One of the reasons we moved to Australia was for the climate. With apologies to everyone in Canada, and even more so to those in Edmonton, our home country isn’t a liveable place for several months each year. We came to realize, after tolerating several horrible winters in Alberta, that the lifestyle there isn’t conducive to healthy living – for several months each year, you really can’t go outside. So as we were planning the move, among the things we sold were our bicycles, because we knew that with the opportunity to ride for several (most? all?) months each year, we would want better ones.
In our first week here, Dan scouted out the bike shops. There are three that sell good bikes: Wagga Cycle, that sells mostly Giant bikes; Morgan Street Cycle, the local Trek dealer; and Kidsons, who sell Merida, Cervelo, Cannondale, really good bikes… After a bit of recon, he reckoned (Aussie for “figured out”) that Kidsons also had the best customer service. Yes, their bikes might be a bit more expensive than ones in the other shops, but you get what you pay for. So we went in together to pick out the actual items, and ended up coming out with bikes that were way more expensive than we had planned on buying. But they were also a lot better than we had planned on buying. And, because we were willing (make that happy) to buy older models, they were far less expensive than they could have been.
Do most of you know what good bikes – really good bikes – cost? Probably not. Let’s just say that bikes in bike shops in Wagga (as opposed to buying one at Big W or K-Mart) can cost between $500 and…well, Kidsons has a frame for $12000. Yes, a frame; no wheels, no gears, no brakes, no handlebars, no seat, just the frame, for the price of a small car. We don’t know how often they sell them, but we do see sleek and fast bikes gliding down the highway quite often. But we didn’t spend anywhere near that.
What we bought are Cannondale Quick Carbon 2 commuter bikes, meant for a variety of terrain (these bikes are so cool, they even have their own website). Lisa’s bike (half price for last year’s model) cost more that double what we had spent for both our bikes in Edmonton. Dan’s new one, because it was a larger frame, was a bit more. If we had purchased 2011 models, it would have been about 25% of the price of our car (gulp!). And Kidsons service was great – they tracked these down from their supplier, and to keep the price down brought in a ‘jumbo’ frame for Dan but altered the seat post and head stem to make it fit him.
Being made mostly of carbon fibre, as opposed to aluminum (pronounced phonetically in Oz as “al you min um“) or steel, they are very light. Lisa’s is about 10 kg; Dan’s is a bit heavier because it is bigger. They have a wide gear ratio so you can easily climb steep hills but also go quite fast. And the guy at Kidsons was really thrilled to be selling Lisa a bike this good. His opinion is that the better the bike, the more you will ride it, and with the gear ratio and the weight, these are very efficient bikes – you can ride a long time and not tire too much. He said that men often buy better bikes than women, and few men ever buy ones this good (unless they are hardcore road bike guys – and there are a lot of those around Wagga) so even fewer women buy them. He’s a bike geek, obviously, and so the idea of providing something this good made him happy. Lisa thought the colour (matte BBQ) was cool.
And we have been doing quite a bit of riding. We try to get out for 70 to 80 minutes every Saturday and Sunday, though sometimes other things come up. And before Dan started working, he was out for 90 to 100 minutes each day. (And thanks Wader for the tip on Cyclometer for iPhone – it’s a great app for keeping track of time, speed, calories burnt, etc.) As the days get longer with the onset of summer, we will figure out how to ride before or after work. Probably before, because it will be really hot after work. The roads here are quite safe for riding on, and we live close to some good bike ways. A typical hour-long ride might be 10 minutes of street, 39 minutes of paved trail, 7 minutes of hard-parked clay, 3 minutes of mud, and 1 minute of horse poop (multi-use trails here are really multi-use!).
The real point of this post was to point out that this past week was Bike Week in New South Wales. But along with bike week, it is also magpie season. Supposedly they are nesting and get quite aggressive when they are protecting their eggs, so cyclists make ‘antennae’ on their helmets, using cable ties, to scare the birds away. Lisa’s reaction when she saw Dan with them: “you look like an idiot”. He thinks it will help prevent him from being attacked by a territorial magpie, but she isn’t convinced that the risk of a bird attack outweighs looking silly.
Next up, more about Bike Week, and the trails we ride on and ones we want to ride on.