Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm On A Boat...cycle!

I've noticed distinct patterns emerging in my wardrobe since I returned to bicycles. The most obvious being a sharp decrease in non stretch pants and corresponding increase in dresses for the freedom of movement they provide. (I said as much in my little bit of The Girls' Bicycle Handbook.) But another, quite literal pattern has been woven through this shift: A complete mania for stripes. Partly it's due to a proliferation of stripes in the shops but my stripes love has been building for some time, the increased availability has merely allowed me to target my obsession almost exclusively on navy blue and white horizontal, as though I were permanently about to board a yacht. Blame suddenly living by the sea, blame the fact my 'best for summer biking' dress back in Perth was navy blue and white stretch cotton, blame my willing adherence to fashion. Blame what ever you like but something about stripes on a bike (Or on foot) makes me happy to be alive.

Bike Stripes Genesis in Perth.
Stretch 'T-Shirt' material dress from Target, perfect for sweaty, West Australian summers.

I'm not a summertime fan but there's something of an endless summer feeling in navy stripes that I can still appreciate. Less of the sweat, swimsuits and sunburn, more of the blessed hour when the Perth sun finally relented and you could collapse into an outdoor chair with an iced drink, sea breeze and good friends around you. Plus it just makes me feel jaunty.

Bike Stripes in Tasmania.
Heavier cotton because sweat doesn't really happen in the summer here.

Unwilling to let go of the feeling, I've now collected enough navy and white stripes to undertake one of those Capsule Wardrobe Projects and seasonally whittle my attire down to a core of striped items and things that go with stripes. Of course the majority of outfits have to be suitably 'bikeable'. The great thing about Autumn/Winter in Tasmania is that all I really have to do is add tights and some outerwear to all my Spring/Summer outfits.

Not that this fact prevented me from buying a third navy and white striped dress.

When I combine stripes with the polka-dotted Nutcase helmet, I feel like I'm radiating happiness everywhere I ride. I also feel a lot more visible in all weathers. I'll be quite sad when stripes disappear from the fashion landscape.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Winter Is Coming. Obviously.

Game of Thrones bandwagon title!

After two years in Tasmania, I've decided I enjoy all the seasons pretty equally. Especially as we actually have four so you never have time to get tired of any particular weather. Distinct changes in season remain a novelty when you're from Perth. But if I had to pick a favourite, I'd pick Autumn because the turning leaves, cool gusts and soft light combine to soothe my Celtic DNA. I love to push my face into the crisp evening air and inhale the promise of winter deep into my lungs. I love to arrive at my destination with pink cheeks and wind-curled hair. And I love to cycle in Autumn! The Turners Beach to Ulverstone Path seems to be at its prettiest during this time so Ginger and I were on it the second things tipped over into 'tights weather'. For me, not him. Although, no judgement if he ever wants to wear tights. Different strokes, etc.

I tried to take pictures in transit, with a lot less success than other bicycle bloggers. My rolling selfie game is weak. Also the front facing camera on my phone is not nearly as nice as the rear. (Insert bum joke here.)

Ginger over my shoulder.
I taught myself to arm knit off the YouTubes and
made this snood/Infinity Scarf.
Autumn colours and an excuse for scarf wearing.
What more could I want?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

At The Hipster Corral.

The sad thing about North West Tasmanian bicycle infrastructure is we have yet to link up the excellent but currently town specific shared paths. The happy thing about North West Tasmanian bicycle infrastructure is that this results in cyclist clusters at either end of each path, providing me with bicycle spotting opportunities. Especially in the case of the Wynyard path which ends (or begins, depending upon your point of view) at Bruce's*, the beachside café with bike racks and a heap of community spirit. This community spirit compelled them to have an end of summer garage sale, at which Ginger and I bought a rotary phone (Peak Hipster) and mingled our two-wheels with the sunscreened masses.

White Mixte, Red Cruiser.
The bike racks were surrounded by second hand goods.

The cruiser & us. The cruiser is apparently a Fluid brand bicycle - which, ew.
A little bit. Right?
But here is where Australians can buy them.

The red Fluid (Again, ew. Yet I've no problem with the word moist. Go figure.) was certainly eye-catching, especially with more inbuilt carrying features than your average cruiser. Just look at Ginger's blue Schwinn next-door for comparison. Not even a back rack let alone front carrying. The front basket was added by the owner but fit so perfectly I had no idea until I Googled the bicycle brand. The rear rack has no 'rat trap' but as you can see in the first picture there's a gap for attaching straps or tying something on semipermanently. A pretty perfect bike for Wynyard which is flat, has some interesting shops, a boardwalk section of shared path and plenty of beach to pose your cruiser next to.

Or which ever kind of bicycle you own.

*Since I first mentioned Bruce's last year, I have befriended the proprietors. Another wonderful thing about life in Tasmania. I still pay for cake and tea like everybody else and they have no idea I am blogging about their café.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Burnie Bicycle Picnic - Summer Edition.

What better excuse for a summer bicycle picnic than owning a picnic basket and a bicycle? How about perfect Saturday weather and a new floral dress? Honestly, any reason for me to eat egg sandwiches. Yes, I was THAT kid who always ordered smelly egg sandwiches on canteen day. Fortunately it didn't result in ostracism, it just meant nobody ever wanted to share my lunch. (Good! My lunch is mine! Back off!) But my love for egg sandwiches is so bordering on the unholy that I probably would have defiantly borne any loneliness regardless. Anything for that sweet, sweet, mashed up egg and mayonnaise. EGG SANDWICHES 4LYF. What was I saying? Oh yes, new dress:

And perfect summer weather. Burnie shared path is short but smooth.

It was a warm, direct sun sort of day so Ginger and I sunscreened up and made the brief trip to Burnie Park for frittata, the blessed egg sandwiches and little cakes from the Farmers Market. Burnie Park is surprisingly interesting for its diminutive size. It has a pleasant display of roses, war memorial, a tree trail, the original tavern building, plenty of playgrounds, some peacocks (sadly in an enclosure due to the highway being right next to the park), ducks on the loose, a lake and a hidden waterfall best viewed on foot, only a hundred metres or so into a rainforest. The picnic area is actually the most boring part, being next to the car park. But the trees are large and shady, the grass is soft and you can see the ocean sparkling in the sunshine. Plus everything is great when there's egg sandwiches, RIGHT?

Very briefly considered designated picnic table.

Post picnic we managed to run into another West Australian transplant so we all adjourned to nearby Makers Workshop for coffee by the beach. It's very easy to segue into these kinds of lazy afternoons in North West Tasmania. Just another reason why summer here is superior, egg sandwiches or no.

Admiring my new yellow straps outside Makers Workshop.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Girls' Bicycle Handbook.

An exciting package appeared in my letterbox this week. Actually, two exciting packages appeared and they were all BOOKS.
"But this blog is not about books! It's about bicycles and fat bottoms of the unappealing, Mom-jeans kind," you interject. Because you like to cut me deep.

But! (Butt?) One book was about both Bicycles and tangentially, Fat Bottoms. I received a copy because my Fat Bottom is IN IT and 'IT' is a lovely slice of publishing entitled The Girls' Bicycle Handbook by Caz Nicklin of London Cycle Chic.

Here it is nestled in some ivy because lord knows we can't look
at anything now unless it's Instagrammed within an inch of reality.

It's subtitled Everything You Need To Know About Life On Two Wheels because it contains exactly that if you are a girl person who rides a bike or would like to get back on her bike without lycra or racing anybody to work. (Although there's a section about that if you want to!)

The Handbook blends bicycles, history, fashion, advice, and stories into a healthful smoothie of informative reading and pleasant pictures. It's like your favourite bicycle blogs in physical format, quite literally as many Lady Bicycle Bloggers of all stripes are to be found within. The virtual, pink-spoked circle has crossed over. But the bulk of the book is a 'How To' garnered from Caz's experience as an everyday cyclist and purveyor of bicycle chic. The focus is firmly on cycling for transportation and incorporating your bicycle into your life without drastically changing your style or identity. I was very pleased to see the section on maintenance as this is something I've wanted to learn more of ever since I became reacquainted with bicycles. It begins with the most basic procedures like how to pump up your tyres and ends with things you can do to spend less time and money at the LBS so even if you know NOTHING, you can start here.

Common Noises and What They Mean is a very useful subsection of this.

The guide is comprehensive enough that if you are yet to acquire the two wheels of the subtitle, there's advice on finding the right bike. If like myself you are already 'rollin' and subsequently doused in a tide of 'hatin', there is still plenty to enjoy with tales from women around the world, women biking with families, women who have gone to the next level for fitness or even… Yes. Here be the rarest of Roadies - The Lady Lycra. Softly calling from the pink-washed finish line, "One of us. One of us!"

The Girls' Bicycle Handbook officially launches on April 3rd, 2014 and is currently available for pre-order here at London Cycle Chic. (Fat Bottom not required.)

More ivy and the other books that arrived this week.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nutcases and Australians Go Out in the Midday Sun.

Several heatwaves have swept Australia since Christmas so I thought it might be optimum time to test out the comfort of my new helmet. One of the reasons I'd been a bit reluctant to buy a 'full' style helmet was because Ginger had his stormtrooper version and had proclaimed it to be both heavy and HOT.

"Ve have vays oft making you bicycle!"

When the Nutcase Simi Mini Dots arrived I was pleased with its lightness but had no idea how it would feel in summer. I had resolved to find out ASAP but ended up only doing a short journey the first hot day. I waited a bit for a proper trial through the sun scorched paddocks between Ulverstone and Turners Beach.

First trip, The Nutcase. And her new helmet.
Just a short trip, coffee and picking up some shopping.

Despite the sea breeze the route is one of direct sun with little to no overhead trees and many wind breaks so it was a good sample of sweaty bike conditions in the very high 20s (Celsius. About 82 Farenheit). Also I am bad at forgetting to go slow once the joy of being on a bicycle hits me. It was fairly spectacular weather and we set off around midday, passing many happy Tasmanians leaping into the sparkling Leven river, enjoying the Ulverstone water-slide or frolicking on the beaches. I was more than a little sorry I had not brought my bathers.

Bathers regret at Ulverstone Surf Club.

Ulverstone Surf Club renovation has been completed and now offers a bank of unisex toilets as well as… A BIKE RACK! Wonders will never cease. Now it just needs a drink fountain and it will be the perfect pit-stop for everybody.

Ginger's Trek pretending to lock-up.

We cycled out to Le Mar café, enjoyed an icy drink in their alfresco area and zipped back. At no point did I think to myself, 'This helmet is too heavy/hot!'. It seemed to provide just as much ventilation as my other helmet, ie 'an okay amount when you factor in lots of dark hair attracting heat to your head'. The padded chin strap felt a lot more comfortable than my other helmet, not at all sweaty and the visor seemed to cut more sun. As always in an Australian summer, the best air-conditioning is constant movement paired with the occasional sea breeze. And of course I felt jaunty in my polka dots as well as more visible. I'm officially satisfied with my Nutcase purchase and would do so again.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Green Mile. (How do you get there?)

When there's nowhere official to park your bicycle, what to do? Lock up to any old thing outside? Or take it right into work and safely behind bars? That was the convenient solution for the owner of this (probably 1980s) Repco, sealed within an entry to Albert Hall in Launceston last spring.

Subsequently I couldn't get any closer to the cheerful vintage number, underlining its very effective security. Of course it's only my conjecture the rider was on business but regardless, if you had reason to lock-lessly leave your bicycle on the doorstep here, you probably would too:

Albert Hall - Launceston, Tasmania.
Photo from Wikipedia.
It rather makes the humble Repco feel regal, don't you think? It certainly makes you inclined to forgive the absence of an official bike rack.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Duck and Cover! (It's a post about Helmets.)

Just not about the politics of helmets because I'm provocative but I'm not entirely stupid. Bicycle helmets are compulsory in Australia. That is the beginning and end of relevant information regarding this post and I assign no judgement one way or the other. So with that in mind:

I finally got my hands on (and head under) a Nutcase Simi Mini Dots Helmet!

Another victory for truth in labelling.
And taking pictures in your pyjamas.
I've wanted a higher visibility helmet for use with the slightly too understated black Pashley for quite some time. I've also wanted to experience a less 'sporty' style helmet. (Unless you count looking like a deranged gymkhana escapee as sporty.) Not to mention the convenience of having a helmet with each bicycle now that they are stored in two separate locations. Then there's the most important variable: The fact that a red and white polkadot helmet is as cute as a mutant ladybug's behind! After focussing my consumer lust on this particular helmet I was pleased to discover Ruthy's Rides as an online Australian distributor of Nutcase. Then I was extra pleased to discover they were having a sale on the latest models. I dutifully measured my head and placed my order just before Christmas.

When it arrived I was amused to discover the cardboard fit instructions came '…with Punch-out Squirrel'. I popped and assembled and loled:

Well played, brand engineers.
The Nutcase also came with a green bracelet proclaiming 'I Love My Brain' and the usual foam inserts for custom fit, also screaming 'I LOVE MY BRAIN'. It was strange to me how much the packaging seemed intent on making me feel smug about my mostly utilitarian purchase until I remembered that it comes from a country where helmets are not compulsory.

I haven't had a chance to ride with it yet but superficially I'm pretty impressed with the quality of the Nutcase. It's very light, it will definitely make me more visible with colour and reflective elements, the magnetic buckle is a revelation worth the cost (No danger of pinching your neck!). Even the foam inserts seem more luxurious than the ones in my cheaper helmet. The visor easily clips on and off for the fickle amongst us and it also features the same back of the head 'turn to tighten' device as my other helmet (a boon for a fast, secure fit). I'll be interested to find out just how much hotter this style of helmet turns out to be, if at all. The large ventilation holes are numerous and the whole thing is surprisingly weightless but it's high summer here in Tasmania and the country-wide heatwave has even made it to our little island so it will soon have a trial by fire. This nutcase will report back on that Nutcase in due time.