Life in a nutshell.

Technology, survival, history, happiness, depression, natureWestern society totally idolises an athletic body shape but resents the physical exertion required to attain it. We try to minimise human physical work by any means possible. As far as I’m concerned, every time you switch on any form of electrical equipment, you’re basically signing an invisible contract that reads:

“I accept that as a consequence of using this device, I risk becoming physically and/or mentally unhealthy”

We choose to avoid using our muscles at each and every oportunity and then suddenly wonder why we’re obese. We drive to work, drive home and then drive to the gymnasium (if at all). Most of us have even become too lazy to cook or make anything for ourselves – we invent power tools & kitchen utensils to do it all for us. Take this scenario for instance:

Rather than whip a cake using a wooden spoon the old-fashioned way, we’d now sooner collectively sit in front of a computers all day long, earn enough money for a mechanical cake mixer which can do it for us (basically employing a whole host of product design engineers, entrepreneurs, the sales & marketing department, and everyone else who works in the wholesale and retail chain). [Read more →]

World’s most expensive set of coathangers!

Zipp 100% recycled carbon fibre coathangar. Composite coat-hanger.This set of 8 coat hangers is 100% recycled from a high-end set of road racing wheels (the wheelset itself retailed for about a thousand dollars almost ten years ago; the price has since doubled). The rims are 100% carbon fibre contruction and were at the time one of the lightest wheels available (only 1059 grams for the pair of wheels!).

Recycled carbon fibre composite clothes hangersI spent the better part of this evening making these by hand after taking the first half of the morning to decide whether to do it or not. All the sharp edges have been sanded down so there is no risk of carbon fibre splinters. I believe the spokes are the original stainless steel Sapim CX Rays & the aluminium nipples also came with the zipp wheels. The two carbon rims were still structurally intact when I attacked them both with the hacksaw… so why did I butcher these instead of selling them as a built up & complete racing wheelset?

Well, primarily because the carbon brake tracks were damaged after a brief 20% descent here in Tenerife. I could have re-drilled the rims and used them for “disc brakes only” but this would require two new hubs, new spokes, a new rebuild, a suitable frame and fork and I didn’t think there would be much demand for a tubular disc-only rim.

25% of the final sale price will support World Wildlife Fund for Nature.You can buy them through ebay here. 25% of the final sale price will support World Wildlife Fund for Nature. [Read more →]

Cycling in your thirties; gaining motivation & losing weight.

You know the feeling when the road in front of you starts to ramp up, and you jump off the saddle and dance on those pedals a bit like Marco Pantani climbing in the French Alps? Well that feeling had completely vanished. Hell, even my own sweat reaked of somebody else. Realising this only made me more determined - I wasn’t going to permit myself turn into yet another fat bastard quite so easily!I admit that only a few months ago I did not have the physical energy required for cycling long distances. Just getting out on my bike required a huge mental effort. Every time I went out and came back, I never seemed to improve and there were very few rewards. Normally, after a little break of a few months, it’d take me three, four or at most five rides before my fitness level returned to ‘normal’. That was when I was in my twenties. But last summer I turned 31. I’d gone out regularly more than a dozen times and I was still finding it rather difficult. I guess that’s what it means to be in your thirties!

I no longer had that lively spring in my pedalling stroke. You know the feeling when the road in front of you starts to ramp up, and you jump off the saddle and dance on those pedals a bit like Marco Pantani climbing in the French Alps? Well that feeling had completely vanished. Hell, even my own sweat reaked of somebody else. Realising this only made me more determined – I wasn’t going to permit myself turn into yet another fat bastard quite so easily! [Read more →]

Got a question about materials used in bikes?

materials, bikes, bicycles, science, frame, steel, aluminium, aluminum, carbon, boron, fibre, fiber, magnesium, titanium, beryllium, questions, manufacturing, components, ask, answerHello fellow cyclists,

For a long time I’ve been meaning to start my own column dedicated to answering questions about the multitude of materials used in bicycle frame and components. I’ve decided to write this article after reading several questions directly related to materials posted on online bike forums.

Materials and bikes go hand in hand so it’s great to see many riders already have a basic understanding of the general properties of materials. The thing is, most people are simply not qualified to answer detailed questions about the nature of materials. And it seems that some people would rather promptly give an answer -any answer- sooner than get the real facts. They give the wrong information. Mis-information.

You see the same old stuff which has been regurgitated by bicycle magazines and cyclists for the last decade. Eventually the bicycle industry catches onto something new and a buzz word is formed. There are equally as many myths floating about. I suspect that the majority of bicycle companies and component manufacturers only talk about materials to increase their sales. Yes I believe a lot of it is marketing hype. Some of it is not. I’m here to introduce you to some important but little-known concepts about Materials.

What so great about Materials Science?
It’s basically study of the physical & mechanical properties of all Materials including metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, semiconductors and superconductors. We research and test materials’ strength, stiffness, density, corrosion and a whole host of other important properties. More than any other field, Materials Science tries to seek out what is actually happening at the atomic, molecular and microstructural level.

Chemists tend to stick to atoms and molecules. Physicists tend to look more at the subatomic. Engineers lean towards the macroscopic. This leaves Materials Science to fill a truly gaping void. It is an underappreciated scale – one which you can’t see but gives rise to almost all physical properties of materials. [Read more →]

The politically correct assassin.

personal rights, political correctness, free country, civil liberty, personal freedom, politically correct, civil liberties, public liabilityThe worlds’ gone stark-raving mad. You hear responses like this to absurd news stories spoken every single day. What exactly am I referring to? I’m referring to insane cases of “personal rights, freedoms and civil liberties” in the simultaneous “age of political correctness”. These two forces do not belong in the same time zone and space. It’s like matter and anti-matter, except that as soon as they come into contact, good old common sense implodes along with them.

Young people these days that claim they have the right to steal, vandalise, assault, rape, abuse, and generally do whatever the bloody hell they feel like. Okay, but then to compensate for their illegal behaviour you expect some sort of justice. You expect that when they get caught, they’ll be reprimanded by the full extent of the law. Not so. Instead, they go and slip on some marbles while robbing the plasma telly inside an innocent person’s home and sue the owner for negligence. [Read more →]

Saying no to electronic bikes! Cycling without an odometer…

“It gives readouts for speed, maximum speed, time, distance, cadence and number of dog turds you’ve run over.”About 5 years ago I used to train with a campagnolo ergobrain cycling computer as well as a S-710 polar HRM (with the additional power unit). That gave me every imaginable readout including: speed, distance, heart rate, estimated calories burned, power output, cadence (pedalling rate), pedalling index (or efficiency), digital gear indicator, current temperature & altitude …

This setup was great for long and boring rides but before long, I found myself looking at both LCD displays more and more and more. Eventually I felt that it was just information overload. I constantly aimed to beat my own times, lower my resting heart rate and burn the most calories possible. While I thought of this as part of training, I had unknowingly become a slave to the bicycle computer (or in this case computers).

After a while, I met a guy in the South of Sydney (Como bridge to be exact) who caught up to me from behind. He was obviously significantly faster than I was. I was suprised to see that there were no electronics at all on his bike at all. When I asked the inevitable “why” question, he said to me that he’d just be worrying about the readouts too much and not concentrating on riding the actual bike. Now being a techno-geek back then, I just couldn’t understand that mentality at the time. I used to think like this: “if a new technology is available, you have to have it”. Plain and simple. He didn’t change me on the spot, but his philosophy nevertheless made me think twice about what I was doing. Was I nothing more than a consumer victim? He certainly opened my mind to the idea of cycling without any electronics equipment. [Read more →]