November 6, 2012

Sydney to Wollongong 2012

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 9:30 am

It’s over once again, and a big thanks to all who donated towards such a worthy cause. This year I have videotaped the entire thing and made a short movie about it. This is my first venture into movie making so excuse me if it’s a bit rusty:

This was a great ride and was enjoyed by all. It was great to be part of an excellent team.

October 26, 2012

Abusive bus drivers and ignorant call centres – does anyone know the road rules?

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 4:55 pm

Ignorant Bus driver It’s been a while since I posted here, mainly because I’ve either been too busy with work, away for holidays, or riding my bike in whatever free time I have. Part of my free time is spent on the commute to/from work. These days I’ve been trying to regain my fitness by riding to work, hence I haven’t had the capacity to post here.

Today is different. I’m catching a train and it’s because I’m still a little shaken from what happened yesterday. On the ride into work I was tailgated and abused by a sydney bus driver whilst I was riding into work.

Usually I do not have a problem with bus drivers, they are very courteous and usually once I pass them I never see them again anyway, due to the large number of stops on this road. However, yesterday was different. I was riding down Victoria Road toward the city. Things had been going pretty swell so far. I hit iron cove bridge and continued past the traffic at a high rate of speed, probably hitting around 45-50km/h for most of the stretch.

I could hear a honking in the distance. I figured it must have been one of those drivers that wants to get around the traffic by using the bus lane. I look back again and the number of cars seems to have dropped off but I still hear the honking. I pass an intersection and the last of the cars behind me turns off so it’s just a bus behind me now. Yet I still hear the honking.

I come to a stop behind another bus that takes off, I follow that bus and then the honking begins again. This time it sounds very close. I look behind me and there is a bus right on my tail. Literally inches away – perhaps 6-12 inches. I jump in shock, figuring that my life is in danger so I pull off and let the driver pass. Still he is honking at me.

He pulls over to pick up passengers at the top of the hill so I confront him and ask what his problem is. He states, “the bus lane is for buses, the bike lane is for bikes” or something like that with a few curse words thrown in. I ask him how the hell he got his license because knowing the rights of other road users is part of the test. I get no reply, I cannot remember what I said after this but by now I was quite upset so it was probably not very pleasant. I flip him the finger and continue on my way. He’s still honking.

I pull over and decide to report him. The lady at 131500 starts taking down details and then says something like “I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to ride in bus lanes during peak hours”! I was truly shocked to hear this. I ask her to check. I’m sitting there for quite a while waiting for a reply. She comes back simply with an “I don’t know” answer. I continue to report exactly what happened as well as the bus number and my contact details, wanting the depot to contact me. 131500 lady says I can contact RTA for the road rules.

I call the RTA number 132243, and am greeted by another helpful lady, who once again thinks that bicycles shouldn’t be allowed to ride in bus lanes. I challenge this response and we start going through the legislation.

Road rules 2008, part 158, 2, c, i:

“158 Exceptions to driving in special purpose lanes etc
(2) The driver of any vehicle may drive in a bicycle lane, bus lane, tram lane, transit lane or truck lane if: (c) the driver is (i) riding a bicycle in a bus lane (other than a bus only lane), tram lane, transit lane or truck lane”

Oh, look at this, it seems cyclists can ride in bus lanes, and there does not seem to be any limitations on timing or circumstance. Reading this for what it is, it groups bicycles with buses, taxis, and motorbikes. So if a bicycle is not allowed in the bus lane, neither is a bus!

By now I’m truly pissed off. I want to bury this bus driver, I’m going to contact the police. I call them on 131444 and start to run through what happened. And what am I confronted with? “Oh, I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to ride in bus lanes” – what the hell!!! I start going through the legislation, after which the lady says, “Oh, sorry I can not offer you any advice on that”, and then a couple of sentences later “but if you ever need any help on anything, you can call our number anytime.”. Help? define help! Were you helpful? Hell no. Not calling that number again.

So now I wait for a response from the depot. And maybe I will see if I can drop by a police station and log a formal report, regardless of the “legality” – I felt threatened and my life endangered. This is a huge failure of all NSW government departments I had contacted – it shows that there is a huge lack of education in all departments regarding the rights of road users, especially cyclists. Something seriously needs to be done about this.

Update: I was involved in another incident a week later, where a bus driver tried running me off the road (pictured). After this was reported the depot got back to me right away and unfortunately because the industry is so tightly unionized, the investigator can’t really do much, so he recommended I report them to the police. I called 131 444 again and this time got someone a bit more understanding. I still had to report it in person to a police office.

The people at the police office seemed a bit dismissive and needed some persuasion. I doubt much will be done, apparently the tapes are only kept for 2 weeks and it’s past that time now for the first incident. If anything at least a few drivers will learn that they can’t pick on cyclists.

And the shared use path following Victoria Road on the Iron Cove bridge is still closed.

November 7, 2011

Sydney to Gong – a big thanks

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 7:58 am
The Cellarbrations Team

Sydney to gong is over again, and thank you all who have supported me and helped fundraise over $400.

This year was different, as I wasnt riding alone this time, but instead as part of “team cellarbrations”, affiliated with the LACC and my previous employer, metcash.

What also made this year different was the lack of sleep, as it just happened that the Janet Jackson concert was the night before. With only 3 hours of sleep, it was a bit of a stretch for me.

At any rate, I managed to better last years’ attempt, having arrived before 9am. According to the speedo it was about 2 hrs and 38 minutes. It was different riding in a team but just as enjoyable.

September 14, 2011

Sydney to Gong – It’s on again!

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 4:20 pm

It’s on again!

I have entered the 2011 MS Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride and have committed to fundraise $1000.00 in support of people living with Multiple Sclerosis. This year MS Australia aims to raise $4.5 Million through the event, and I want to play my part and “ride for a purpose”.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system affecting more young adult Australians than any other neurological condition. Your donation will go directly towards providing a wide range of services and support to people living with MS.

Did you know?
- The average age of diagnosis of MS is just 30 years
- 3 times more women than men are affected by MS
- An estimated 20,000 people in Australia have MS
- There is no known cause or cure

Please take a moment to view my online fundraising web page and help me reach my goal. It”s quick and easy. You can donate securely online using your credit card by clicking on the link below:

All information is secure and all donations will be sent electronically to MS Australia ACT/NSW/VIC. A tax-deductible receipt will automatically be emailed to you once the donation is verified.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

May 24, 2011

The Great Hunter Cycling Classic

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 8:22 am

The Great Hunter Cycling Classic (or the all spokes festival as it is also known by) is a series of races held in the Hunter Valley, first a criterium on Saturday, then a 60 or 100 kilometre race held on Sunday. This was my first time at this race, and also the third race I had signed up for. Being as dumb and naive as I were, I decided I could do the 100km race. After all, I’ve done many 100km rides without issue, I should be able to hold my own. At least that’s what I was thinking…

I missed the criteriums, mainly because I don’t have the right license, but arrived on Sunday morning for registration and warm-up. Registration was easy; however pinning the numbers on took more time than it should
have. By 7:50 I was ready for warm-ups, which gave me barely 15 minutes. I still felt lethargic from the night before and the lack of a hearty breakfast.

Being such a long race, I was expecting it to start softly and then go from there. It was quite the opposite. As soon as the start was announced, everyone took off. The pace soon lifted to around 50km/h. Then it lifted again. I could feel my legs already, I was not prepared for such a start. After trying to hold on for about 10km the peloton started creeping away. And after the second hill I knew I could not catch them no more.

So I resigned to a recovery pace for a while, sticking it to around 30-35km/h. A few more hills and a couple of corners later I was passed by another group. I tacked onto the back of them and found their pace a lot more comfortable, sitting between 35-40km/h.

The next thing I didn’t see coming was the straight leading up the the finish line. The were more potholes on the road then there were bitumen. Just one awful patch-up job after the next. Going over these sections at 40km/h could be likened to sitting on top of an out of control machine gun. The bike was going everywhere. I dropped my chain at least once.. Lucky it was on the big ring.

The first lap was done and it was onto the second. Now the group had gotten a rhythm and everyone was humming along rather well. More hills, more potholes, and then another lap of the same. By the end of the fourth lap I could really feel my legs. Furthermore, the group was starting to pick up given that the final lap was around the corner.

In my mind, I fell as if my body had almost resigned that the last lap was a cool-down session, as soon as I passed the line everything just caved in. At the first hill my legs cramped up, one started working against the other. Things started getting a bit blurry and I found myself in a world of pain. I drank some water – it tasted like domestos – why did I have to fill my bottles at the hotel? Soon I saw my group fade into the distance. Then I was on my own.

It was a struggle. My legs aching, my chest sore, nothing top do but find a gear where I could sit comfortably at 90rpm and forget any chances of winning or even doing well. What was I thinking that I even had a chance? These guys were way too fast, and furthermore all my 100k rides have had breaks in them.

Soon it became a matter of mind versus body. Things were shutting down left right and centre. I started getting tunnel vision. My legs weren’t getting any better. I kept my eyes on the speedo. “90rpm”, I remind
myself, “keep it at 90rpm” – the hills came and I was out of gears. “Out of gears on a 6% incline? What’s wrong with you?” things start getting nasty and every antagonistic, anxiety-inducing thought comes out to play. Then it turns to “that bank on the left looks nice, lets get some sleep”, or just plain “ow, ow, ow, ow, ow”…

Finally the last corner comes in. I pass one guy that was obviously in the same world of pain I was. We shouted some encouraging words back at each other but soon lost touch. The potholes come around again and it’s almost as if my legs had come back to life – perhaps it were the bumps triggering some sort of adrenalin rush, or just that my legs had recovered whilst riding at snail pace.

I was counting the hills to the finish line, 3… 2… 1… The finish line was in sight – before I knew it, the 500m sign past, then 200m, 100m and then all I could hear were gears grinding – in the last 100m a group of riders passes. Where were they before? At any rate I placed somewhere in the middle of them and the race was over. And strangely I did not feel tired, exhausted, nor exhilarated. Just plain relaxed that it was all over. I guess I found my limits and experienced phenomenon I had only read about, in the end I was glad just to have finished.

It pays to set goals. My goals started out ambitious – “keep up with the group”, “try some tactics”, “have a good sprint at the finish”… It soon changed to “finish the race”, “don’t pass out”, “don’t throw up”… Funny how things change on the day and I always find myself short of preparation.

In the end it was a good ride, the scenery was excellent, the weather perfect, and even though there was a lot of pain, I had learned a lot about my limits. And I actually came out of the race feeling good, like it was all just one big workout. A coffee, a little bit of food and it was time to head back to the big smoke to recover whatever was left of the weekend.

January 4, 2011

Cycling in Jervis bay

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 11:52 am

This new years’ break was spent at the beautiful Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay NSW. Whilst the weather was not fantastic (apart from a few days thankfully), the cold and cloudy mornings allowed me to get some cycling time in. I had decided to take the commuter bike down the coast as it is an MTB, even though it had the slicks fitted it could still be taken off-road.

It’s strange that so many people do not consider Jervis bay as a cycling destination. At least in the early morning, the roads are rather quiet, there is no shortage of wildlife to see, and whilst there are many hills most of them are mild and rolling. There were many times that I would be the only one on the road – only the hum of the tyres and the birds’ calls filled the air. No traffic. No pedestrians. No pollution.

It was not long before I found a good route to take. The Shoalhaven city council has listed numerous rides on their website, the most appropriate ride I found was ride A15 – this ride is probably the closest to the Hyams Beach and did not involve riding on the beach at low tide (unfortunately it was always high tide whenever I wanted to ride). The A15 ride took in views of the Basin and also of the country around the Jervis bay area. And back along the urban tourist drive for good measure.

I had seen on google maps that there were tracks leading from the Vincentia golf club through the bush to Hyams beach. I decided to take this route and it was quite rewarding. Even though the MTB had the Schwalbe Kojak slicks fitted they handled well, although they did get a bit ‘taily’ in the sandy areas. They were excellent on the gravel and rocks, and even held their own in muddy areas, surprisingly. The last 2km or so leading down to the beach was almost entirely downhill, allowing the bike to pick up some speed and for me to test out the tyres. They did well, though packing for home it was obvious why the manufacturer did not recommend them for off-road use – there were many abrasions on the sidewalls, but no cuts (I wish road tyres were made that well).

I have posted two rides to

  • Road Loop, a basic ride on the road
  • MTB Loop, including a tour of Sanctuary Bay and the off-road portion after the golf course

Here’s some photos I took on the ride. As you can see, there is quite some nice scenery and wildlife (I did actually ride straight past that Kangaroo but was too wimpy to get close to it later to take a photo).

Sunrise from Sanctuary bay

Kangaroo at Sanctuary bay

Scenic Valley after Tomerong (It's not as steep as you think)

The view from Greenfields beach

Lookout point between Greenfields and Chinamans Beach

November 24, 2010

Bicycle gearing calculator

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 3:17 pm

I know there’s a few of these around on the Internet but I thought it would be nice to create one of my own. The gearing calculator shows you what sort of speeds you can get out of your current gearing. Also, I’ve added things such as gear inches and gain ratio. The gain ratio even takes into account the crank length that you are using, amongst other things.

Try it out here: Bicycle Gear Calculator

Bicycle Gearing Chart

Bicycle Gearing Chart

November 11, 2010

MS Sydney to Wollongong ride – a big thanks

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 3:31 pm

Thanks to all who donated their money to the Multiple Schlerosis Foundation in support of my ride from Sydney to Wollongong.

All up, it was about 88km in 2 hours and 55 minutes. The weather held out for a beautiful day, albeit a bit chilly in the morning. The event was very well organised and I was impressed with the level of enthusiasm shown by so many volunteers, it really lifted the spirits to be cheered on by many whom were living or supporting people with the disease.

The starting line opened at around 6am, probably 500 or so people left at the same time, of which I was towards the end of the bunch. It was a bit tricky at first trying to find space to ride with so many people around so I took it pretty easy. After we hit the main roads things started to spread out a bit and I was getting to a comfortable pace. Things continued on that way through to the Royal National Park, which took all the riders down a steep, wet winding descent through some low lying cloud, it was pretty surreal. Coming back up was not quite as difficult as the way down. I was quite surprised, you might be riding uphill for a couple of hundred metres, then down a little, then up again. It was relatively easy to maintain a good pace.

Heading towards coalcliff the pace picked up, I found myself doing around 42 km/h for a while until I reached a group of cyclists who had stopped. I prepared myself for the worst – thinking that perhaps a rider had fallen off or gotten hit by a car I was reasonably relieved to see that it was just a ute that had rolled into a ditch holding the traffic up. Once we got the clear-all from the police it was back on the saddle again and I tagged along with the bunch until Coalcliff.

Another big descent, albeit a dry one this time, led to the Seacliff bridge – this was an awesome spot to slow down a little and soak in the view, then it was a matter of going back up again. This time the hills were a bit longer, aggravated moreso by the fact that the road was still open to traffic, which made it difficult to pass some other cyclists.

After that it was a cruisy trip. All the turns were signposted, the more difficult ones were manned by volunteers. We had to stop to let some traffic pass before another winding descent down to Wollongong. The police did a great job of directing traffic. One even commented on the bandanna I had wore beneath my helmet, “Bogans don’t need helmets do they?” Confused and sort of offended at being called a bogan, I asked him what he meant, but soon figured it was a joke and moved on. Can’t afford to offend the police.

Getting towards to finish line led us down a shared cycleway following the beach and some new housing developments – Wollongong is looking pretty nice these days. Decided to take it easy to the finish line, reaching the end was a mixed feeling of relief and bewilderment – like, is that it?

I had pre-ordered a bike lift back to Sydney, that was probably a mistake. I had arrived in Wollongong at just before 9:00am, however the buses did not start until 11:15. The first bus left around 11:30 and didn’t arrive in Sydney until 12:45, then we had to wait about half an hour for the bikes, which meant I wasn’t on my way back home until around 1:30, giving time for the bikes to get off the truck. This is probably a good option for someone who leaves a little later, but I think in the future I’ll be catching the train. Or, perhaps just ride back, after all it did take around 5 hours for me to get home and only 3 hours to get there.

Anyway, I’ll stop complaining. The ride was overall good and something I’ll definitely do again. Here’s some photos:

The starting line, around 5:50am

The starting line, around 5:50am

Temperature at the starting line: 14.5 degrees celsius

Temperature at the starting line: 14.5 degrees celsius

The view coming out of the Royal NP

The view coming out of the Royal NP

The finish line

The finish line

Wollongong beach (north)

Wollongong beach (north)

View from Stuart park

View from Stuart park

October 19, 2010

Please sponsor me!

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 10:26 am

I have entered the 2010 MS Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride and have committed to fundraise $1000.00 in support of people living with Multiple Sclerosis. This year MS Australia aims to raise $4,000,000 through the event, and I want to play my part and “ride for a purpose”.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system affecting more young adult Australians than any other neurological condition. Your donation will go directly towards providing a wide range of services and support to people living with MS.

Please take a moment to view my online fundraising web page and help me reach my goal. It”s quick and easy. You can donate securely online using your credit card by clicking on the link below:

All information is secure and all donations will be sent electronically to MS Australia ACT/NSW/VIC. A tax-deductible receipt will automatically be sent to your inbox once the donation is verified.

Did you know?
- The average age of diagnosis of MS is just 30 years
- 3 times more women than men are affected by MS
- An estimated 20,000 people in Australia have MS
- There is no known cause or cure

Your support is greatly appreciated.

September 23, 2010

Turn right, next stop Parramatta river

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 3:57 pm

I really don’t know what they were thinking when they partially closed the gates on the shared use paths at Sydney olympic park the other day and left this misleading arrow sign directing it’s users into the parramatta river…

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