Tuesday, September 20

Jean Pierre Sancho

I could say that I love Jean Pierre Sancho because of their delivery bike. Which is true.

I could say it's my favourite  patisserie because the seats are large and well upholstered (like the bottoms of regular clients). Which is also true.

But, the real reason that I love this place is that the macaroons are the most perfect, heavenly combination of a thin, crisp crust, with a sweet, moist middle and an unctious, creamy filling. I can literally inhale these perfumed, little morsels . . . and that's the truth. Sigh!

Friday, September 16

Dahon's Maiden Bus Trip

 I've recently purchased a Dahon D7 Boardwalk. No, it's not a spiffy, 'oh-so-cute' Brompton (and wouldn't we all love to have one of those). I thought long and hard about the reasons why I was taking the plunge into multiple bike ownership and under what circumstances I would be using a folder and realized, bike-lust aside, I really couldn't justify a Brommie.

It all started with the adoption of a Beagle from a once-loving, now broken, home. I have owned Beagles in the past and know the best bet for a harmonious relationship with this particular breed of scent-hound (read: stubborn hoover on legs) is to exhaust them with long walks. You still won't get to keep the rubbish bin at floor level, but, you may get to retain matching socks. Don't get me wrong, she is docile, incredibly affectionate and I adore her, but, there is a reason that Beagles are always mentioned in the 'Top 10 Hardest Dogs to Train' lists. So, it seems that a 5km morning walk and a 2.5km evening walk are now mandatory for 'yours truly' irrespective of my dominant 'couch potato' genes.

 The other factor that pushed me towards the purchase was the sinking of the Perth Central Train Station. This is a long-term project that is going to take a couple of years. It has always been common practise for Transperth to attend line maintenance on the weekends, but, the rail closure has more than doubled since they've started work on the new station. Normally, I enjoy riding one of the lines and take the messed up timetable in my stride. It's understandable they do the work on the weekends when the majority of people aren't commuting and Transperth is very good about updating it's website, so, (as long as you remember to check) there are no nasty surprises.

However, of late, with a few double line closures I have not felt like riding 22km along a cloying freeway of petrol fumes and roadworks, or cycling the scenic 34km route home only to turn around and grab the dog lead. The stats for the 40 hours from Fri PM to Sun AM have been: Cycling 136km; Dog walking 15km; Working (on the floor with Nursing Assistants) 20hrs;  Sleep (on average) 4hrs. Bottom line - I'm getting too old to keep my sense of humour at this pace!

 By taking the Dahon and, therefore, the rail replacement bus I am knocking 100kms of cycling off the tally of physical activity for the 40hrs . . . and it feels fantastic! I had my maiden tryout last weekend and felt very spoilt indeed. I still need practise at folding the bike and currently look rather furtive whilst doing so in public - as though I'm trying to stuff a body into a trunk unnoticed. As I was thus occupied, arse in the air, I heard the bus driver say, "I hope that's not a bike?"

Well, being a little flustered to begin with, I felt my bosom shudder with indignation and the beginnings of a heavy scowl (which I normally try and avoid as my family is quite furry and scowls always threaten to present as a mono-brow). It is common knowledge that I would rather be fined $100 by a polite and cheerful public servant than be let off with a warning by a self-important, officious, pedantic, little pr#@k. Just my luck to hit one of the rare, latter type on my first replacement bus trip. I armed myself with a scathing arsenal of comments, turned, took a deep breath and faced said pr#@k . . . only to realise he was grinning from ear to ear, "I've opened the back doors for ya 'luv, it'll be easier to carry it on that way." What a tease! What a sweetheart! Bosom and brows back where they should be, the whole journey proved a piece of cake.

DAHON D7 BOARDWALK:  A few thoughts about the Dahon. It has 7 gears, the derailleur shifts quite roughly (yes, even with adjustment), but, none of the gears slip and they seem to be a very useful ratio, easily managing the hills around work. The ride is surprisingly stiff, I was expecting to deal with a lot more flex. The little, bike frame seems quite 'stoic' by nature, being far more solid than I had dared hope. The small wheels provide a comfortable ride, although probably anything would seem so compared to my usual Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres. I have already had a puncture, which is a timely reminder of why I love the semi-solid Schwalbes so much! The pedals also fold, but, are cheap and plastic and a little slippery underfoot. I much prefer my sealed JC Odysseys with pins.

The fold is well thought out and easy to execute (with a bit of experience). There is a sturdiness to the fold joints when the bike is 'up' which is reassuring and stops you thinking anything is going to collapse on you. No, it doesn't fold as small as a Brompton, but then, I'm not someone who mistakes the word 'folding' for 'portable'. I wouldn't want to carry either model more than needed. It does have a cover (seen in the first photo) with a sturdy carry strap, which when not in use folds out of the way in the small saddlebag. The brakes are excellent, but then, I comparing them to the Surly's which are notorious for being the equivalent of holding your plimsoll against the tyre. The saddle seems pretty lightweight and flimsy compared to a Brooks, but, considering the more upright riding position, it's very comfortable for distances less than 15km (I haven't ridden it further and I'm not likely to).

Keeping in mind that it was a 6th the cost of the Surly LHT (when you consider modifications) it's pretty good value for money. If I was buying a folder as my only bike, which I wouldn't, then I would get a more expensive Dahon rather than modify the Boardwalk. However, I bought this model to use on a rail replacement bus for an urban commute 6-8 weekends a year. It might also be thrown in the back of a friends car maybe 2 or 3 times a year. For a bike that is going to be used, at most, once a month it is exactly the quality and price that I was looking for. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with this entry level, little folder.

P. S.  Oh, this is her ladyship. Called 'Briar', 4 years-old, and contrary to photographic evidence, butter would most certainly melt in her mouth!

Friday, September 9

Local Government Lateral Thinking

Even the Shire of Swan doesn't have limitless dosh (though I pay the same rates as my brother whose property is in a different shire, by the beach and worth at least double the value of mine - enough grumbling). So, when laying a bike path in a semi-rural area would mean widening the verge and moving the power lines, it would be understandable if the shire threw up it's hands in despair and mumbled about lack of funds.

But, dear, old Swan Shire has a 'make-do and mend' philosophy which has given me years of pleasant cycling on one of the quirkier bike paths close to home. It runs up into the Swan Valley and I'm eternally grateful for it's access to so much yummy food and plonk. Run a strip of bitumen around the crumbling, power poles, nail on a reflector and Bob's your uncle! With time, some of the poles have needed to be propped up or replaced (see above), and the tree roots definitely add a sense of micro-undulation to the ride, but, it's a stress-free, pleasant pottle all the same. I have only had one near miss with a pole. It was dark and I had been enthusiastically sampling the offerings of several German-style breweries as part of a friend's birthday celebrations. Hmm . . . 'nuff said.