Monday, February 04, 2008

Bike Sydney

Sydney, city of beachesand beach cricketand the view from our friend's apartment.

We were warned that when it comes to bikes, Sydney is no Melbourne. "Bollocks," exlaimed P. Lynn Miller of CTA fame (Chainlink Transit Authority). Or he said something like that in an accent that perhaps could only come from an Australian immigrant originally from a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania. (Our apologies, Lynn. But by the end of the day, we seemed to have taken years off your Aussie accent.) Lynn came to our biking rescue!

I know Lynn, whom I had never met before, through this blog. We got in touch over 650B wheels. Or some bike trailer. We don’t remember who even wrote whom. In Australia, I wrote him when I remembered, "I do have a bike connection in Australia!"

Very generously, Lynn offered to pick us up, give us bikes, and take us around the city. Uh... OK. Thanks. It probably worked to our advantage that his wife and four kids were away for the week!

Here's an exclusive photo of the inner workings of CTA headquarters:

He delivered. As champion wheel builder and Aussie importer of Phil Wood hubs, he has some nice bikes. Most sport mixte frames, and they all have 650B wheels with fenders and, or course, Phil Wood hubs.

Lynn's got some deal worked out with the bulk item garbage pickup. It results in him getting tons of great Peugeot mixte frames. I swooned. Even though later I declined to take one home with me. French frames, despite making perhaps the ideal city bike, have their own standard for thread size. I'm scared to go there. But who else but the French makes beautiful mixte frames?

Lynn's a rebel and proudly flaunts the repressive helmet law! Rock on! Did I mention the weather was shitty? But the ride was great. It's definitely a good city to have a guide. There's no grid. And while it's not particularly bike friendly, if you know the back streets, you can avoid traffic very well. You also get major props from your local friends who don't realize how quick and easy it is to bike from one side of the city to another.

View from the Anzac bridge:
You see the word Anzac a lot down there. It stands for Australia and New Zealand Artillery Command, or something like that. It's also a tasty cookie. [Thanks to Tom for setting me straight in a comment about a few things. Not the least of which is that Anzac is the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.]

Coat hanger bike rack:

This is the most useful bike rack of all. Because you can attach it to any and all of the city's streetlights.
New York, take notice! I go blue in the face saying it, but we need more on-street bike parking. This is the answer.

Hiding from the rain (though that proved to be futile), we got coffee from a great coffee stand and I chatted with some messengers between runs (they know where the good coffee is). Of course, they all knew Lynn because Lynn builds bikes. I forget this guy's name (sorry), but I loved his "Stemnosaurus Rex" mascot!
The ride was outstanding. Afterward, Lynn gave us some dry clothes and we put our wet wearings into the dryer. “Want to go to pub for a $5 steak?” Lynn proposed. Absolutely. Wearing our ill-fitting shorts and t-shirts, we fit right into the pub dress code. When you hear pub, don't think cozy Irish pubs. These are brightly lit places with many rooms, one for "families," another for gambling machines, a third for off track betting, and a small kitchen with a cafeteria line. It turns out the “$5 steaks” actually cost $6 but taste like they’re $50 steaks. Grass-fed, thick, and perfectly cooked. Evidentially, good food is supported by the gambling proceeds. Everybody wins!

And I got to watch cricket. This is a sport I’ve always expected to like because people criticize it for the same reasons they criticize baseball, which I love. India was in the country for a test match. I was reading all about the controversy without understanding anything about the game. I was still struggling with the rules because my cricket fan friends never seem to understand how a few foreign terms can doom the whole process. Maybe it takes a Yank to teach a Yank, but I feel confident and I’m ready for my next test. Or maybe I’ll join the next sidewalk cricket game I see in Astoria.

Thanks, Lynn! Till we meet again...


tom said...

What can I say, that's how we roll. Sounds like a fun ride. Lynn does have the whole Peugeot thing sorted - they are great bikes.

It's the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, by the way. And most of us diggers downunder call beef fillets 'steaks', although 'stakes' are available next-door at the TAB (you know, the room for off-track betting).

Also, while the helmet law may be repressive, so are halo-thorasic braces...

PCM said...

They say everybody has a dirty secret. Mine is that I can't spell. But I can correct!

Thanks for all the other tips.

I do wear a helmet, usually. But I still don't like the law. Especially because it's never been shown to reduce bike fatalities. So much is said about bike helmets, you've probably heard it all...