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.