Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Brett Whiteley view of Sydney (by bike)

This morning the rain had cancelled soccer, it hasn't stopped raining for weeks so the fields are soaked. I tried to persuade the girls to come riding with me instead but they had curled up with the dog in front of the heater and were rewatching Eurovision for the fifth time. It turned out to be a good decision on their part!

I headed into town singing Anti Crisis girl to myself. Not only is Svetlana Loboda "Viagra personified" as Julia Zemiro called her, not only does she do amazing gymnastics AND a drum solo, with leaping flames and Trojan warriors but it's a very catchy tune and it stayed with me for the rest of this long day. I was still humming it as I rode home!

Next time I go riding with Gilbert, remind me to check the Bikely route. For some reason I thought we were going for a little jaunt up to Brett Whiteley's old studio. I thought it seemed like a short ride from the meeting place at Central but that was fine with me. I'd have plenty of time to get back home and take the girls to IKEA afterwards.

If you take a look at this map you will see just how wrong I was. Gilbert had planned a 35km round trip taking in all the important landmarks in the life of Brett Whiteley. Not just any 35km either, the route also managed to include just about every steep climb in Sydney!

We met in the Square of the Americas. The statues there always seem to be getting up to some sort of mischief and today was no exception. One of them had got himself tangled up with a shopping trolley

and another was having a smoke!

Anyway we read Gilbert's literature and then headed off up the hill into Surry Hills.

The gallery was well worth visiting, my favourite thing was reading some of the sayings Brett had written on the wall. I couldn't take pictures inside so you will have to go and see it yourself, it's free!

After a while I went outside to wait for the others, I found this cute little fish in the back alley. There's a close up here. I don't know if it has a Brett Whiteley connection but he did use a lot of Asian influence in his work.

Then it was off again across town to catch the ferry down at Darling Harbour. There was a short delay in Martin Place because a big demonstration was going past.

Here we are on the ferry trying to name all the islands. I'm not sure why Gilbert is giving Tim that funny look, maybe this was when Tim asked, "is that Balmain?" while pointing at the North side of the harbour. Gilbert's probably thinking "I better not let this guy get lost..."

We got off at a wharf named Huntley's Point, sadly the Turkish Baths are no longer there.

Then we rode up lots of hills and over bridges and into the wet and muddy Bush!

Minerva has never been in the bush before, she thought the air smelt a bit funny.

This is Gilbert explaining how to remove the leeches.

We struggled up out of the bush and did some running repairs. Then it was off to the childhood home of the Artist. Apparently he was the terror of the neighbourhood with his calipers and his shock of bright red hair.

Tim was amazed to see the actual house Brett Whiteley grew up in. Paul wanted to know if Brett was Tibetan. It was pretty mountainous terrain.

We always seemed to be climbing steeply or rocketing down the other side. I was a bit concerned about Minerva's brakes with her wheels all covered in mud but she lived up to her cross check heritage and kept me safe. Her chain was starting to get pretty slack though. Have to go and get that tightened tomorrow. One woman did take a nasty spill but she did a beautifully executed judo roll and jumped straight back on undaunted.

Somewhere in Lane Cove Gilbert led us back into the bush and down into a creek, it was time for a bit of caving! At least we could get out of the rain for a while.

The tunnel was quite long and dark, long and dark enough for Minerva to switch her lights on. It took us under the road into another valley where we bush bashed our way back up onto the streets again. Soon we were climbing again, arriving eventually at Wollstonecraft train station. At this point about half of the riders suddenly remembered urgent appointments they had in the city that afternoon and disappeared into the station. Did I mention it was raining?

So then we were five. More climbing ensued, I was having a good time but I think Minerva was getting a bit tired.

Our next stop was Wendy's secret garden down in Lavender Bay. It was really beautiful, I can't wait to take the girls there for a picnic one day. Wendy made the garden on a bit of neglected State Rail land when she was dealing with a lot of grief. She had lost both Brett and her daughter.

The garden was full of interesting little bits and pieces.

After a bit of a wander in the garden we carried our bikes down to the board walk and rode along past Luna Park and then up the hill to the Harbour Bridge. Kerry and Michael were heading North so we said goodbye and then we were three.

On the other side we farewelled our last companion and then Gilbert took me to see the final stop in the tour Black Totem II down at Miller's Point.

Gilbert was all set to ride back to Marrickville but I decided I'd best get the train, after all the girls were waiting for me, it wasn't that I was tired or anything... I should have just kept riding. Why is it that every time I try to take my bike on State Rail they are doing bloody track work? Unbelievable! Anyway I made it home in the end, the girls were busy assembling things they'd bought at IKEA and there were Swedish Kotbullar for dinner! And beer! Yum.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A very wet Mass

I missed mass again this month, I'd promised to cook dinner and do some editing with my friend Merryn. Luckily Cazzbo went along to be our reporter on the spot.

Letter from Anguilla

Jake, last month I sent you a picture from New York of a bicycle covered in snow, well this month I have moved slightly south to the island of Anguilla after 7weeks back in Oz.

Anguilla is a small island 25km long. part of the Leeward group of islands in the Northern Caribbean and about 240km east of Puerto Rico. I had no idea what to expect except that the place we were staying was "quite nice". In fact so nice the owners even managed to get Google only to photograph the place when it was covered in cloud. I think that was a joke, but really not to sure.

Before going to the Island I tracked down and managed to get in touch with a local bike rider, Ronnie Bryan. Ronnie represented the Island in the Melbourne Commonwealth games. He hired us a couple of nice road bikes and even delivered the said beasts to our accommodation which believe me was no mean feat. Even the goats have trouble getting in!

Now to the main point of this email which is to let you and your faithful readers know that our cycling experiences on that tiny island were so extraordinary they have to be spread over a wider audience.

The roads were some of the best I have ever ridden on with only occasional small pot holes here and there but nothing that would spoil a ride on our thin wheels. But I have never ever come across so many motorists who not only gave cyclists a huge passing space, a friendly "toot" on the horn when approaching, waited until the road was clear to pass but also would stop on a green light to allow the cyclist to turn right even if it meant they missed their go.

Totally amazing.

I spent my time riding with a Fire Captain from the Beverly Hills Fire Department, who I must say was very fit and put me and my ever increasing girth to shame. The former was my fault for not getting out as much as I should have before going, the later was totally due to our chef.

We managed to get a few pictures of us with the bikes to record our experience, but there is a limitation to how many you can take using your own private helipad and the Caribbean Sea as a back drop.

Dennis and Peter
On our final ride the "idea" sprang into my head that we should get a picture of us at the airport with the "Welcome to Anguilla" sign in the background.

I hadnt really thought it out too well when we dropped by the airport to grab the shot. The main problem was that the sign we wanted to use was on the runway side of the airport buildings. This meant getting permission to take ourselves with bikes, without passports, money or any of the usual things though security, immigration (twice) and customs. Such was the wonderful attitude of the people at the airport that this took less than 15mins to organize.

I think that they were so amazed that anyone would firstly want to to it and secondly have the nerve to ask. To me and my fire buddy it just sealed what we had come to think about the people on this wonderful little island. If attitude to cyclists can be used as an indicator as to the personality of a country and its people then this island scored 10/10.

Please find attached the pictures of me and my cycling mate Dennis.

Special thanks to Ronnie, the guys at the airport, the airport worker who took the picture for us, Remi who donated the weeks holiday as an auction item to the Beverly Hills Fire Department last year and our American friends who agreed to put up with us for a week

All the best.


aka Capt Black Prince of Darkness.

Remember "Police stops bicyclist???"- here's a new version from CCC

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Georgie's new bike

Well we finally got around to handing over the prize for this year's highest fundraiser. Georgi has been out of town for months so today was the first opportunity for her to head over to Cheeky Transport in Newtown and pick up her prize. She won a beautiful fully equipped Gofa City Bike. It even comes with disco lights and a basket!

Captain Georgi was very happy when she saw what a classy new bike she had. The prize was generously donated to SBAR by Adam who runs the truly excellent Cheeky Transport Cycling Emporium in Georgina St Newtown. If you'd like a cool Gofa city bike like Georgi's you should head down there and see him.

Georgi was Captain of the Pink Team this year. She really went all out with her fund raising even organising a Pink Team trivia night to raise extra money from her friends and family. In the end Georgi managed to raise well over $2,000 for the Children's Cancer Institute. Georgi said she'll be doing it all again next year so I guess she has really thrown down the gauntlet for the other Captains to come up with their own ideas for raising extra funds!

Adam even gave Georgi a classy black helmet to keep her head safe out there on the road.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google Trikes

Google builds Street View trikes to map UK footpaths

To advance its Street View service this summer, Google is poised to unleash the unstoppable power of human legs.

Traditionally, the average motor car finds it problematic to traverse the terrain of the British footpath. But bicycles do not. So this summer, Google will deploy bikes mounted with its 360 degree Street View cameras to map areas of Britain inaccessible by its fleet of Street View cars.

The so-called Google Trike, which the company describes "a mechanical masterpiece comprising 3 bicycle wheels, a mounted Street View camera and a very athletic cyclist in customised Google apparel," will arrive in the UK to make some "special image collections".

It comes as little surprise that Google is turning to pedal power to advance its controversial mapping agenda. History has shown that the human leg is an often untapped behemoth of energy, having in the past powered generators, submarines and, of course, deep space hair dryers aboard Red Dwarf. The Gtrike will hit Italy's inaccessible areas first, before hitting UK footpaths later this summer.

Via Cazzbo

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Brett Whitely - Alchemy by Bike

Gilbert Grace is planning another one of his fabulous Art by Bike tours. I'd urge you not to miss it. Gilbert is a great ride leader who keeps everyone feeling safe and relaxed. He also knows lots of stuff about Art!

This time we are going to visit the studio of one of Australia's most famous Artists Brett Whitely
Comic places to lock up your bike #73
This is not Brett, this is the statue to meet us near.

Meet us at the Square of the Americas, (adjacent to the Devonshire St tunnel) on Chalmers St at Central Station. We meet at 10.15am on Sunday the 31st of May. You can register on Facebook.
Gilbert likes to know how many people are coming.

Art loving Velovixen.


No, they’re not aliens on wheels, but the latest in bicycle storage.

The timing couldn’t be better for Australia, with issues such as petrol costs, sustainability and fitness fuelling a huge growth in cyclist numbers. But this cyclist explosion has not been matched by a growth in the availability of convenient, secure – and good-looking – bicycle storage. So three cheers for the Cyclepod, which has the answer not only for cyclists, but for councils, schools, corporations and architects who don’t want their fine buildings and vistas spoiled by tacky bike racks (or are short on space).

The Cyclepod’s award-winning list of credentials includes:
• stylish – its funky look suggests a happy marriage between an octopus and an aerospace engineer (with the bonus of multiple colour options)
• space-saving – eight bikes can be secured in an area two metres in diameter, which is around 40 per cent less than required by conventional bike racks
• flexible – besides the original Cyclepods, Steward has already come up with three variations to suit different spaces and users
• sustainable – the entire Cyclepods range is made of recycled and/or recyclable materials and can be lit by solar-powered security lights
• secure (less sexy, but critical) – the Cyclepod was described as “an exemplary method of storing bikes securely and efficiently” by London’s Design Against Crime Research Centre.

So far the Cyclepod can only be seen in Brisbane but hopefully Sydney will buy some soon!

Monday, May 04, 2009