Tag Archives: Tour Down Under

cycling success but fashion disaster!

Looking deservedly pleased with themselves at the end of a long ride. And wearing the same jersey as most of the 6000 or so others!

Looking deservedly pleased with themselves at the end of a long ride. And wearing the same jersey as most of the 6000 or so others!

They all turned up early but, in what could only be considered a major fashion blunder, they were wearing the same thing, most of the 6,000 and whatever of them! Yep, I’m talking about the Bupa Community Challenge that took place over the Stage 4 of the TDU on Friday. Dr B and Youngest Uncle, the latter riding his maiden TDU Community Challenge, set out from the start at Unley to do the whole distance of 148.5 Km. I was to meet them at Victor Harbor at the end. YoungB had hoped to ride, too, but state crew training for rowing and his uni summer course made that impossible.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, with my two out of my hair early in the morning – YoungB left at about 5.00, Dr B at about 5.30 – I’d have been out of the door and on my own way fairly smartly, too. By the time I’d cleared the kitchen and washed dishes and cleaned the car windscreen and done a rubbish round and checked everything off my “please remember to do and/or take” list – all those itsy, bitsy sorts of things – three hours had passed. I’d anticipated being long gone before YoungB was home from training. Yeah, well, plans are wonderful things and it’s necessary to have them.

Dr B had gone to a lot of trouble setting up a route on our GPS navigator so that I could get to the finish line without fighting the cyclists (I’ve been there, done that in the past and it’s horrendous; so never again, thanks, no matter how many extra kilometres it takes). It worked remarkably well, taking me via back routes I’d never hitherto encountered but not entirely away from cyclists. Obviously, those several large groups didn’t get the memo about the TDU Community Challenge! On the whole, they weren’t that much of a problem: clearly practised and confident, not all over the road or doing silly things and even, in one case where I was quietly motoring along behind them, waving me forward when I couldn’t see whether it was safe to overtake.

I reached the freeway without incident. You enter a freeway doing a good sort of speed, so there’s no room for changing your mind. I exited it almost immediately because the GPS said so! (No, I knew perfectly well it was the wrong exit but it had done a fabulous job up to that point and, like I say, you can’t be changing your mind and making wild manoeuvres on a freeway.) Yeah, right. I lost close to an hour just faffing about trying to get back on track! Eventually I did, but you know all those kilojoules the boys were burning out there on their pushbikes? I reckon I burnt at least twice that many just stressing about how late I was going to be. As if. Even with that lost hour, which meant that a trip that usually takes two hours and had this time been going to take two and a half took three and a half, I still had stacks of time in hand to drive around looking for a park at the Victor Harbor end.

Victor Harbor is a lovely spot but parking there is not particularly good and easy at the best of times. That has ever been the case and although there’s been some improvement in recent years, you don’t want to put money on being able to park anywhere near where you think you might. And quite clearly, a day when the town was about to be overrun by thousands of cyclists was never going to be the best of times and the inadequate parking meant long, long walks for folks like me. That’s okay. I truly don’t mind walking, so once I snagged a park within a reasonable radius of the finish line (the GPS put it at about 2 Km), off I went quite happily to stand about and await the boys.

Youngest Uncle had told me he’d be wearing yellow knicks, so I’d been looking out for such a thing. Sometimes, a little bit of easy identification makes the rest fall into place. I saw no yellow knicks on anybody who looked remotely like him. It turned out that he’d changed his mind and was wearing red-and-black knicks. Okay. That was always going to mean I wouldn’t pick him out of the bunch! We did meet up, though, and then we waited for Dr B. He’d had a fair ride but slower than he’d have liked it to have been, having encountered a few problems with cramp on the way. Still, he made it and, as ever, looked in remarkably good shape at the end. (To this day, I marvel at how lucid and upright he was at the end of PBP!)

The celery? Yeah, in among the package of goodies given to the riders was a pack of pasta and a stick of celery: obviously intended for use in a fortifying meal at the end of a long, hard day. And, you know, if lots of celery was good enough for Oppy, why would anybody argue its inclusion in a cyclist’s feedbag?

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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Cycling, Rowing


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when a musette isn’t a squeezebox

Before Dr B did the Paris-Brest-Paris Audax ride in 2011, I made a musette for him. It was quite a tidy piece of work, though I managed to twist the strap (he said it didn’t bother him, so we left it that way). I was reminded of it yesterday when he brought home a freebie from the Tour Down Under village. I pointed out that it wasn’t in the same league as the one I made. He agreed and said that having that made-by-me musette around his neck gave him great comfort on some of the longer, lonelier stretches when he wondered what the f*^# he was doing there. Aww. Ain’t it nice to be appreciated?

Bottom right corners aligned, which illustrates that the spotty one is slightly deeper than the one I made

Bottom right corners aligned, which illustrates that the spotty one is slightly deeper than the one I made though the width is about the same. You’ll note that our metal snap fastener is about the same size as the white plastic one on the freebie.

The one I made is a linen/cotton furnishing fabric, slightly less deep though the same width, is french seamed, has a metal snap fastener and the straps are sturdy cotton. The freebie is lightweight and there’s not a french seam in sight. I was interested to see that the TDU musette, which I’m sure we’ll be spotting everywhere for a while, also has a snap fastener, albeit plastic. We have another (a 2012 Tour de France freebie from a friend) with a velcro fastening and I remember being surprised by that. Dr B and I had had lengthy discussions about why velcro might not be such a good idea in the dark when you’re fumbling about trying to get food out of a bag. YoungB concurred. We reckoned it would stick to everything you didn’t want it to, probably mostly to your cycling gloves! I do understand that perhaps a snap fastener might not always be the best, either, but on balance we thought it preferable to the velcro. It seems that whoever designed this TDU musette was of the same mind.

Nice sturdy straps on mine, coming out of the top of the musette. The freebie has the straps coming out of the side seam. Mine are definitely anchored more securely.

Nice sturdy straps on mine, coming out of the top of the musette. The freebie has the straps coming out of the side seam. Mine are definitely anchored more securely.

The TDF one, however, had straps applied in the same way as mine – I don’t claim it was deliberate on my part; I couldn’t possibly have sewn through the french seam AND the cotton tape, so it was a matter of near enough having to be good enough and because the musette is worn crosswise, the offset straps were perfectly all right – but the TDU one has them coming out of the sides at a right angle. Hmm. All food for thought while carrying food for riders.

French seams and sturdy anchoring of straps. That musette wasn't about to come apart, no matter what Dr B put in it. The green one, I suspect, might not be of the same calibre but it's green and cheerful.

French seams and sturdy anchoring of straps. That musette wasn’t about to come apart, no matter what Dr B put in it. The green one, I suspect, might not be of the same calibre but it’s green and cheerful.

Tomorrow, when the Bupa Community Challenge  takes place, I dare say there’ll be heaps of those spotty musettes about the place. I don’t imagine Dr B will use a musette at all, but if he did use his own, would you reckon I’d be quite safe in saying he’d be the only rider with one like that!?


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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Cycling, Sewing


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sewing velcro

Does anyone have any good tips for machine-sewing velcro? I was faced with having to do so for a mercy mission I was undertaking for Dr B’s RST motorcycling jeans (re-creating a pocket for holding the hip armour; somehow, Dr B had lost one and I didn’t want to unpick the remaining one to nut out the order of construction) and, OMG, the unladylike language issuing forth from my sewing room. I’ve sewn velcro in the past, I know I have. But, on reflection, it’s always been stick-on stuff that I’ve then secured by judicious handsewing. I did everything I could think of: changed my presser foot and the needle; used different thread; swapped the “new” bobbin for one I knew to be an original, just in case the newer bobbin was somehow not quite right; and tinkered with tension and stitch length, all to no avail. What a mess.

Everything about this is bad, but it will do the job and I think that's probably enough!

Everything about this is bad, but it will do the job and I think that’s probably enough!

I finally called it quits because I could see there’d be no improving the situation (and because, despite my care, I’d somehow managed to sew the left “pocket” so that it was the same as the right one; there’s meant to be a slight difference). I’d also sewn on the wrong side of velcro to start with – you know, attached a smooth bit when I needed a hooky bit – and that was problematic, but I’d done it. Then I had to unpick it, which I did, muttering greatly all the while. But trying to do the velcro the second time around – yep, I did use the hooky side, so that was right at least! – finally did me in.

I’m sure there are plenty of good tips online but, well, my computer is down one end of the house and my sewing machine down the other, so, you know, I was sewing. Now I’m not! So DOES anyone have any foolproof tips? Thanks in advance from one very exasperated sewist.

In other, utterly unrelated news, we went to our local park to watch the TDU Bupa Challenge riders head out, helped along by a brisk tailwind. Usually Dr B and YoungB would be riding in it, and probably a couple of other family members; but this year it was always going to be tricky (YoungB, for example, is coaching today in quite the other direction). Still, as the park is walking distance from where we live, it would have been a great opportunity missed had we not made the effort. We went back to watch the professionals a few hours later. By then the tailwind had disappeared and the sunshine warmed us up nicely. Aren’t we lucky to have such world-class events right at our doorstep?


Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Cycling, Motorcycling, Sewing


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choice of champions

Different champions part-way through an Audax ride

Sometimes on weekend mornings, we read at the breakfast table (you can throw your hands in the air if you have to but I promise you the world doesn’t even wobble on its axis). Often, Boy reads to us in Italian. We help him with the pronunciation and, where necessary, put our heads together to come up with the most appropriate translation (mine is often more general than Dr B’s, as it’s not my mother tongue, after all, but occasionally that’s beneficial because I will go for the wider meaning rather than the every-word translation). It’s usually fun and we have a good time while helping Boy with what definitely comes under the heading of homework.

This morning, Boy first picked a short story that was brimful of tenses and lengthy asides that we were all too tired to struggle with (too southern for Dr B, too foreign for me!). At our suggestion, he willingly picked another that turned out to be about a cyclist, Mario Soldati‘s Il Campione (The Champion). That was a good choice despite its tricky language: even if he wasn’t always able to work out the words, he could work out the sense of what was being said because, being a cyclist himself, he could visualise what was intended.

I, needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, continued to knit Boy’s beanie all the while.

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Posted by on June 10, 2012 in Cycling, Knitting


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