Monday, 12 December 2011

Ye Old Timey Clothes

Apologies to my loyal reader things will be a little sporatic at the moment with posting. Please teddy bear with me.

Now we built the ordinary bicycle. Time to turn attention to the clothes. Now whilst Lycra is the clothing of choice for a number of cyclist who want to ride further than down to the shop I would like to consider what is appropriate for a bicycle from over 100 years ago.

I have quite a full wardrobe unfortunately as I've been reliably informed by numerous sources including stangers walking down the street they are so out of style that even the Amish would point and laugh at me while pulling on their beards.

Now the options as I see them
- Ask Brett to build the machines to build a DeLorean so I can get some original clothes.
- Break into a museum and borrow the clothes
- Ask my father (just kidding Dad)
Umm that's about it for options. So what is it exactly you wear if you ride a P-far.

Now this below is probably a little scary, for those of weak dispositions I suggest you turn away now. A very good reason why Lycra is frowned upon in the p-far fraternity.
 Yes after that sight you'll need some soothing eye balm that only action men can provide.
Ok now the urge to poke out your eyes has died back on topic.
Tweed is back so they tell me. There are a number of tweed rides around the place including Ipswich however I'm not a slightly built man so I figured finding tweed to fit could be problematic. So what to do what to do. I know the answer as always is at Lowes!
Now in the mid 90's I visited a shop that happened to be selling ex-formal wear. I thought wow clothes that others have left their DNA all over I gots to get me some of that action. So i bought a few items if memory serves me correct the total cost was around $8 for the shirt, tie, patent leather soled shoes, and cummerbund (not shown in this picture) and they threw in the DNA for no charge. The Lowes component was more expensive in fact the socks were $13! They now hold the title by far as the most expensive socks I own. Apparently the bus drivers complain if Lowes don't keep long socks in stock! And the award for the cheapest part of my outfit was the wedgie which I got for free. I do hope to improve on the outfit over time.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Big times in big wheel city

Greetings and salutations dear reader. This week heralded a huge week in p-far history in Brisbane the second annual Penny Farthing Stack and parade ride. This is a great opportunity to sit motionless on a bicycle for half an hour whilst keeping your balance fun hey? Well it was so there! It was such a big week I've created not one but two montages to celebrate the other major event a Penny Farthing group ride one of the rare opportunities you get to ride with other p-farofiles. Or what ever they are called.

So first up the stack. Essentially you hold the handlebars of the person next to you and they of yours and you become self supporting. It's kinda scary at first but you do get comfortable with it. It's also quite hard to fall over but I suppose theoretically possible there was lots of mentions of dominoes..... 

Then there was the parade ride into a ripping wind from first avenue to 19th avenue at Sandgate. The return trip was rather pleasant though and a fair bit faster.

The next day we had a social ride through the Boondall wetlands. I got an early Christmas present a Garmin Edge 200 which is perfect for Betty as I don't have to put a sensor on it as it uses GPS just like they would have used the stars for navigation in the 1800's :-) so I can now see how far and fast I ride and plot the route on a map so a lot of fun to be had. The Garmin Edge 200 is the baby of the family so is fairly basic but I *heart* it as the young people would say nowadays. You can see our ride here. I even got up to 21.3Mph on the flat road at Nudgee which was fun. It appears that it measured that ride in miles apparently when mounted to a Penny Farthing it screws the circuits back over 100 years. I could have gone faster if I had the kahunas. (apologies for the poor sound quality, thanks Janine for the extra action shots!)

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Welcome dear reader. This week we have a treat a quick game of Jeopardy.
Subject - P-fantastic
Question for $100 - This is a photo question. What is that? 

Answer: What is the most common question asked when riding a P-far.

Now I've been riding Betty around a bit I've really started getting used to it's peculiarities and the reactions of people. What I particularly enjoy is this scenario
  • riding past cyclists who try to look cool and not look at the unusual bike passing them
  • little knowing that i have a sunglasses mounted mirror so when I pass I watch them and often see them turn around to have another look. 
My first two rides on the path I spent more time explaining the bike and all about it than riding. Now I'm slightly more experienced I don't have to dismount every time I see someone coming the other way. I estimate I've ridden it about 12 times since 1 November the longest ride so far has been from Chermside to Nudgee Golf Course about 32kms. It feels more comfortable on the road as pedestrians and dogs unpredictability are a real hazard on the paths when you can't suddenly brake.

She's got Betty Davis Tyres. 

Getting ready to show the pansy's on their 'safety' bikes how an ordinary bicycle cranks around a crit track at Nundah. It turns out fairly slowly.

The half way mark where I stopped for some water and yet another I can't believe you are riding a Penny Farthing discussion.

One of my favourites a nice comparison the commuter and Betty side by side.

One of the things I haven't talked about is the brake. To get it to work I had to have some form of lever and a pivot point. Unfortunately I should have got it brazed on but instead I ended up making a bracket to go around the handlebar for the lever to pivot off.

It was a pain in the bum next time I'd get the metal brazed on. I do intend one day to get it done when I find someone to do it. 
The brake is really only useful for looks and to take off some speed on descents that's about it. Otherwise I don't really use it and most of the braking is done through slowing the pedals rotation down. This weekend is two big events in the Brisbane Penny Farthing enthusiasts

Penny Stack - Saturday 26 November 2011, 4pm.
Meet at the Rotunda in Sandgate for a Penny stack, followed by a parade ride along Flinders parade to 19th Avenue then back to  Sandgate for tea at Gloria Jeans. The venue has been exclusively booked for the Penny riders and family. Please advise attendance for catering. Last year there were 25 how many this year?

For those curious about a Penny Stack you'll have to come along or wait until next week for more.

Penny Ride - Sunday 27 November 2011 - 7am. 
Meet at the Sandgate Rotunda for a 35km ride through the Boondall wetlands to Nudgee beach and back. Followed by Breakfast at Sandgate. As this is road riding, Bicycle helmet laws apply.

Do your best to wear Period dress.

Never fear dear reader there will be another post about the dress oh yes there will! 

Monday, 14 November 2011


As promised dear reader I haven't abandoned you to the wilds of Al Gore's interweb I'm still here and planning on posting each week. This week we have a sensual sexual theme. Don't worry it's still rated PG and at risk of losing most of my readers I keep my clothes....on.

Today is a special day. I find out if I'm too sexy for my hat. You be the judge....
Blue steel...

Gratuitous ear shot.

In this case carefully.

Work it Betty!

To answer the question posed earlier visa vi the relationship between the relative sexiness of hat I come a distance second but Betty gives hat a good run for it's money. I'd say it's a tie. This awesome piece of work was primarily organised by Janine! Kudos to you Janine it's fricken awesome and anyone who disagrees is a safety bicycle riding nincompoop.

But I digress. I've been working on two special montages. I'm having some technical difficulties with one but here is one I've 'finished'* (*your definition of finished almost certainly will vary from mine) it's a big one but I feel it's worth the 3 minutes of your life watch it or it proves you hate baby hedgehogs. Everyone on the count of three 'ahhhh isn't that cute'

And now the video .... I'm sexy and I know it.....

 Higher quality one for those rolling in bandwidth (20mb)

Yeeeeaah this is how I roll my onesy out of control!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Rising up

Welcome gentle reader. The very first time I walked into the class room and saw the ordinary bicycle I remember thinking man this was bigger than I remembered it. It was after sitting down I nervously said to the class 'is anyone else here a bit scared of riding this bike' a few people nodded. Right I was in the right place then.

There are a few peculiarities to riding an ordinary bike that must be acknowledged
- the header is the most feared accident and was common in early days. As you essentially sit over the pivot point if you apply the brake to hard or hit something that stops the wheel over you go. (or in this case have someone try and over take you dangerously)
- Going downhill is much harder and scarier than going up
- You'd be lucky to turn an ordinary bike around on a two lane road
- When you turn the wheel your legs essentially rub against the wheel and stop the wheel turning too far.

Now we have some context and officially finished the formal classes almost all our bikes are able to be ridden it was time for a practice. I've been practicing riding up and down the driveway at home and down the flat part of the bike track near my house. This was the first time I've taken it out on the 'open road' or in reality riding around an industrial estate at Brendale. There were a couple of unexpected dismounts but overall everyone did very well. However this youtube video explains better than I can why letting someone else ride your bike needs to be carefully considered

La la la isn't this fun I'll follow on behind him so nothing can go wrong and give him instructions on how to ride it.  
He rode around safely for a while. Now time for the dismount.

I don't recall telling you to put both feet in the middle of both wheels 

He did get a sorry though.... They managed to pop it back into shape.
Friends don't let friends ride p-fars unless they are comfortable replacing it.  Reflecting on this I recently came across an animal that seems far better suited to riding a p-far than homo-sapiens.
He called them an extinct bicycle and rider. I guess that makes our beasts a kind of Jurassic Park of bicycles.

So without further adieu here is the photo montage from this weeks practice ride. (BTW it's 4mb or so but so worth it! Trust me I'm a p-far-ophile, I think I'm going to have to think of another term just quietly)

Yeah that's the stuff it was fantastic to see everyone get up on their bikes. I went and visited the full time class today they were rolling their rims ah the memories. I've still got a few things to finish on my bike such as the brake. I've got a functional brake but it's not that aesthetically pleasing. I'll leave that for another blog post.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Last class

Well folks we all knew this day would come, when the mother bird pushes the baby bird out of the nest and says 'tweet, tweeeeeet' (Translated to - Get out of my nest you onesy wearing strange bike building bludger) it's the last class. Whilst this is the last class it's certainly not the end of the journey. It's time to spread my wings and fly (not over the handlebars!)

I had a very busy weekend involving a lot of grinding and sanding and painting to take the bike from this.

To this
There are some slight improvements.
To celebrate the milestone of our last class the Genuine Woman Janine baked a cake bless her cotton socks.
First time I've ever seen a p-far cake! Janine and CJ have been the primary suppliers of sustenance for us hungry p-far builders thank you very much, also thanks to the others who brought food in. After three hours of filing you get a bit hungry and it kept morale up!

Thanks Brett for having the patience of a Saint to deal with the whiny questions from me I dub you Brett Patron Saint of P-fars. (you can add those to the other titles including king, sensei and countless others bestowed upon you during this course)

So this weeks class the bike was ridable but not finished I started work on the brake. I got the brake shoe mounted.
But you'll notice there is no brake lever. Some of the other class mates took the easy way out and got the pivot point brazed on.... but not me I decided it's the hard way or the high way (plus I had painted my handle bars already) so i set to make a clamp on mount that will work as the pivot point for the lever.

This clamps over the bar with one bolt holding it on tight and another being for the pivot. Now I need to get a bit of metal to use as the brake lever. So after dithering around most of the class it was time. Something I had been looking forward to but scared of was to bite the bitumen and ride the thing. It was super frightening but I'm so brave.
 YAAAAY Me! Lets big it up for ME! But thanks to CJ for encouraging me otherwise I'd have waited until the lesson this weekend where I'd learn to ride properly. Phew dodged that bullet.

So onto another important part of the p-far experience the bike naming. I've settled at the moment for Betty after Betty from Hey Dad and Black Betty. Somehow the lyrics resonated with me see if you can see why....

The damn thing gone wild (bam-A-lam) (when I almost ran into a parked car.)

She really gets me high (bam-BA-lam) (Apple picking high)

You know that's no lie (bam-BA-lam) (lies makes baby Jesus cry - Rod Flanders)

She's so rock steady (bam-BA-lam) (well built that bike at around 16kgs worth!)

She's always ready (bam-BA-lam) (for a jaunt)

whoa, black betty (bam-BA-lam) (Whoa was what I was thinking when i was going out of control down the slight slope)

So whilst we've reached a milestone there is still more in this journey I'm going to finish off the brake. Still going to get the badge installed and need to true the wheel in the frame. Actually learn how to ride the thing. So stay tuned dear reader.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Remedial class

This week is double the trouble with not one but two episodes. The first normal class on Monday night and the second remedial class for special people like me. No time for frivolity lets get straight into it... wait hang on a little shenanigans. How about a Rooke demonstrating the worlds only uni-farthing

Then we had Daryl turn up with one of the stranger sights you'd see in Brisbane a p-far on the back of a ute.

But lets have a little flash back
Starting all the way back to the weekend before the class....I spent a lot of time cleaning up the front forks. You thought they were done? Well not on your nelly they still needed a lick of paint and a bit of sanding and filing and filing and sanding and then a bit more sanding.

The undercoat on..

Episode 1 the P-Far Menace.
This class I was working on getting the backbone ready for brazing and also the seat clamp. Oh yeah we had to manufacture an artisan seat clamp. You take one bit of bent metal, braze on the inside clamp off the seat then bolt on using the outside clamp.

Simple eh? Then it was on to getting the backbone ready so first cut a place for the steering yoke, insert the rocket ship I made earlier and then braze it up. It was at this point I almost had a complete melt down. I cut the first notch out for the steering yoke put it in to test its position and had to re-cut the backbone shorter and the notch again. I put it together and it looked like it was too short and going to rub on the wheel. I almost lost it I was so upset but Brett came along shifted a few things around and got it sitting fantastic I was so happy I could have kissed him but he was somewhat reluctant...

Episode 2 - Attack of the P-Fars.
Now the special class the next night had a bigger turn out that I expected. I arrived to find that Brett had brazed the steering yoke, foot peg and rear forks on all ready for final assembly.
I have been asked if I did any of the building? Well I did a lot of it and helped other people as we all did but I left almost all the brazing to Brett. The critical nature of the joints and my adversion to serious injury from poor brazing made it a simple decision. I do intend to learn though!

I was super excited and thought that I'd be all assembled in half an hour just got to put the cranks, pedals and seat on and badda-bing it'd be all done. 2.5 hours later I realised it was going to take longer than 30 minutes. The seat clamp required additional grinding and work to shape it to fit then a lot of elbow grease to get it on the bike. Then the bearings needed some circlips to hold the bearings in place these clip in and around the bearings.

Then it was time for my friend the cranks and cotter pin conundrum. I hadn't touched this since around May. after the mysterious disappearance of good karma frog I've been loathe to touch the cranks but I couldn't put it off any further. With great trepidation I pushed the first cotter pin in... looked good... then came the second one.... codswallop! it wasn't working. After some additional trouble shooting and 5 different cotter pins and more work with my friend the file I got it in and looking reasonably even. Hooray!

So there you have it a technically ridable p-far. Now you might be wondering how I got it home? I tried to fit it in the back but the hole was too small for the wheel as I previously alluded to that might be the case. My elegant solution....

There is still a lot of work to do including grinding and sanding the back bone and painting it and the forks. I still also want to put a brake on, I'm yet to work out how I'm going to do that. Then the little matter of learning to ride it..... but don't worry I know exactly who is best placed to deal with that.... Future Aaron. Next week is our last class but don't worry the magic will keep on coming after that..

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Get forked

Yo wazzup lets get our forky on. This week is all about the forks. As per standard class protocols we observed some silliness. This weeks silliness was foreshadowed by the arrival of the seats. They came in several different sizes...

So we had to have practice sits on them
Ahh the serenity all we needed was a newspaper and we'd be right. Needless to say for some reason nobody wanted those seats after we'd sat on them?

My BFF Mr Snob has once again featured cutting edge p-far design
Further cementing p-fars into popular culture.

So onto the forks. Hopefully it's better than a fork in the eye and this song. (Viewer discretion advised, IE. I advise you don't watch this video with a guy singing about poor grammar and forks in the eye).

This week I cunningly convinced Brett that brazing my forks would be an awesome use of his time. So here you are from the very beginning 'Forks the Montage' If you see one montage about building forks for a p-far this year make it this one!

I'm gonna ride my bike until I get home... Peace out!