Category Archives: Equipment

Everyone should know about their equipment.

What to do with all those old rubber inner tubes??

Dear Roulers,

Alas, I’ve been busy at work and sick…sigh…again, resulting in this blog being sadly neglected….Booooooo!!!!!!!!.  However its a quiet Friday afternoon and all my co-workers have nicked off early so I’m doing some blogging.  This blog is a bit of hack job/outright theft of an article I read in the May 2017 version of Bicycle Times.  Hopefully the publisher’s lawyers won’t be pursuing me for copyright/IP theft :-).

No matter, this article resonated with MMT as he was wondering what the hell to do with all the old and crappy inner tubes he has.  The question being, if a tube has been patched 3 or 4 times, isn’t it time to let it go?  In this age of recycling shouldn’t there be another use for these things.  Well this arch-plagiarist thinks so. So here’s five really cool uses of old inner tubes.

   
Tie Down Straps
Go to a camping store and find some 1 inch buckles.  A 28mm tube should thread through fairly easily.  They are perfect for strapping things down to a rack, securing items to your handle bars or pretty much anything you might use a bungee cord for.
 Loops
These can be used to hold new inner tubes, holding tools together so they don’t rattle or even holding a flashlight on the handle bars.  Mountain bike tubes seems to work best.
   
Pant Cuff
This one requires a bit more work.  Find some velcro, super glue and a length of rubber.  Figure out the right length for securing your pants/jeans.  Alternately, you could sow the velcro on instead.
Protective Chain Cover
This is an awesome idea.  Thread your locking chain through the tube to stop it from scratching the bike frame or some other part.
 
Shoe Laces
This really surprised MMT.  Cut the length ways into strips of about 1 cm wide.  Follow the ribs of the tube so they are straight.  Cut them to length. Most laces are of the 55cm to 75cm variety.  Thread them through and tie them up.  You should be able to slip them on without untying them.

Now MMT did a smidge more research care of Google and found another set of interesting uses:

  • Fire starters: An inch-long bit wrapped around some kindling will start a fire, even in the rain.
  • Keep a bit of inner tube on your handlebars. Put it over the brake, locking your bike wheel, very useful when taking your bike on a train or bus.
  • Bits of inner tube make a great cushion between various attachments on your bike, much better than the insets that come with the items.
  • Wrap your D-Lock in inner tube to prevent damage to your bicycle’s paint.
  • Put inner tube on your rack. Your panniers will then fit perfectly and won’t rattle.
  • Inner tube make a great seal. It can be used to make lights waterproof.
  • Use as a seal round fuel or water bottles to stop them leaking

How about that for a list??

Until next time ride safe

Marv

Marv’s post-Christmas childcare blues

 

Dear Roulers,

The baton of primary child carer has been passed to me and I’m officially in ‘daddy daycare’ mode. My main job is to transition my darling daughter into childcare.  My wife, the other member of Team MMT, has had really mixed feelings about this, after having nearly 7 months leave. Alas all of us will need to return to our employment and keep our places in the great rat race that is working in Melbourne CBD.  Happily, our daughter seems to be adjusting to the transition.  We both draw solace from knowing that she’s being cared for in a centre nearby to our respective workplaces. 

So onto cycling, MMT is still recovering from his brush with pneumonia which has really reduced my horsepower.  This has taken some of the gloss MMT’s main Christmas present.  For Christmas, MMT received an annual membership to Rapha Cycle Club from his wife.  MMT rolled up to his first ride last week.  RCC operates 2 rides during the working week.  The Thursday one leaves from Elwood’s Turtle Cafe and cruises down to Mordialloc and returns via the Nepean Highway.  I should qualify that description of the route with “I think’ as this bunch has dropped me 2 out of 2 rides, after about 10kms. It’s happening on the ramp that leads into Blackrock.  MMT just can’t seem to find the grunt to keep up with these guys.

Much of what MMT has read suggests that to become a faster, better rider you have to start riding with people are better than you. So it seems I have had my wish granted. These guys are moving much quicker than what RCC App says is the overall speed for this ride. So I’m going to  have to suck this up and get back to shedding unwanted kilos and getting my pre-Christmas conditioning back. I’m hoping that another new member will turn up one morning and challenge me for latern rouge that I seem to keep ‘winning’.  May be I’ll form up the second bunch that that the Rapha app speaks of 😉  

So onto the main topic of this blog, my new Trek Domane SLR 6 Disc.  First let me say I’m in love.  Its taken me awhile to get used to the geometry and the stopping power of the disc brakes.  Here’s a picture of MMT’s new machine.

Its soooo beautiful. My Trek Domane SLR 6 Disc

The first couple of weeks were driving MMT a bit nuts as the relaxed geometry and bike fit were creating aches and pains in places that weren’t there before.  The most significant problem being the saddle, which seemed to be creating friction and soreness in a area that MMT would rather not have it.  So after a few adjustments in seat post height and saddle position, it looks like that problem is now resolved. So happily, it looks like I have the bike and enough conditioning to take on, at least, the 65km version of the Cadel Evan’s Peoples Ride next weekend.  A weeks ago I wasn’t sure that I had either.

So in a couple of weeks time I’ll write up my experiences on that ride.  Last time I did in 2015 and it was great fun.

Until next time ride safe

Marv

Product Review: Bontrager Velocis and Bellweather Windstorm winter gloves

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Dear Rouleurs,

This time it’s a proper blog…Without breaking out into GOT-mode the Melbourne winter that has been coming for a while has arrived.  Whilst this makes ski-bunnies very happy, it’s the start 3 months of of cold, wet and generally crappy weather. My wife reckoned I was as cold as an ice block after last Tuesday’s ride, the wind chill factor the westerly or northerly is pretty significant this time of year.  Its particularly tough on the hands as my old gloves just weren’t warm enough.  So a few weeks ago I bought 2 new sets of long finger ‘winter’ style gloves from local bike shops in Port Melbourne.  They are:

BONTRAGER VELOCIS WINDSHELL GLOVE

Bontrager’s blurb describes these gloves as being lightweight, windproof and water-resistant.  The main material being something called “Profila Windshell fabric” which weirdly looks a lot like vinyl but is highly wind and water resistant.

Bontrager Velocis gloves, the silicon grip is clearly evident on the fingers and thumb.

Bontrager Velocis gloves, the silicon grip is clearly evident on the fingers and thumb.

The inner glove surfaces are fleece lined which does a great job of keeping your hands warm.  Whilst they are thick and will take time to wear in, they are not really padded except for the palm. The gloves cover the wrist and have velcro clasp and elastic banding to provide a snug fit.  The silicon grip is placed on the palm side of the thumb and first two fingers.  This seems to work. Overall they are very well made and after about 20 hours of use haven’t shown any signs of splitting at the seams.  Mind you at the $70-$80 price point you would be greatly annoyed if that occurred.  Bontrager does have a 30 day unconditional warranty, provided you’ve got the receipt.

The main issue I have with these gloves is the fit.  People in the US must have long thin hands.  A medium gave me a tight fit over the back of my hand and through the the palm, but came with ridiculously long fingers.  The small size wouldn’t even fit on my hand.  I’ve been trying to mould the medium size glove into the shape of hands ever since I bought them.  I think this will come with use over time. This is one of the reasons that I don’t buy gloves online.  You really have to  try them on.  I’m giving them 3 and 1/2 Marvs.

BELLWEATHER WINDSTORM  GLOVE

Bellwether’s blurb describes the Windstorm glove as a mid-weight, full finger cycling glove, offering protection from windchill.  They are also supposed to be breathable thus preventing overheating leading to sweaty hands.

Bellweather WindStorm gloves are soft and comfortable but are not water resistant. I think the distribution of silicon grip is a bit suspect as well.

Bellweather WindStorm gloves are soft and comfortable but are not water resistant. I think the distribution of silicon grip is a bit suspect as well.

The key feature being that the gloves are predominately composed of softshell neoprene.  The inner glove is fleece lined.  This is comfortable, very warm  and stretchy but offers minimal water resistance.  I’ve worn the gloves for about 2 weeks in cold, windy conditions and they have been very effective in reducing windchill.  The gloves are also cut with a high elastic wrist and have a velcro clasp to secure them.  The big plus in these gloves is that Bellweather seems to offer a greater range of sizing.  I found the size 8 to be a perfect fit.  They were also approximately $15 cheaper than the Bontrangers.  Overall, I would say they are well made.  None of the stitching has split and the material of glove has held up well.

They are very warm, but I’ve found that I’m getting very sweaty wrists.  So I think the breathability is also limited.  They have some reflective decals on the back of the wrist.  I’m starting to this material crack and lift on the fingers. I also found the positioning of the silicon grip on exclusively on the palm a bit surprising.  I’m not sure whether the gloves would become slippy on break levels in the rain.  They do not have any padding of any kind.  I’m giving them 4 Marvs.

So hopefully that’s useful information if you are considering purchasing gloves soon. Its only a couple of weeks until Le Tour.

Until next time, safe cycling

Marv

Ballarat Autumn Day Ride 2016

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Dear Rouleurs,

As regular (…but non-existent…sigh)  readers would have noticed, this year MMT has been doing charity event rides.  As a cyclist I guess you go through this evolution of riding by yourself or with your mates and commuting which means you tend to stick to well worn routes.  For me this consists of roads eastern bayside suburbs.  Doing 50-60 km charity events is an awesome way of breaking out of routine.

This brings me to my latest adventure, the Ballarat Autumn Day (BAD) ride.  As a first time entrant in the BAD, I was surprised to learn that this was the 27th edition of this organised ride.  Judging by the entrants I saw, most were fairly serious cyclists.  At some of the previous events there’s been a real mix of  casual, enthusiasts and athletes.  Compared to the Ballarat Classic that I did back in February, its pretty low key and operates with the support of the local Ballarat Bushwalking and Outdoor Club.

I elected to the 50 km version which on paper fairly easy, see pretty pictures below. There was supposed to be only one relatively easy climb on the way back into Ballarat.  Morning Tea Rest was supposed to be somewhere on the way back.

BAD 50 km ride course profile

BAD 50 km ride course profile

Let me say from the outset, this was really tough ride.  In the week leading up to ride I was nervously looking at the weather forecast thinking..’F#*K that looks bad’…pun intended.  Team MMT arrived in Ballarat on the Saturday afternoon before the ride and noticed that the wind was already quite strong.  Unfortunately the BOM’s predictions of thunder storms and high winds proved correct.  I was seriously considering pulling out.

BAD 2016 - 50 km Course.

BAD 2016 – 50 km Course.

Sunday morning, it was still very windy but at least the rain had stopped.  As I could see numerous cyclists making their way to the start line, I thought ‘What the hell!! How bad could it be?’.  Opps there’s that pun again.  The answer to that was actually it was pretty awful.  I tagged onto, what I thought at the time, was a moderately paced bunch, rolling along at about 23-25 km/h.  Most days, that’s in the ‘cruise’ zone for me.

What I hadn’t realised was how much I was being sheltered at the tail of the bunch.  As the ride turned into the country, the gently undulating course became exposed to very strong cross and head winds.  The hills took on a degree of difficulty that in no way was represented by their piddly gradient.  You can see this the gradient profile. By the 22 km mark, I was done.

I was dropped by the bunch on one of the steeper hills and left out in wind. In these conditions that was a really crappy place to be.  I pinched the photo below off the BAD Facebook page.  This was the bunch I wheelsucked before being dropped. If you look hard enough at the photo you can see the grimaces on the faces of the frontrunners.

MMT wheelsucking at the back of the bunch.

MMT wheelsucking at the back of the bunch.

Eventually I tagged onto another bunch but much to my chagrin, took a right when a left was intended.  This put me onto the 100 km course and up more hills.  At least I was side on to the wind. By 32 km I realised I had really stuffed up.  I found a course marshal who showed me were I was. I was almost 10 km off course. D’oh!!! This meant a course correction was needed (see pretty diagram below. I rode off the course and down the Sunraysia Highway. Fortunately I had the wind mostly behind me. Despite heavy showers I made reasonable time.

2016 BAD 60 km course as ridden by MMT.

2016 BAD 60 km course as ridden by MMT.

Closer to Ballarat I found another course marshall and evidently the broom wagon. Both were a bit surprised to learn of my detour. After completing a 28 km course correction, l finally roll across the start-finish line. All I can think is, that was much tougher than I thought would be. I call the other half of Team MMT this. She’s sitting in the warm reception room waiting for me. I check in and discover that I’m not the only who has had navigation problems. The wind has played havoc with the course markers.

Fortunately the race organisers have warm drinks and delicious fruit cake on. I need both. Team support has brought my wonderfully dry set of clothes. Soon I’m feeling warm and that sense of contentment you have when you’ve achieved something. Despite the inclement weather, I enjoyed the event and thought that it was well organised. I plan to the proper 50 km next year. Its a pity that this event isn’t more widely advertised in Melbourne, as it has quite lot to offer city cyclists seeking a break from car infested roads.

Until next time ride safe

Marv