and taking into consideration what the afternoon temperature is predicted to be) I should consider wearing shorts and a t-shirt on my morning ride rather than work clothes. Below <18C I might wear my work pants and a t-shirt, and change into my work blouse once I’ve arrived at work.
I don’t have change room facilities at my workplace, so changing clothes – or not getting work clothes sweaty – is something I’m quite conscious of.
- Wear wool
The best way to not feel sweaty in your clothes is to wear wool. Yes, even in summer! No, not the kind knitted by grandma while watching daytime TV. What I mean is today’s superfine merino type of wool.
Not only is wool very comfortable, it breathes, has legendary wicking properties, it’s biodegradable, easy to find online or in stores, and available in everything from underwear to outer wear, in men’s, women’s and children’s casual or formal garments. Superfine merino wool also doesn’t get smelly – and when you’ve arrived at work, sweaty (despite taking it easy), possibly with no locker or area to hang your damp clothes, the last thing you want is to stuff your riding clothes into a bag and have to face the stinky pile of it later – let alone put it back on! Or worse – have it stink out your area at work. Ew! Thank goodness wool won’t do that.
No, it’s not cheap. But you can shop around and even buy Australian made, or at least garments from Australian owned companies. On sale you can pick up some basic items at cheaper prices than better known brands.
Check out the following Aussie champions:
Bluey Merino (basic items for active wear)
I/O Merino (more range, getting creative, mostly active wear)
Hedrena (fashion, some active wear. Sell ladies underwear in a style that’s more than just half a hankie of material!)
Smitten merino (fashion, some active wear)
- Suncream, sunglasses, and visor
If your route exposes you to the sun for extensive periods, especially if you’re riding directly into the sun, consider applying suncream (sunscreen) before you set off.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare, not just insects flying along or things flicking up from the path or road.
Buy a helmet that comes with a visor, or try a proper cycling cap. Wearing a baseball cap or visor beneath your helmet is not recommended, as explained in this article.
- Finish your morning routine at work
Concerned about helmet hair? Sweat ruining your makeup?
Allow time to fluff or re-style your hair, to put on make up, and feel presentable after you’ve cooled down at work. There’s no point doing all these things at home and then feeling like your efforts have been wasted by the time you arrive at your destination. Try new styles that will still look good when not every hair is perfectly in place. Be bold and adventurous!
- Be proud of who you are
You don’t want to wear shorts because you haven’t shaved or waxed lately? I feel like saying “So what?”, but I admit I’ve had those thoughts and felt that self-induced shame many, many times too.
But the truth is other people will only think it’s a big deal if you act like it’s a big deal – and maybe not even then. Don’t stop doing things you enjoy because of what you think others may think.
So go on. Get out and ride to work this summer! Just make sure you plan ahead and ride sensibly for the conditions.
If you have tips on how to improve your ride or commute on those hot summer days, why not leave a comment below? : )
Sometimes your favourite bike isn’t the most practical one to choose for the task at hand.
Just like with shoes, even though we may have a favourite ‘go to’ pair, we still have a range of different shoes to suit different needs: indoor shoes, shopping shoes, hiking shoes, gym shoes, flip flops, ugg boots or knitted slippers, going-out shoes…
In the following post, instead of trying to make her current bike fit the task, Tina of Wheel Women has chosen a Brompton for her upcoming travel, due to the flexibility afforded by the compact folding design.
Thanks for sharing your experiences thus far, Tina! Look forward to more great posts! : )
Did I touch wood at just the right moment when reading the forecast for this weekend? Or did I throw a cat over my shoulder and not the let salt cross my path? Maybe it was because there were 8 of us on the ride…
However it was that today turned out to be so good when the forecast was for rain (and plenty of it), somehow luck came our way and no one was complaining about it, that’s for sure!
With our Around The Bay ride only two weeks away, this months’ ride was the perfect opportunity for a few of us to get a longer ride in before the big day. A 50km ride might not seem like much to some people, but we all have to start somewhere.
The ‘somewhere’ that we started today was Cow Up A Tree at Docklands. Say what you want about Docklands (and most people will), at least it’s colourful down there. Cory and Miss 10-and-a-half amused us with a game of imaginary table tennis while we waited for late-comers.
Ping pong over (I think they lost the ball) we decided no one else was going to show up and headed off to Footscray to follow the Maribyrnong River Trail. Making our way along Footscray Road it was impossible not to notice the large number of motorcycle riders roaring along. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed some of them seemed to be wearing suit jackets. Then when we stopped to cross the road, another wave of riders pulled up at the lights. I was fumbling too much with my phone in my pockets to be able to get a good photo of these smartly dressed folk on their mainly vintage motorbikes, but in answer to my “Are you doing a tweed ride?” as we crossed with the lights in front of them, the reply came back, “We’re the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride”. Although, if you’re prepared to dress up, ladies are also allowed to join in the fun!
I hadn’t heard of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride before, but it’s clearly a world-wide event. The ride raises money for the November Foundation, so good on them!
Unlike on previous rides, the Maribyrnong River Tail was very quiet today. No rowers in the river, not many walkers/joggers/bicyclists using the trail – it’s very clearly school holiday time. Even so, the path along the river is not quite wide – or deserted – enough to allow more than single-file riding food a good few k’s until we reached Chifley Drive.
Crossing the bridge to the north side of the river is your sign that the going is about to get a little tougher. There’s a nice switch-back section up a steep-sided hill, and five turns later when you realise there’s still more hill to climb, it can get tough…
But the view is worth it!
Cameras and phones came out to take advantage of the view, and shortly after that so did the snacks. And there we might well have stayed for even longer than we did, talking bikes, watching birds, eating Snakes (the confectionary kind!) had it not been for the cool breeze stealing our warmth.
We didn’t go any further along the trail. At the bottom of the other side of hill the trail is unpaved, and given it’d rained pretty much all of last night, we’d be riding through mud. While I would have done so if the group wanted to, the thought of all that girt accumulating under my mudguards made me cringe – I’d already cleaned a Brompton this weekend! I was happy when we all decided to make the hill our turn-around point today.
Miss 10.5 showed off her cornering skills on the ride down the hill – you can really come a cropper if you try to take it too fast! – and proved that she too can ride a Brompton just as well as the rest of us! Whether the same can be said for Cory riding her bike, well… let’s just say one of the pair was more comfortable than the other with the swap.
Our little group split up on the ride back; Paul farewelled us at the bottom of the zigzag hill, Cory and Miss 10.5 waved goodbye shortly after we left the river. Stanley and I farewelled Greg, Adam and Monica on reaching Capital City Trail – they headed one way to get to the city via Docklands, we headed upriver and parted ways at Flemington Bridge.
If you’d like to see what riding along with us was like, check out Paul’s YouTube video:
While we don’t have an “official” time or distance for this ride, I’m sure we all enjoyed it (which is the main aim of all our rides). Good company, good luck with the weather, and another ride – our 50km Around The Bay – to look forward to in two weeks time!
If you would like to sponsor our efforts in this year’s Around The Bay, please click one of the links below. All donations – and ONLY the donations – go to support The Smith Family help needy children. The riders’ registration fees only pay for Bicycle Network to organise and run the event.
Cory / Velo Cycles Team (They’ll all be riding Bromptons!)
If you’re inspired to JOIN us on the ride you’d better get in quick! Register here.
Otherwise don’t forget these dates:
- September is almost over, therefore so is Brompton’s Demo Month and your chance to win a Brompton just by test riding a Brompton at your local dealer. More details in store. #TryBrompton
- If you can’t make the Around The Bay ride, Sydney is hosting their first Brompton Urban Challenge on Saturday 8 October 2016. Registrations close soon, so get in fast to enjoy this scavenger hunt-type ride around Sydney! Register here: http://www.brompton.com/Events/Posts/2016/Event-BUC-Sydney #BUCSYD
- Ride to Work Day is Wednesday 12 October – rain or shine, that is the one day you should definitely start (or re-start) your #Ride2Work goals for the year (if you haven’t already). Get some colleagues to do it with you, make it fun, grab some breakfast on the way. Velo Cycles is not just doing breakfast for those passing them on the Capital City Trail… they’re also taking care of people who #RideHomeFromWork! How fantastic is that?! #YourBikeYourWayEveryDay
- Our next end-of-month ride will likely be 30 October – we might even make it a themed ride (Halloween springs to mind again), but stay tuned for more details closer to the date.
Happy riding everyone! : )
A grungy sound coming from ‘somewhere below my saddle’ may just be what started my near-obsession with cleaning my Brompton. I’d only had my Brompton a short time, so to be told this worrying noise was simply caused by dirt under the rear guard was something of a shock, although given the fine (and damp) sandy/gravel surfaces I’d been riding it on, not too much of a surprise on reflection.
Mind you, Melbourne’s streets often don’t seem much better. A light rain shower and your brake pads to sound like sandpaper pressing against rims dirty from road grime. Some heavier rain and there’s sand washed all over the roads from tram tracks – along with other gutter muck.
It’s definitely time to clean your bike.
To do a thorough job, I allow myself a couple of unrushed hours. Cleaning my Brompton is a task I find relaxing and very satisfying, so I like to take my time. I do, however, appreciate that not everyone finds their zen in this fashion.
Pleasure or chore, cleaning your Brompton regularly means you’re giving it a close up inspection and potentially identifying a problem when it’s small rather than when it’s bigger and more costly to fix. A loose nut, a wobbly spoke, a bit of glass worming its way deeper into your tyre…
There are many ways to clean your Brompton. But first, here’s what NOT to do:
You do NOT want to get water in your hubs, nor do you want to force water into any other sealed parts such as the lower bracket, bearings or hinges.
Here’s what I prefer to use:
- A clean, soft cotton rag to wipe off the dirt and grime. You can use paper towels if you have to, but you’ll go through a lot more.
- Tooth picks to get dirt and grime out of hard to reach crevasses
- Bicycle-specific wash for harder to clean bits and to wipe over the frame at the end
- Brake & Metal parts cleaner for the seat stem – use with a separate, clean rag
- Chain lube to re-lubricate the chain (heavy or light, depending on conditions)
- Superglue to patch any holes in my tyres when I dig out fragments of glass
Working from top to bottom, front to back, leaving the dirtiest parts (the sprocket(s), chainring and chain) until last, I clean or wipe over everything I see until there are no spots or smudges.
Don’t let the apparent simplicity of the front half of the bike misled you into thinking there isn’t much to clean. There are plenty of nooks and crannies around the brake calipers, getting the rag under the forks to do the guard properly, and don’t forget to polish up the headset and wipe grease from around the hinges.
Guaranteed to be dirty after any ride, the bottom bracket is easy to clean from the left side of your Brompton. Ensure the rag is clean if you wipe out the saddle stem tube.
I find a bit of bike wash on the rag really helps get some stubborn muck off the pedals.
The left (non-chain) side is always a bit cleaner (or less-dirty) so I do that side first. Release your rear triangle so you can inspect the frame from all angles as there is a lot to clean at this end. The spokes are much more likely to be dirty on the rear wheel due to their proximity to the chain, so definitely give them a wipe before you get to the hub.
After cleaning the frame parts, brake calipers, mudguard and struts on the chain side, it’s time to look at the chain tensioner and sprockets. A lot of grime builds up here, and there’s not much point trying to clean your chain if it’s just going to keep collecting grime from this area. Taking off the chain tensioner is not something I do every clean; you can still clean the sprockets to some extent with the chain tensioner still in place.
If you do take off the chain tensioner, why no go the whole hog and remove the wheel entirely. That’ll give you the best access to the inside of the rear triangle and the underside of the mudguard to clean!
Chainring next; back, front and teeth.
And finally – the chain! Rub your cloth back and forth along the chain until it’s clean. If there are still globs of grim in between the links I use a tooth pick to poke them out. When I’m done cleaning off the grease, I re-lubricate my chain, wiping off any excess lube with a clean part of my rag.
Re-attach the chain tensioner, put the Brompton pump back on and your Brommie is clean again! If you didn’t do it before, now is a good time to check your tyres for glass and other foreign objects that might be about to cause a puncture. This job is much easier if you fully deflate your tyres first; when you squeeze the sides of the tyre it makes it much easier to pry the glass out of the tread with a toothpick or pair of tweezers. Seal the hole with a dab of superglue. Be careful not to flick glass into your eyes!
Wipe over with a squeeze of bike wash on a clean rag because you’ve probably touched something clean with dirty fingers somewhere, and you’re done!
So that’s how I prefer to clean my bikes, but when it rains on the way to work I have only a fraction of that time to clean up, so in 20min I’ll grab a few paper towels and towel off the water from my Brommie, making sure to give a quick wipe over the:
- inside of the front forks
- bottom bracket
- rear triangle and just under the guard where grit builds up
- rims, from & back (I usually wipe over the Stermy Archer hub and rear spokes while I’m there anyway)
- chain (and re-lube if required)
I don’t have anything fancy to wash my hands with at work, but I’ve found a bit of chain lubricant does wonders to lift the grease and grime, before a squirt of liquid soap or washing up detergent finishes the job.
Now both you and your Brompton are clean again, it must be about time to go get dirty!
Happy riding! 😀
In preparation for our upcoming 50km Around The Bay ride, this month we’ve planned a longer ride – back to the Brighton Bathing Boxes!
Meeting Point: Federation Square
Meeting Time: 9:30am
Destination: Brighton Bathing Boxes, west end of Dendy Street, Brighton East
Estimated Distance: 33km
Essential items: Food and drink
As this is a training ride there won’t be frequent stops for group photos (yes, I will survive!) and we will be trying to lift our average pace a little.
While we won’t leave any stragglers behind, if you don’t feel up to the return trip due either to unfavourable weather conditions (it can get windy around the bay) or tiredness, there are two train stations near to our turn around point – Middle Brighton and Brighton Beach stations.
We are not planning to stop for breaks on the way there or back, so you would be advised to bring enough drink and a snack (fruit, muslie bar) to munch on when we have a quick rest stop at Brighton Beach.
Don’t be afraid to join in. We have not turned into a “finish first or die trying” group. We are still about having a good day out, but at the same time want to lift the average pace and finish in a reasonable time.
Don’t hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment below (doesn’t have to be public – just say so and I won’t publish it) or join the conversation on our Facebook page.
Around the Bay – Ride for a Child in Need (formerly, BUPA Around the Bay, formerly Around the Bay in a Day) is a bit of a Melbourne staple and, really, something that any ‘cyclist’ needs to check off their list.
The ‘real’ around the bay is 210km (or a longer 250km route is available), however they also run shorter 165, 130, 100, 50 and 20km routes.
This year, a crew from MBC, as well as some of our good friends from Velo, are taking on the 50km route – and of course, all on Bromptons! From Alexandra Gardens (behind the boat sheds) it goes over the Westgate Bridge and down to Altona, then back again. (Yes, over the bridge a second time).
If you want to come along, you can register here. The event is run by Bicycle Network and is extremely well supported. It’s all on-road, but there’s great signage, wonderful volunteers and even some bike-only lanes to make it easier.
If you don’t want to ride, you can still help out with our fundraising by sponsoring here. (The Smith Family help to provide education to kids from underprivileged backgrounds. Many Around the Bay riders mistakenly think their registration is going to The Smith Family – alas it is only sponsorships they receive).