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