today i:

Got up earlier than usual so as to begin preparing for my (fuckful) early teaching starts in a couple of weeks. Not too early (only 8.30), but I find it very difficult to change my sleeping pattern, and it’s a long road from 9.30am to 6.30am when you’re going at half hour intervals. I’m considering just moving all at once, but I don’t like the way I’m going to feel that one day of craptitude. I also find my body just ignores that sort of massive all-at-once change. I am a creature of habit. This will, of course, make late night DJing tricky. The early start is a Monday, with a day of lectures and tutes, then a day of tutes on Tuesdays. So Saturday late night DJing will be a bit of a pain. Last semester I found the traffic noise on our busy road very difficult to deal with and had to resort to ear plugs. I hope – and don’t think – that’ll happen again as I’ve adjusted to the noise.
Rode my bike to Petersham for lunch (why Petersham? Well, two words: Sweet Bellam the ‘cake boutique’). Had bunny and a nice broad bean salad at a Portugese joint. Watched a bunch of middle aged blokes from the train station eating whole chickens and chips. Then realised that they were actually only young men, just carrying the bodies of middle aged, beer-belly-wearing, overweight, unfit men. It was a bit scary. I’d seen the same lot having lunch there the day before. Bunny and salad was kind of a special meal for me (it was quite nice, actually, though I hurt my tooth on a bunny bone), but to eat chicken and chips every single day? I was just thankful they had to walk up the hill to the restaurant. Though they probably drove. I wanted to yell out “Don’t! Don’t eat that again! Have a salad! Have a sandwich!” but I figured it wasn’t such a good idea. I did plan on a cake, but decided to push on to my next destination first.
Printed out a road map from our place to Newtown. Petersham, I discovered yesterday, is only 10 minutes (if that) from our place. Which is such a tiny distance. On the map, that’s only about a third of the way to Newtown. But the main roads to Newtown are scary: narrow, busy, fast-moving traffic on a single lane, poorly surfaced road. All bad news for a baby bike rider like me. Then I noticed this:

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Street view showed me this:

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Which is pretty exciting. You can’t look at them using street view, but Sydney has a whole system of these sorts of alleys. They’re not cobble stones like Melbourne’s, though – they’re sealed. Now, alleys are notoriously dangerous ways of getting around by bike. Things come out of blind corners, cars drive down them at speed, weird blokes grab you off your bike (that’s my nightmare).
So I was kind of careful. But I chose to ride along this one anyway, all the way to Newtown. I’m really glad that I did. I saw lots and lots of good scrumping opportunities. Lemons, Grapes (ripe! accessible!), longans (you know I have no clue what to do with them), plums… all sorts of neat stuff. I also came across a few doozers and their mini digger. I couldn’t get past on-bike, so I had to carry my bike over the ripped up concrete, and then up and over the edge of the digger. The doozer bloke (young, mediterranean, well-trained) offered to carry my bike. I smiled and said “no thank you” and hefted it over. I’m glad I’m not one of those steel-is-real nuts. I’m also glad I didn’t bring a big bottle of water this time. But dang, I felt tough. It was all very interesting. And riding there from Petersham was ridiculously easy and quick.
Dropped in on a friend’s shop to say hi, then went up the road to the bike shop.
Bought stuff at the bike shop. I bought a new helmet (because mine was old and skanky and really kind of crapped up through mistreatment), new lights (because we’ve lost our lights and I needed new ones for getting home from yoga) and new grips for my handlebars. It cost me far too much money.
I also looked at cleats/click shoes (I am mad keen on these ones, but not too hopeful). I’m not sure of their names, though I did ask the bike guy. Wikipedia tells me cleats are just specialist sports shoes with spikes. So who knows what you call the cycling ones. Basically, they’re special shoes that have a little locky thing on the sole that clicks into a locky thing in your pedal. Why bother with that rubbish? It makes pedaling more efficient – you make better use of your muscles and your foot moves around less on the pedal, stopping you wasting energy with wiggling. So to get this set up happening, you need special pedals and special shoes. The shoes are quite stiff and can be super-daggy or fairly ok. I think I only want them because The Squeeze has them. New click-wearers tend to stack it a few times at first until they learn how to work the quick release.
I’m not sure whether these things will make me cooler/a better cyclist/a consumption stooge. But for a girl who’s been browsing far too many (make sure you check out the little movie on that one) bike sites, it’s actually pretty impressive that I haven’t suddenly decided to dump my perfectly serviceable Apollo road bike for something ridiculously expensive and terribly sexy. ..

.. it is sexy, though.
Anyway, after a little wander through the bike shop and a quiet (private) mock of the fashionista bloke buying his first fixy (enjoy that no-gears, no-break thing, dood – especially with your perfectly white dunlop volleys, immaculately shaved and tanned legs and perfectly perfect designer shorts), I left Newtown.
And went to Petersham for a cake. The flourless chocolate cake at Sweet Bellam is fabulous. Their coffee is ordinary, but it’s a very nice place to have a sit and a read and a cake. Petersham was rocking with groups of senoras on the lookout for spunky older gentlemen and “coffee! coffee!” so I had to be very careful making my way down to the other back-roads path home.
There is a system of back-road designated bike routes which I don’t really understand. The one I used a lot is the ‘L5’, though I’m also into the ‘L10’. I thought they were prepaid only bus route numbers. But there’re also pretty well-signed bike routes. Roads are usually shitfully bumpy and crap, but they’re quieter, wider, safer roads. Don’t seem to join up properly, but that could be because I’m not following them properly. Anyways, they’re worth the look.
Looked at lots of bike pron. I’ve just waded through a heap of sites, including:
this RTA bike route map collection which I can’t seem to understand.
the city of Sydney’s new Cycle Way, which ties into the Jan Gehl assessment of Sydney (as discussed here on City Of Sound. I don’t really understand the new cycle way yet because I don’t know the city roads or areas well enough to understand the practicalities and issues involved.
– a lecture on the Powerhouse’s bike collection via their their weekly lecture series
bike bus project website, where I felt a little bit frustrated. I’m not interested in getting into the freakin’ hardcore yahr! masculinity of the real-steele/fixy scene (mostly because I’m packing a uterus, and they’re not really appropriate in that scene – apparently you’re harder hardcore if you risk your gonads wearing them on the outside while you cycle), but I’m not really into these semi-lame government/council initiatives, either. I’m just not sure where I stand, really. With my friends or The Squeeze or on my own, probably.
– and, finally wished I’d seen this rider spoke thing earlier.
Had a little think about my ‘goals’, as a badass cycling feministah. I’m very attracted to the steel is real/fixy thing. If only because it is so tattooed, no-cleats, RAHR! badassin’ hadcore. And male-dominated. I like to think of myself as all those things (sans tatts, though), and I do like to push myself into male-dominated scenes. I also like it as an alternative to the happy-clappy, hand-holding hippy cycling world. Or to the shave-your-legs, wear-lycra, ride-down-highways-really-quickly crowd. But I don’t think I could really be bothered.
I want equipment that’s tough and hard-wearing, so I don’t have to replace it.
I’m not really interested in brands, but I’m not like those fixy-fashionistas who peel all the stickers off their bikes to be cool in a sort of faux-op-shop Revival sort of way.
I want to get maximum efficiency from my body by using the right equipment, but I don’t want to buy stuff ‘just because’. My old bike is perfectly adequate. My flouro yellow rain jacket is daggy but safe (and kind of stinky atm). My new helmet isn’t skatin’ rad, but it is safe and good quality. Do I need clicks? Do I need lycra pants? In the latter case, I definitely need some sort of new shorts situation – I’ve lost so much weight none of the shorts in our house fit me any more.
All of this is, of course, some sort of desperate attempt to distract myself from not dancing. It’s classic transferral. I need to resolve my feelings about not being able to dance. Or I could just throw myself into another activity obsessively. I’m sure as shit not doing any sewing these days. But gardening… that’s another story (remind me to blog our seedies’ progress).
So it’s been kind of a big day. I’m so glad I’m back on my bike, and back exploring Sydney. Next I’m going to find some way to explore the beaches. Possibly a train/bike combo.
Yes, please.

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