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Cycling



Around the Bay in a Day 2010

or

SMSs from the Front

or

Not Fat Bastard Again!

or

When Does the Fun Start?

With contributions from Steve and Matt and photos from Steve's phone.

Mike and Steve had opted to fly to Melbourne on Friday morning, while Danny, Bob, and I were to drive down in Danny's Land Rover, carrying all our bikes. Matt was flying down Saturday afternoon.

The weather was somewhat less than promising, however, we terrestrials started out in reasonable conditions, especially compared to that being encountered by the jet setters as they disembarked in Melbourne.

SMSs:
“Arrived OK, but pissing down and cold!”
“Danny's just donning his sunnies. We'll see if we can drag some sunshine in our slipstream.”
“What slipstream? Land Rovers having slipstreams, I don't think so; only down a mine shaft.”
“Are you suggesting that Melbourne is not at the bottom of a mine shaft?”
“More like a well at the moment!”
“Hope you are wearing your floaties.”
“They're permanently attached!”

Anyway, before too long we too encountered the bad weather. The worst of it was as we were approaching Holbrook. Here the road had already developed so many pot holes that the trucks had opted to drive in the right lane, which had suffered less.

There were several places where the left lane was covered with water. I passed one car, as it returned to the left after overtaking a puddle, only to find that the next puddle covered both lanes. Knowing the overtaken car would look to move back to the right lane, where the puddle was clearly shallower, I opted to plough into the puddle rather than slow. The puddle was quite an effective brake, leaving me searching the cabin for where I'd left the gear stick - no that's the water bottle - ah there it is. Well it gave the water time to drain from the windscreen.

While filling up in Holbrook, where we had planned to have lunch, we fell into to talking to a biker. The bad weather had forced this poor fellow to slow to 120km/hr in places. He had heard from some truckies that the police had plans to close the highway south of Holbrook, so we postponed lunch to Wodonga. As it turned out, the worst of the flooding was behind us.

As we arrived on the outskirts of Melbourne, we took instruction from Danny's new toy, a navigation computer. The route it tried to take us seemed convoluted to me, though not as convoluted as the route we took in our attempts to follow its instructions. We finally arrived at the right place, thanks to a little assistance from Steve via mobiles, with all bikes in tact.

On Saturday morning, we breakfasted at a place called No.5, which provided a number of pool balls in a glass jar (all numbered 5) as a table ornament. This prompted Mike to comment that he may as well do the same with his balls for all the use they get. After a momentís awkward silence, he clarified: “I mean my snooker balls!”

We then visited Alexandra Gardens, the ride start, to see if we could alter Bob's ride options, so that he could ride anti-clockwise with the rest of us. There were no places available on the other route options for Bob to swap to and we were told, quite emphatically, that if he were to ride anti-clockwise, that he would not be allowed on the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento.

We left the bikes in the Land Rover until Saturday afternoon. I seem to recall that someone suggested a warm-up ride, but that was not greeted with much enthusiasm.

Saturday night we were all awakened at around two o'clock by the race organisers' SMS:
“Hi (insert name here) HBA Around the Bay Update: Reduced capacity on ferry due to a breakdown. Likely delays during peak period. Bicycle Victoria”

The route data recorded by my Garmin during this event is available in the Routes section of this website. After bringing up the map for our weekend rides, you'll need to click on the white “M” in a blue square beside where it states “Port Philip Bay”.

We planned to leave the flat on Sunday morning at 5:15 in order to arrive at Alexandra Gardens for the 5:30 start. With Bob still cosily tucked up in bed and us only slightly daunted by the chilly weather, we managed to get away, a little later than planned, arriving at the start at the moment the bikes were set going, giving us a perfect rolling start. I'd credit it to equal measures of arse and class.

Bob, on the other hand, arrived at the start for his group at the official time of 6:30, only to be held back for three-quarters of an hour before being let go.

The start of the ride is in the dark, through the streets of Melbourne, resulting in us being stopped regularly at traffic lights, making it difficult to stay together, whilst avoiding other riders. Here and there were riders stopped by the side of the road for one reason or another, and in the stop-start mayhem the occasional rider fell. Steve felt quite uncomfortable in these conditions; me? I was too oblivious to care.

There were bollards setup along the road in places, intended to separate the riders from the traffic, however, with the density of riders at this stage of the ride, the pack was spread either side of the bollards. In places the bollards were not aligned to the direction of travel, as they were attempting to either broaden or narrow the width of road dedicated to the riders. In these places, you could not see the bollards until the rider just in front of you made a last minute change of direction to avoid it, leaving you with just enough time to do likewise, but no time to signal the rider behind.

On one gentle rise, a rider fell across our path. I veered right (unnoticed), leaving Steve room to demonstrate his much lauded (by Steve) skill in avoiding the rider. Matt was not so fortunate and, after hitting Steve, collected the fallen rider, landing on his right. Mike and Danny were a little distance back and so were clear of the incident. Matt was quickly back in the saddle and off again, with a slightly sore hip, but had to complete the ride with a bent wheel.

By the time the pack started to thin, I found myself drafting behind Matt, with the others somewhere behind. Matt: “We'll wait for them at the drinks stop”. Well the first drinks stop came and went (Matt was reluctant to stop for drinks at a sewage treatment works). Somewhere between that and the next, I let Matt go, continuing at my own pace to the second drinks stop, where I waited for the others.

Steve, meanwhile, had ridden clear of Mike and Danny. He was particularly amused by the jersey of one very rotund rider: “The Fat Bastard's Cycling Club for people who enjoy eating but have a cycling disorder”. Sometime after passing this rider, Steve suffered a puncture. Whilst fixing that, Fat Bastard passed him.

With the tube repaired, Steve was soon to pass Fat Bastard, before reaching me at the second drinks stop, where we continued to wait for Danny and Mike. While waiting, we noticed Fat Bastard passing.

At some point along this leg, I failed to clip in when starting uphill at a set of traffic lights. As a result of rolling back and thanks to bicycles not employing quadrature encoders, I recorded a maximum speed of 93 kilometres per hour.

It wasn't long before the rain started to return. Matt had fallen in with a group of garrulous, amicable cyclists. You'll find most cyclists to be amicable, as the arse holes would be at home stuffed in a lounge with a beer and race guide listening to Alan Jones. Matt's group were managing an average speed of 28 km/hr for this leg of the trip, braving the rain and crosswinds, not to mention cyclists in see-through knicks

Our group persisted riding through the rain till we reached Port Arlington. It was ten o'clock with pretty miserable conditions, so we decided to stop for coffee. By the way, we had passed Fat Bastard once more.

SMSs:
“Hi heroes, hope all is going well and the weather is kind. Geoff and I have just done the Halcrows route in good sunshine. P and G.”
“It's pissing down here. Steve keeps asking ‘When does the fun start?’, whilst looking wistfully to the stairs. ‘No, Steve, it's been done before!’. Lost Matt, Bob had to go the other way around. M, D, S, and G.”

From Port Arlington, the route took us to and along the coast. This was the nicest part of the ride so far, and, as well, the weather had eased and the road was flat.

As the route turned back away from the coast to unite with the 210km ride option and take us to Queenscliff, the road took on a slight uphill gradient. Here, we, again, passed Fat Bastard.

According to Danny, the final 12 kilometres to Queenscliff was to be a 1% downhill gradient - bull dust!

The roads that we had encountered on this leg of the ride could be compared to, for the Sydney-based reader, a combination of the M7, M4, Paramatta Road and Silverwater Road.

We arrived at Queenscliff at 11:30, but ten minutes late to be given tickets for the 1:00 ferry, so had to settle for the 2:00 one.

And Steve missed out on his vegetarian lunch.

He had to settle for a chicken sandwich.

We managed to meet up with Bob here, as he disembarked from his ferry (Sorrento to Queenscliff).

We found the lunch break and subsequent ferry ride were quite relaxing, with the sun starting to poke through, but it had allowed Fat Bastard to catch us once more. Matt, on the other hand, having arrived when the rain was still with us, had a pretty miserable lunch and crossing.

Steve and Greg on the Ferry
Steve and Greg on ferry, as photographed by a pretty pink Turramurra Cyclery lass - hence the smiles.

Getting off the ferry, we commenced the final hundred or so kilometres with some apprehension, as Steve, Mike and I were starting to feel it in our legs and my sitting bones were making their presence felt as well - a discomfort that I suspect Fat Bastard had never experienced.

The rain had passed, the day was looking almost passable, and we were making steady progress until I succumbed to drawing pin sabotage. There were half-a-dozen other riders similarly inflicted. When Danny and I last did this ride, there had been a similar sabotage incident involving drawing pins and I have since learned from other riders that the same thing had happened last year. Obviously, not all the arse holes were stuffed in a lounge, listening to Alan Jones. I took out my three spare tubes, the first was obviously patched, so I chose the second, which upon unrolling, also revealed a patch, but not wanting to antagonise Steve and Mike further, I used it. It proved to have a slow leak - an undetected puncture from a previous incident, so I had a second puncture stop - more haste, less speed.

Needless to say, Fat Bastard passed us once more.

SMS:
“Finished 250km. Matt”

Matt and his adopted group of cyclists had taken full advangate of the improved road conditions on this leg of the ride, managing to average 32 km/hr from Sorrento to Melbourne.

Meanwhile, at around the 210 km mark, with forty kilometres to go, we noticed that Fat Bastard had pulled into a service station, and was phoning a friend with a fag in the other hand. Steve had finally won his battle with obesity! Still, you have to admire someone carrying that much weight who can complete even 210 kilometres.

This segment of the journey is, certainly, the prettiest, as the road closely hugs the coastline, where it features beach after beach.

With about twenty kilometres to go, my sitting bones were not prepared to take much more. With my mind, now, exclusively focussed on reaching the end and getting my arse off the bike, I found myself pulling away from the others, causing Danny to have to catch up and haul me in when Steve started feeling feeling out-of-sorts - perhaps the chicken. We moved over into a beachside car park, where Steve took time to recover and the rest of us refilled out water bottles.

On the road again and we were soon back in Melbourne, where we received a quick introduction to the concept of hook turns, which sorted the natives from the out-of-towners.

At around 6:30, four very relieved riders reached Alexandra Gardens. Bob had already arrived. Matt had probably showered, rested, and was itching to prepare for the Fitz Challenge. We managed an average speed of 27 km/hr.

Steve, Mike, Greg, and Danny at end
Steve, Mike, Greg, and Danny at Alexandra Gardens after the ride. That's not a distortion of the fish-eyed lens: Steve's head was actually exploding and Mike really is a leprechaun.
SMS:
“Well done you heroes! Hope it was fun. Now rehydrate and warm up. See you next week. Peter”

We made a bee-line to the Spokes Bar.

In spite of protestations to the contrary, Steve maintains that he did, indeed, have fun. Though only Danny is prepared to back up for the ride again.

Everything that you always wanted to know about Quadrature Encoders, but were afraid to ask

For those of you without an engineering background and wishing to understand the earlier reference to quadrature encoders, here is a quick introduction.

A bicycle, these days, measures distance, and hence speed, by means of a magnet mounted on a wheel spoke and a sensor mounted of the frame on the bike, which allows the counting of revolutions of the wheel. Diagramatically, this could be represented below:


Signal: _|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|_

Count:  -1----------------2----------------3----------------4----------------5-----

The above diagram shows the count increases by one each time the magnet is detected.

Now, for quadrature encoding, instead of counting each revolution as 1, you would count 4 and divide this by four to get the number of revolutions, as shown below:


Signal: _|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|_

Count:  -4----------------8----------------12---------------16---------------20----

Of course, this is no improvement at all, however, what we do is use two sensors in place of one, arranged so that the magnet activates one before the other, but activates the other before deactivating the first. That is, the sensors are very close to one another along the arc traversed by the magnet as the wheel turns. This results in two signals as shown below:


A:      _|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|_

B:      ___|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^

Now the count in incremented by one when:

  1. signal A rises, whilst signal B is low,
  2. signal B rises, whilst signal A is high,
  3. signal A falls, whilst signal B is high, and
  4. signal B falls, whilst signal A is low.

So this results in the following counting:


A:      _|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|_

B:      ___|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^

Count:  -1-2-3-4----------5-6-7-8----------9 and so on.

On the other hand, the count is decremented by one when:

  1. signal B rises, whilst signal A is low,
  2. signal A rises, whilst signal B is high,
  3. signal B falls, whilst signal A is high, and
  4. signal A falls, whilst signal B is low.

Now, if you reconsider the single sensor under the conditions, where the wheel is momentarily reversed just after the magnet passes the sensor, the situation would be as shown below:


        Forward--------------->|<-Reverse->|<-------------Forward----------------->
	
Signal: _|^^^|____________|^^^|_|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________

Count:  -1----------------2-----3----------------4----------------5----------------

Now the speed is based on the time between counts, which, in the above illustration, is very short between 2 and 3, causing a false high speed to be measured.

Consider the same situation with quadrature encoders:


        Forward--------------->|<-Reverse->|<-------------Forward----------------->
	
A:      _|^^^|____________|^^^|_|^^^|____________|^^^|____________|^^^|____________

B:      ___|^^^|____________|^^^^^|________________|^^^|____________|^^^|__________

Count:  -1-2-3-4----------5-6-7-6-5-4------------5-6-7-8----------9 and so on.

So, with the above signals, the bicycle speedo would know that the bicycle had gone backwards and would not record silly top speed figures.

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