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Wed, 06 Oct 2004

Solo Circulation - 23:49
This weekend the Mont Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race is being held here in Canberra. I am competing in the race as a Solo entrant this year. This means it is up to me whether I go fast, slow, rest, sleep, whatever during the race. My current plan is to simply circulate at a comfortable or easy pace for as long as I can and see what happens.

Tonight I had my friend Prue visit who will be supporting me during the race. Preparing food, mixing sports drink, handling charging of light batteries and various other Sundry tasks. Prue seems keen though somewhat intimidated once she realised the size of the event. With around 5000 people at the race site during the start on Saturday, 2176 riders competing in the race, 524 teams, almost 100 of which are solo entrants this is a big event.

Last year over 7,000 laps were completed of a 17 KM course, the distance ridden collectively was over 111,000 KM, or almost three times the circumference of the Earth. The course this year is 19KM to allow for the increase in team numbers from 440 to 520, the stats will go up a bit due to this.

I guess I am rambling to some extent because I do wonder what I have gotten myself into. This race is a lot of fun, I hope it is still fun, though knowing me I will still have fun, I simply tend to redefine my definition of the term fun from time to time.

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Hoping the timing works out - 23:41
So the new CFP closing date is 12th October. Once this closes the CFP committee have until the beginning of November to work through submissions. Then we have until mid November to decide on the preliminary program to the extent that we have filled spots to show people when registrations open on November 16. I am hoping working out this aspect of the programming is not going to be too arduous and the somewhat tight timing of all these events works out in the end. Of course it is likely good practice for us all to try and get stuff done quickly.

Other aspects of the program can still be varied, we are considering running some sessions until 6pm, or possibly some lighting talks or poster sessions while other sessions are on. Brad Hards has been thinking of a whole lot of different variations and the pros and cons for a long time now so it will be fun to see what we decide to do when the conference rolls around.

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More riding to work - 12:34
Returning to the discussion on commuting to work I have been having with Chris, I admit people who really enjoy cycling are those more likely to commute by bike, I still do suggest for many it would often be one of the more effective modes of transport available.

Chris commented that for most people it really would be slower by bike rather than car. As an example he suggested someone living in Belconnen and working in the Parliamentary triangle would be hard pressed to take longer by car for the commute to work. He is correct, however just to be sure I spoke with a cycling friend about it to get some figures. Julie Quinn I should admit is not entirely average, being a world champion in Rogaining and a multiple winner of of the Polaris Challenge and the Urban Polaris, among many other achievements. However Julie rides to work at a slow easy pace, the sort of pace mere mortals like the rest of us can maintain. Anyway the commute from Macquarie to the Parliamentary triangle takes Julie about 30 minutes at this easy pace. If she includes her shower and getting changed and settled at her desk it is 50 minutes from the door at home to sitting a the desk. Admittedly in Canberra traffic if it is not peak time, the drive to work is 15 or 20 minutes for Julie. Shower wise many people will need a shower in the morning anyway, so it may not be entirely fair to factor shower time into a bike commute time. Julie can probably do the commute to work in around 20 minutes bike bike if she really needs to. Just as I can commute from home to the Woden hospital by bike in 20 minutes if I really need to.

Anyway Canberra is a bit of a special case as we have light traffic, which makes bike riding more pleasant, however it also allows cars to get places faster and means there i not such a large parking penalty near work places. Due to this I got some feedback from friends in Sydney as to their commuting details. Again both of them are cyclists and it should be taken into account that they both love riding bicycles. John Stevenson works for Cyclingnews and has in the past 20 or 30 years worked for various bike magazines, and bike shops and other such places in the industry in Australia and the UK. Dave Hughes who I also asked for some data is also heavily into cycling and has done 24 hour races solo and other such things.

It will be easiest to simply quote what John and Dave said to me directly.

John Stevenson

My run is 26.5km. I've done 57:30, door to door for the inbound and a shade under an hour for the run home. Typically more like 1:05 each way. Interestingly as I have gotten fitter recently the difference has reduced, which says something about the effect of hills on commute times, as it's the homeward run that's gotten quicker.

Best case public transport is ride bike to Sutherland station, catch fast train, ride bike from Redfern to office: 50 minutes if I cut things *very* fine. Walk-train-walk is more like 1:15 so the bike clearly wins even when you take ten minutes at the office to shower and change.

I drive in very very seldom. 40-45 minutes door-to-door is going really well and not doable in peak hour, when it can take over an hour, factoring in finding somewhere to bloody park. And then there's the Repo Man[1] effect on my psyche...

[1] "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become"

Dave Hughes.

23 km bike, record 48 minutes, normally around 55 min. Call it an hour even by the time I lock up the bike and get to my desk. Shower happens after an hour or so of checking stuff.

2km walk to station, ~40 minute train, 5 min walk to office. Basically 1:00 to 1:05, depending on Shitty Rail. Need to have a shower before I go, so I tend to leave 10 minutes after I would on the bike.

Car - it's non peak, so if I could park in the building ($$$$$) it's about 25-30 minutes.

I've done it in peak hour, including a bus to the station. It doesn't save much time over walking to the station, by the time you wait for the bus etc. Bike tends to be ~5 minutes slower, at a guess (I'm fitter as well, but an hour was a pretty common time for me back then), and car is around 50 minutes plus parking, etc.


27km bike, more hills, record 1:01, normally 1:10 or so. Need to get changed at the office, so call it 1:15 door to door.

Train - crap time of day, so often end up waiting 20 minutes for the train. Generally somewhere around 1:10, often blowing out to 1:30. Downhill walk from the station, but it's still a walk... Also have to put up with the school kiddies on the train (ie, don't always get a seat, though it's rare not to).

Car - last time I did it by car it was around 55 minutes, I think. I did it by Taxi not that long ago, and it took about 1:00, thanks to Friday afternoon traffic.

If I get straight on a train, with a decent book, it's fairly relaxing. But I've rarely felt as good as I do when I bike. Cars are fun, but not in traffic. You've seen the photos to prove I'm a petrol head...

So yeah in Canberra lack of traffic can make the bike commute less effective, though I suspect more enjoyable due to not having to fight the traffic so much, and having many options to travel on bike paths or even off road to and from work. Sydney evens the times a bit between car and bike, and even with very good public transport it can be difficult time wise. In Sydney one technique that is fairly effective is riding from home to a train station, getting a train, and riding from the other end to the office. This gives a shorter time and part of the trip by bike. Canberra does not have effective public transport so that would never be an option.

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