Archive for the 'Cryptovelology' Category

Bike Lanes Campaign: I Need Spy Glasses!

So I am back on my bike after a week and a half forced hiatus due to the gravity-induced stack I had recently, and I am back with a campaign. That’s right, I am on a campaign. Since I have been back on my bike, I have missed out on photographing some amazing things, so I am appealing to the community to help me fund the purchase of some really ugly Camera Glasses. I realise that the readership of this blog is limited to not very many people, but, if all of those not very many people were to donate two dollars, I would be able to entertain you with amazing 1.3 megapixel photographs of the exciting world of action and adventure that happens on my daily commute.

If you doubt the amazingness of the sights I witness while cycling, then listen to this…. The very best thing I have seen since cycling again was definitely a guy on a fixie which had been converted from a crappy old ten speed. He found no need to get a new rear hub, he had just pulled off the derailleur and chose the gear he liked best, leaving the rest as ‘bike bling’ or whatever the hell you would call it. Come to think about it, I’m not sure it was fixed, but he had no brakes, but that doesn’t mean much these days. OK, so all of that is not amazing in itself, but let me tell you about his mud guards (or fenders, for the hemispherically challenged readers out there). Seeing a fixie or singlespeed with mud guards is pretty rare anyway, and we have all seen people’s innovative/desperate efforts at keeping their arses dry in wet weather while riding, but this one tops everything I, and probably you, have ever seen. Instead of going out and purchasing a nice neat pair of mud guards, this rider has fashioned a pair out of corflute. You know, the corrugated plastic coated board that is often used to make real estate signs, well it also makes stylish, low cost mud guards. I never would have thought, but the addition of severely large pieces of corflute to a bicycle make a serious statement about how far one will go to keep ones nether regions dry. As I had no camera, here is a photoshopped mock-up of a similar (but nicer looking) bike with the addition of corflute mud guards (or fenders).
fixe-corflute
Imagine my delight at coming upon this visionary piece of mobile art being trackstood on at the lights, but the horror of not having a means of photographing it. So here I appeal to you,dear reader, to assist me in bringing to you the latest and greatest in on the street fashion and style. Also, imagine the despair that will abound if I manage to miss out on capturing such elusive beasts as the hypothetical and very rare fixie with Sydney Opera House mud guards/fenders:
fixe-opera_house
Or if I ever see this thing on the streets, and am unable to capture it in all its glory:
phantom_bike
So I appeal to you, once more dear reader, help rid the world of not being able to see weird and strange bicycles as they appear in their natural habitat. Donate today, and help me to help you see some crazy shit.

Til then, ride safe.

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2009: Bicycle Oddities

OK, so after my little rant yesterday I thought I would lighten the mood with a selection of the silly things people do with/to bicycles these days.

First up we have a Seesaw Bike, which looks to be a double fixie/singlespeed which is ridden with another person in a seesaw-style. I’m not too sure if this will take off, but who knows…
seesaw-bike
Next we have the back-to-front tandem kinda bike, which is somewhat similar to the seesaw-style, but the riders face away from each other. This could come very useful on those rides with that special someone that you really don’t like that much.
bi-cycle-model
If you are a sporty type, which I am not I’m afraid, you might on occasion be faced with the dilemma of whether to run or to cycle. If you fall into this category, you might want to get yourselves one of these Jump Bikes. I’m not quite sure why it is called a Jump Bike, as there doesn’t seem to be much jumping going on with it. You hop on to the saddle, then instead of pedalling, you run. I don’t quite understand the thought process behind this idea, but as they say….. er, I can’t remember what they say but I’m sure it makes sense.
jump-bike

So, if you can’t decide between running and cycling because you have fancy sneakers you want to show off, then this next one is the bike for you! Now for some inexplicable reason here, the wheelset has been replaced by aerospoke-like rims which carry an array of running shoes in which you “ride” on. Hmmm. Again, I’m not so sure this is for me.
walking-bike

OK, so maybe odd tandems or running bikes aren’t for you. Perhaps I can interest you in the Sideways Bike. It has been hailed as the first major development in bicycle design for 150 years. The Sideways Bike has a steerable wheel with a set of handlebars at either end. Again, I really don’t quite understand the point of this. Apparently it’s more maneuverable than a regular front-back bike, but I can’t imagine that cycling sideways could be particularly effective. Instead of looking ahead into traffic you would be looking into the cars next to you . Perhaps this is a more sociable form of cycling, but I’d say you’d either end up with a really stiff neck, or crushed underneath something heavy.
sideways-bike
Now if you think all of these bikes are impractical and silly, then try this on for size. Here we have the “best circular bike ever made….. by a guy whose last name starts with W.” If that isn’t confidence that I don’t know what is. Now despite the fact that this bike will never get you anywhere, I still think it’s pretty cool, for some reason. So here we are, the Circular Bike.
circular-bike
All of these bikes are unlikely to ever be seen anywhere except bicycle freakshows, but if you ever happen to see someone riding one of these contraptions, please keep your distance, and take lots of photos!

Ride safe over the weekend.

Adelaide, in search of…..

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to travel to Adelaide for my work. For those of you who have never been to Adelaide, it is a very quiet small town with hardly any buildings in the CBD. In fact I had to check with my taxi driver that we were in fact in the CBD. I am used to buildings, people, traffic and all the usual trappings of urban life, but Adelaide had little of this. What it did have though, was bike lanes on every street in the city. It is also the flattest place I have ever been in my life. There are hills surrounding the outskirts of the city, but the place itself is super flat. This combined with the abundance of bike lanes would make it an ideal commuter town. You could even cycle to the airport if you were travelling lightly, as it is only about 5km from the city centre.

I had some downtime upon arrival, so after checking my stuff into the palace in which I was staying I took a walking bicycle tour of downtown Adelaide. Initially I was surprised by the lack of bikes everywhere. Being such a flat town with copious bicycle friendly infrastructure I thought the place would be swarming with fixies, hybrids and crappy old mountain bikes. It wasn’t though. The bike lanes did pick up steam after an hour or so, with more commuters taking advantage of the flat spread, but I still was yet to see a fixed-gear bike. This became my mission, to find the fixies in Adelaide. So I beginning my quest, I came across this folding bike with what looks like a Brooks saddle on it.
folding-bike-dude
I must admit the saddle does play off nicely with the cyclists’ helmet, and the interplay between those earthy shades and the yellow canvas shoes is very nice. But, despite the niceness, it was still no fixie, so I continued my search. One of the other things I noticed was that in Adelaide there must be a higher crime rate than in Melbourne, as many bike were double-locked. In Melbourne it is a rare sight to see a bike with two locks on it, but in Adelaide any old Avanti was more secure than Fort Knox, which I found interesting, just not interesting enough to photograph. So after an hour or so, I was still yet to see a fixie in Adelaide. I turned down a laneway and nearly stopped dead. Had I found it, Adelaide’s fixie? It had spoke cards and a strangely mounted brake-lever so it fit the general profile of a fixed-gear bike. I approached the bicycle with caution. This is what I had found.
faux-fixie1
At first glance it seemed to be what I was searching for. Weird bar grips, oddly placed brake-lever, spoke cards, but on closer inspection it turned out I had gotten it wrong, so very wrong.
faux-fixie2
It seems that this beast was actually a converted crappy old ten speed with the derailleurs removed. This is a simple and effective method of single-speed conversion, if you don’t mind the extra weight of carrying around a few extra cogs, it’s fine. The thing that really made this bike for me though was the fine selection of Magic The Gathering spoke cards! I don’t know much about this game, except that it’s practitioners are usually even nerdier than myself (which is pretty damned nerdy!) so I don’t really understand what “power” these cards may hold, and their relevance to being used as spoke cards. For all I know the cards may ward off the dreaded Metal Beast, thus repelling both cars and Metallica fans, which are both of abundance in Adelaide.
faux-fixie3
So I still hadn’t found the elusive Adelaide fixie yet, but it was time for me to go to work. Thankfully my work occasionally involves standing around with a camera, so I was delighted when I spotted Adelaide’s fixed-gear bike. The photo is a bit crappy because I didn’t want to scare him off with a flash, but with a bit of “photo” “shopping” I was able to bring out at least the read mud-guard, or “filth-prophylactic.” One of the guys I was working with did inform me that there actually was plenty of fixies in Adelaide, but they were mostly vegan, which makes some sort of sense, at least in a global-cultural way. I’m not sure if being a vegan in Adelaide somehow makes you not want to cycle to the city, but I am pretty sure the guy I saw on a fixie was about to head to the steakhouse across the street.
real-fixie-fix
A little later in the evening I found a paradoxical example of Adelaide’s bike locking protocols. I mentioned earlier that I had witnessed double-locked Avanti’s, but it seems that Huffy’s are undesirable to Adelaide’s cycling thieves. I guess crappy mountain bikes don’t need to be locked, at least not to a pole. It appears that it is sufficient to lock them to themselves, or at least have a lock on the top tube. This bike stayed unstolen all night, and even as I walked back to the hotel at 3am, it was still unstolen. The solution to double-locking your Avanti seemed clear, ride a Huffy instead.
bike-locking
‘Til next time Adelaide, fix up look sharp, and don’t forget to lock.

Hip Hop Hispters and Stoned Experiments.

While cruising around some cycling sites this morning I came across this gem of a music video by a man named MC SpandX. Feel free to knock yourselves out with this one….

It seems that Mr SpandX has some issues with fixed-gear riders, and addresses this in quite a humourous way. I quite like his “crew” of dancing girls, and the chorus has been ringing in my head all day. I think I need a drink, or something stronger…..

Speaking of something stronger, over on fixed.org I found a link to these amazing pictures at Fixed Gear Gallery. This must be the original stoner fixie, decked out in Rasta red, gold and green, and complete with a marijuana leaf decal on the front. By the way this bike is set up, it looks like it is being ridden by some kind of stoned giant. I assume that the seat is tilted in such an extreme way so he can suck down some bongs while trackstanding at the lights. Now that I would love to see.
rasta-bike1
rasta-bike2
Perhaps the owner could hook up with this guy, who has taken his love of cycling and grass and “collabo’ed” it into a singularly hideous experiment.
lawnmower_bike
Perhaps the two have hooked up, and that would explain the existence of such a thing as this….
weird-bike
I actually managed to sneak into the workshop of these two stoner-extraordinaire cyclists and stole the designs for a new series of mind altering bicyles they were planning on constructing.
wierd-bikes
Hopefully I got hold of the only copy, otherwise you might get a nasty surprise on your next ride.

Fixed, and free.

the-age_fixies

So the fixed gear trend has hit the mainstream here in Melbourne with an article about fixie culture appearing on the front page of The Age’s website. Sure, it was only the lead story for about an hour, but that is still something to behold. When I first loaded the page and saw bicycles, I initially thought it was a Tour De France story, probably something about Cadel, but no…. it was the real deal. An article about the “connectedness of fixed gear cycling” and the people utilising this form of transport.

“The main market is uni students, the art crew, and people who are training — people who are doing competition. They’re a bit of a fashion statement and there’s a lot of customising you can do.”


“Fixies can be blinged out with bright, shiny clean chains — sometimes the chains can be coloured,” said Mr Brennan. “The hubs can be coloured, they can be blinged with special narrow handlebars. They’re groomed like precious poodles.”

Now that my own bike is “blinged out” with a coloured chain, I am happy to know I almost fit within this subculture within subcultures, and although I might love my bike, I would have to admit I have never groomed it like a precious poodle. I may have tried to get it to fetch sticks for me, and often offer it water after a lengthy ride, but I’d say my bike is more like a bike than a dog. At least for now.

Ghost bikes and expensive rides.

P1040026
I ran into a ghost bike recently. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a real ghost bike, as to my knowledge no cyclist had been killed outside that pizza shop, at least not recently. Perhaps, I thought, it was just a cool white bike. It’s hard to tell these days, what with bicycle style reaching new highs. Now that my own bike is becoming cool with its new white chain, I suppose I should raise my standards of bicycle stylishness. A few days ago I spotted this amazing beast on my morning commute.

P1040021

To me, this bike is the epitome of cool. It has everything, well it can carry everything at least. I have no doubt that the owner is as pleased with his ride as you can get. I assume that he left his trailer at home because he was only carrying a small load that day. Speaking of cool, I also recently found this news item about Jack Griffin, an 85 year old Gold Coast man who is going to ride the 1,680km from Brisbane to Cairns. He even forked out $11,000 for a Trek Madone, because that’s what Lance Armstrong rides. Fair enough. If he can afford that, then the best of luck to him. He expects to finish the ride in 18 days, which is pretty good. He is looking to buy his local hospital a Stress Machine with the funds raised by his journey. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is doing an admirable thing, but I would expect that the Stress Machine (whatever the hell that is…) would probably cost less than the bike that Jack will be riding is worth. Speaking of Lance, it looks like he is still in with a chance to finish at the top end of the Tour, although he was quite eclipsed by his teammate Alberto Contador in the last stage. I’m not sure how Lance is dealing with this, being forced down the ladder by his own teammate, but I’m sure he can always turn to recreational drug use with his good buddy Ben Stiller if his comeback goes astray.

On my grand tour on Friday evening I was on the second stage of my 3 stage commute when I was stuck behind one of those tourist horse and carriage rides that always use the bike lane. Just because they use bicycle lights doesn’t qualify them to use the bike lane in my opinion. But I suppose it beats getting stuck behind Cadel.
horse-carriage

Back from the past to the future to the past…

Last week, while commuting to work, I was treated to one of those “I wish I had a camera with me” moments. A magnificently bizarre sight came my way in the form of a very strange cyclist. Initially he wasn’t that bizarre, but as I was able to absorb more and more details, he became more and more fascinating. Initially, his appearance was farily straightforward for a high-tech roadie. He was wearing a full body black lycra suit, with a snug black racing jacket, topped off with an oversized white visored helmet. He did look rather odd, but no odder than many specimens I encounter on a usual day. The thing that caught my attention was his massive boots. They were chunky hiking style boots, but with cleat holding functionality on the sole. Now, I must mention that he was riding a Trek mountain bike. This was the next thing to really catch my attention. I’m not sure which model he was riding, but it seemed to be quite a decent machine. It slowly dawned on me, that it was modified to be a single speed bike, with suspension and a disc brake at the front, and a freewheel singlespeed with V-brakes on the rear. All topped off with road tyres as well. This example of cycling glory was one of the skinniest people I have ever laid my eyes upon, and I have lived with some skinny people, believe me. So with his massive boots and helmet he looked like some kind of futuristic law enforcement officer. Maybe a little something like this…..

thx-1138

This morning I was treated once again to this amazing sight, and for once, I even had a camera with me, so I can share with you, dear reader, the wonderment that is Future Cop.futurecop_2

You will notice his skinny attire and oversized boots, as well as his oversized helmet. You can almost see the front suspension in this shot, and the singlespeed conversion in the back. Note the road tires. Notice that Future Cop saw a friend of his on the side of the road. This friend had the appearance of some sort of wizard, and was equally as fascinating as Future Cop himself. Note the loaf of bread. Wizards need food too. I was unable to get any more snaps, as the unlikely pair stopped and chatted, while I rode off when the lights changed. It was a happy occasion indeed. I still couldn’t help wonder about the Future Cop rider. Who is he, where is he going, and why? Initially I assumed he actually was from another time, here to show us commuters the way of the future, but I have reconsidered this seeing as he has a friend in this world. I suppose the next obvious assumption would be that the Wizard is from the future as well, and was procuring a loaf of bread to take back to the future so reverse engineer and save the future of humanity. I would therefore assume the Wizard is holding the recipe in his other hand.