Saturday, 12 November 2011

Danny MacAskill riding in Cape Town - Cape Town Blog

Danny MacAskill riding in Cape Town - Cape Town Blog:

'via Blog this'

This is a truly amazing video of trick cycling in and around Cape Town. It seems to prove my often-tested hypothesis that gravity seems to overlook certain individuals while unfairly focusing its steady gaze on others (my poor self included). 

I defy anyone to watch the video and disagree with me! 

Monday, 31 October 2011

Cycle to Work Day

cycle to work this ‘transport month’ | urban sprout:

'via Blog this'

"Cycle to Work Day" here in Cape Town occurs roughly every month, and is supported by the Pedal Power Association, the Bicycle Empowerment Network, and various other organised cycling clubs.

Recent "Cycle to Work day's" have taken place on the 7th of September and 19th of October 2011, with more to follow roughly the same time each month.

My take on the purpose of the initiative is to increase the visibility of those of us who love bikes and are lucky enough to be able to make the trip to work on two wheels. Increasing the profile of cycle commuters will encourage others to join the movement, enhance safety (not because there's safety in numbers and the weak riders will be picked off first, but because 10 riders are harder to ignore in traffic than 1!), and ultimately convince the authorities that cycle commuting is a legitimate alternative worthy of resources.

I am lucky enough to walk to work along the fan walk, from St George's right through to central Green Point, and on my stroll I see cyclists daily. What is even more encouraging to me is that the number of cycle commuters is definitely increasing - there's absolutely no question about it. There are some amazing bikes sharing the route with me, from well crafted fixies to very charming retro bikes and everything in between. As an interested bystander, I would readily conclude that cycle commuting in our beloved Cape Town is gaining traction.

The beneficial effects of cycling to work, on both the rider and the traffic that is spared, speak for themselves. We here in the Mother City are truly fortunate that the infrastructure has been laid out for us already, virtually on a silver platter, and it's now up to the cycling community to follow through by supporting initiatives like these and showing the rest of the public that an alternative to heavy traffic is out there.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bicycle taxis

Cape Town boasts a fleet of bicycle taxis during the summer months, which can be seen around the Company's Gardens ferrying tourists from one point of interest to the next. The sight of the two-seaters with their smiling "drivers" is enough to put a smile on anyone's face as they roll past. It's such a pleasure to see that this concept is being taken further elsewhere in the city. I'm sure the residents of Lavender Hill will appreciate this new addition to their local landscape...

Bicycle taxis put community in driving seat - Cape Argus |

'via Blog this'

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cyclist hit by antelope

Cyclist hit by antelope: SA cyclist Evan van der Spuy was hit by a red hartebeest during a race at Albert Falls Dam in KZN. He wasn't seriously injured, but his helmet was shattered.

OK, I know that we're all very unlikely to encounter any errant antelopes on the streets of Cape Town, but this is still an incredible scene! It probably goes to show that no matter where one chooses to ride, traffic is always going to be an issue...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Peninsula Route

There are many good rides in and around Cape Town, with enough variety between them to ensure that no matter which way the wind blows, there will always be an option for those who want to ride.

The Peninsula Route

This is a fantastic route that features part of the world famous Argus Cycle Tour route (consider this the pointy end of the world's largest timed sports event). On a calm morning early in the season, it's not hard to see why this route has captured the imagination of every bicycle owner in SA...

The Peninsula Route follows a clockwise circuit of the beautiful and characteristically peaceful coastal road that winds its way down the eastern side of the peninsula. The road passes through Fish Hoek and the picturesque Simon's Town on the south-bound first leg, which ends with a sharp climb up Smitswinkel hill. Look out for the remote accommodation on the rugged shores to the left, and try to avoid any baboons! 

Baboons on Smitswinkel
After cresting Smitswinkel with its infamous double-rise, the road turns west and any southerly head-wind soon becomes a sublime tail-wind. From here the route crosses to the western edge of the peninsula before passing through Scarborough and Misty Cliffs. Expect to see some very high speed on this fantastic, semi-rural leg of the ride! 

All good things must come to an end and so, too, will the tail-wind of the north-bound leg. Before long, the road reaches Kommetjie and the route again heads wind-ward towards Fish Hoek. Beware of traffic on this leg of the trip - after the quiet bliss of the southernmost part of the tour, even a scooter will seem obtrusive! 

Once back on Main Road in Fish Hoek, the route heads north back into Kalk Bay. Be sure to make a bee-line for the Olympia Cafe, where you can buy Cape Town's own Truth coffee, catch the weekend paper and soak up that great Kalk Bay atmosphere.

Thanks, again, Google! 

To see this route on google maps, simply click on the link below:

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Word of the day: Chiasmus
"Figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point."
A good example: "H/She was nice from far, but far from nice".

An even better example: 
Chiasmus graffiti: insightful

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Local Bike Shop Reviews - Revolution Cycles

There is a kind of magic that exists within the confines of all bike shops. The scents of rubber, oil and metal come together to take your imagination for a ride that preempts the many rides those brand new bikes are destined to take at the hands of their future owners.

Cape Town has a good spread of excellent bike shops, both physical and online. A short while ago I posted a picture of my new road bike (and still current fling!), and it was during the search for this perfect machine that I had cause to visit many of them. This post, then, will be the first in a series of authentic, first-hand accounts of what each of our city's bike shops has to offer. Call it a series of reviews, if you will.

First, though, I need to make full disclosure: As I've already mentioned, I did buy a bike - and boy oh boy is it a beauty. 2011 Giant TCR aluxx sl, 65cm (to go with my extra long limbs!) with Shimano 105 group-set. I could go on for days about the bike - and probably will post a full write-up once I've spent more time in the saddle. I bought the bike from Olympic Cycles, but I won't factor this into my reviews - I promise! 

Local Bike Shop Review #1 - Revolution Cycles
33°55'26.36" S  18°24'54.86" E

Dubbed "Cape Town's Coolest Bicycle Store", Revolution Cycles owes its name to the inspiration its owner received from Che Guevara's "Motorcycle Diaries" and the Cuban revolution. The clearly visible store-front is situated near the top of Bree Street. (Full marks for ease of access and parking!) 

The first thing you'll notice about Revolution Cycles is how friendly the proprietor and staff are. They really capture the ethos of the "LBS" (Local Bike Store, for those who haven't encountered the acronym - yet). 

The store stocks mostly mountain bikes, but every time I've visited there have been a couple of delectable road bikes on display and even the odd fixie! The ratio between road bikes to mountain bikes reflects sales trends: I was told that 5 mountain bikes are sold for every road bike! (I've often wondered why - any comments?)

The shop sells all the accessories, magazines, supplements and apparel one could ask for. Revolution Cycles has clearly paid a lot of attention to its branding and it's even possible to pick up Revolution Cycles branded clothing bearing iconic references to Che.

Usefully, the store stocks a selection of highly desirable Thule bike carriers - the best in the market for securing precious cargo to our second-favourite modes of transport! 

Revolution stocks Specialised, Schwinn, Rocky Mountain, Merida and Felt bikes, at prices which one would reasonably expect to pay for these mid- to high-end machines. They also sell second hand bikes on behalf of private owners. All second hand bikes are given a full service to ensure they're in top working order. Not surprisingly, the store boasts a full workshop.

In my opinion, Revolution Cycles covers all the bases and adds to the mix ease of access and a very friendly owner. What's more, the shop has the atmosphere of a place where, even if business was slow (which it doesn't ever seem to be) the staff would still arrive early and leave late. To sum up, it's possibly the finest example of an LBS in the city bowl. 

Revolution Cycles, almost on the corner of Bree and Pepper

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cycle Lanes

Cape Town has taken a dynamic approach to installing new cycle lanes in the city's old streets and alleys. The result of this careful strategy is a network of attractive, well conceived interlinking lanes that allow cycle commuters to cross town with minimal interference from rush-hour traffic.

Paved side-streets shared with low traffic

Dedicated cycle lanes

Demarcated lane on normal street

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thanks, Google!

A few weeks ago I entered myself into the 2011 Die Burger cycle race in the road category, as well as the 2012 Cape Argus cycle tour. I’ve just bought a new Giant TCR road bike and the Burger will be my first race on a road bike, although I’ve already completed 2 Argus’s.

Being my first road race, I am fairly nervous about how it will pan out for me. As I see it, I have at least 3 problems:

  1. I have no idea (yet) how the bike will handle in a race. More specifically, I have no idea how I will handle being on the bike in a race. I’ve taken the Giant for a spin a couple of times so far and the one thing I keep marvelling at is how eager it is to go forward. I feel like I only need to breathe in hard in the saddle to make this wonder of manufacturing technology go forward. This is good news for me, but in the interests of self preservation I reserve the right to remain concerned.
  2. I am still technically a novice on a road bike. I haven’t changed a road tyre, and I only learnt what a presta valve is a few days ago, never mind leaning how to fix a puncture. If I have a technical I will in all likelihood be screwed.
  3. I haven’t ridden the course yet, so have no idea what to expect.
Problems 1 and 2 are easy to overcome with a little practice. Problem 3 requires a more energetic approach - or so I thought. One quiet evening a few days ago I had the brilliant idea of using Google, trusted friend it is, to help me out of this bind. With the race route open in one window and Google Earth open in another, a nifty screen-shot grabber at the ready and a blank word document ready and waiting, I was set. Painstakingly I plotted the entire course, carefully noting each major climb, intersection, landmark and straight. The plan went swimmingly, and after 2 hours I had a 5 page illustrated walk through. Nothing would take me by surprise...

Except the startling and unwelcome realisation that I’d plotted the entire route backwards.

Now, one would assume that this is an easy problem to overcome... Simply re-order the screen shots, et voila! But no, in my over-zealous state I’d made sure all of my carefully harvested images were low profile, with the horizon in view. Fail.
Screenshot Direction Fail.

A few numbed minutes and a face-palm later, I abandoned the project, and reverted to my old friend Google. Did he/she/it have any better solutions? No prizes for guessing...

Someone had had the same idea as me and not only tracked the route but magically created a Google Earth Tour of the entire course. Such was the magnitude of my appreciation for this benevolent soul, that I resolved then and there to share the news of this act of charity for all to see:

Now, somewhat vindicated and a little more prepared for that first race, my list of concerns is one item shorted. Too bad Google can’t help me out with the other items. Or can it...?

Thursday, 15 September 2011