Pride and intolerance

Breathtaking scenery, hardly a car on the road, air like pure oxygen, no wire or glass on the road to cause your tires to go down, and no risk whatsoever of overheating in your winter woolies: enough to inspire a body to ride for six hours, which is what I did today.

As you will gather from many of these photos, my ride incorporated a race, but it needed’t have. The farmlands could as easily have been enjoyed on my retro balloon bike, with a tartan thermos of tea in a bottle cage. Road bikes are good though, for the sheer ground they cover. It is very satisfying seeing mountains up close that through the week you view from a distance, and knowing you crossed that valley yourself, in not much more than an hour.

It would be a little bit creepy if you noticed, without my pointing this out, but I have put on some weight since I was last racing. Alas, that was way back in May. 3 weeks gorging myself on French food, then all the hassle of moving house, means all my best trousers have had to be put to the back of the wardrobe, for now. They were bought and tailored for the 68kg me, not this 76kg thing I become each year after I go to Europe.  But never mind. My addiction to endorphins has always given me little to worry about, when it comes to my other addiction to food.

I’m drifting off topic. I didn’t want to write about lycra’s cruel trick of letting tummies balloon without notifying the wearer. I want to write about Scottish immigration to Tasmania’s Northern midlands, giving this region a stoicism that I swear you can feel.

Keenly awaiting Longford bridge becoming a cycle trail!

Longford

Theory: the popularity of bike racing in this part of the world, is a factor of it being cheap like a Scott, disciplined like a Scott, and kind of intolerant, like most Scotts I’ve known. I would be intolerant too, if I had cultivated Tasmania and managed to feed the world from it.

15 Comments

  1. Luke says:

    It looks a truly fabulous place to ride a bike, whether for sport or just fun. And I agree that bikes, particularly road bikes, offer a change of scenery- if you go for a run, you end up where you started, having gone nowhere and sweated a lot.

    But bike racing is cheap? From a man with a titanium bike, a Rapha habit and about ten bikes? Some things just don’t save you money – riding a bike, growing your own vegetables, or fishing (and don’t get me started on tying your own flies). Worthwhile, but let’s not kid ourselves.

    At some point, I’ll deal with scots – lots of countries seem to think they were founded by the scots (wonderful people, I’m partly one), but there just aren’t/ weren’t enough scots to go round. Consider the possibility that the Unglish (as the scots say) may have had a hand in colonisation. Uncool, supercilious, hygienically deficient, bad teeth, but lots of them.

    • Steven says:

      Hi Luke, a young man can grab a classic steel racer with down-tube shifters on ebay for $500 (then have it for transport), find some lycra on end-of year runout, then just need to contend with club fees and race entries, which are cheaper for juniors, and anyway still work out cheaper than soccer or cricket. That’s how I started racing. I was lucky, my second hand bike came with shoes and some old jerseys. So I actually made a lot more in prize money that I ever spent. My young wife made me race, for this reason.
      As I have become, I admit, I’m hardly the poster-boy for budget sports cycling. Though titanium lasts many times longer, so is the still the high-end cheap way to go.
      Statistically, English immigrants outnumbered Scottish ones to Tasmania, many times over. But the midlands farming region where we are racing, had mostly Scottish land owners.
      My wife’s grandfather was scottish. Fantastic guy. He only would have raced if it made money! I’m kinda proud to say too it was a former scottish champion, Jimmy Ewart, who taught me some of cycling’s dirtiest tricks to make money.
      Perhaps a longer reply than you were wanting:)

  2. Luke says:

    Ok, I relent. Maybe the fact that I would never make any money racing should not reflect on others with some natural aptitude. I still say it looks a great place to ride a bike.

    • Steven says:

      The money has gone out of amateur racing, with increased overheads such as insurance, traffic management and this confounded notion that local clubs should “support” junior riders with donations to send them to big races they (statically) lose.

  3. Paul says:

    Cycling nirvana eh. Lovely.
    “Road bikes are good though, for the sheer ground they cover.”
    Maybe, but recumbents are better. Speed at 250 watt: Racing bike 35kph; M5 Lowracer 43kph; add a fairing for 76.5kph
    (m5-ligfietsen.nl/site/EN/Why_an_M5/Measuring_results)

    and you can enjoy the scenery without craning your neck.

    • Steven says:

      Thank you Paul. I was waiting for that. Tasmania’s midlands are pleading with me to buy a velomobile. Which is the very best and most stylish model? Those sun-riders look nice, with the windscreen and soft-top. And how do I use my god-like status as a bike blogger to wrangle one free?

  4. Paul says:

    What are the road surfaces like? If it’s anything like NZ’s coarse chip seal you’ll want more suspension than is typically built into velomobiels designed only for slick city asphalt. In any case, it sounds like the best velomobiel will be the one whose maker can be persuaded by your god-like blogger status to discount into your budget. In the meantime a non-faired recumbent bike will see you cover 25% more terrain in the same time and cost about the same as a well-optioned Velorbis (and less than a racing bike.*) Troubles are: I don’t think there are any retailers in Tasmania; you’ve probably done all your spare dough relocating; your racing mates won’t let you play with them (the combined advantages of your already formidable prowess and the recumbent’s greater efficiency will be too much for them); and you may be so obsessed with the velomobiel that there’s no room for a simple ‘bent in your head.

    *eg M5 M-Racer €1827 m5recumbents.com/site/EN/Models/M-Racer

    • Steven says:

      no, it’s velomobile or nothing for me. As for the company of people on bunch rides… I have some great mates who are roadies and we’ve shared some great conversations. However, 51% of people on bunch rides serve to remind one, never to mix with the plebs.

  5. Paul says:

    So you’ll take considerable pleasure in setting off 5 minutes after they depart then overhauling the entire fleet within half an hour.

  6. Paul says:

    Squadron Leader Dr Behooving setting off to hammer everything:
    airflowinc.net/images/Planes/redbaron2002.jpg
    Wing woman Primrose in close formation:
    http://retropedalcars.com/ProductImages/images/lindsley/PedalCar7.jpg

  7. Paul says:

    Cheap but you have to build it yourself. Plans are US$24.75 and kits from $162 to $261. You’d have to pedal like fury though. Perhaps you should budget a bit more and add a 3 x 10 groupset as well. http://www.pedalplanekits.com

    • Steven says:

      Meet the new asia pacific dealer of pedal planes. Just joking. I want to leave that spot open for you 🙂

  8. Paul says:

    How many can I put you down for? Given your aspirations I recommend the oversized chainring option.

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