Some Bastard

Some bastard has stolen my bicycle away
So I on old Bribie no longer can play
I will wade round the beaches right up to my chest
To find out my bicycle, the one I love the best

And when I have found out my joy and delight
Whoever is riding it I’ll surely fight
For his ears shall be ringing and his head shall be thick
Once I give him a beating with my walking stick

Here’s a health to all riders that are loyal and just
Here’s confusion to the rider that lives in distrust
For I’m telling you now that when I catch that prick
I shall give him such a beating with my walking stick.

Trad Arr! ARF!

Yes. Some prick stole my bike.

Special Points to anyone who knows the tune for this song.

https://youtu.be/n-tRqcow10k


https://youtu.be/vFVdxOy42JA

No, Really.

True story.

I was in the economy shop to buy a device for picking things up, and a lumbar support, I knew I’d find them there at a fraction of the price at a pharmacy. I was not wrong.

I found the picky uppy thingy, which I usually refer to as a gotcha. As I took it from the shelf, I dropped it. I said aloud to myself. “Great. Now I’ll have to buy two”.

A woman standing behind me broke into a fit of giggles as she bent down to pick it up for me. The giggles redoubled when she saw I had already selected another one, and then I tucked both that, and the one she handed me, under my arm.

I thanked her sincerely for the assistance, and for the amusement, which brightened what was threatening to be a bleak day in more ways than the weather.

I had just come from a visit to, of all people, a podiatrist. My health care planner had thought maybe one could help me with my back/leg problem, seeing that I could no longer wear shoes with heels.

I met with him at 08:45. I apprised him of my current condition, and told him it seems to be getting worse lately, despite the walking, cycling and swimming. He listened. He asked a few pertinent questions, mostly about when the pain was worse, what activities made it flare up. He examined my posture.

At last he told me he did not believe that as a podiatrist, there was much he could do for me except provide a little arch support, which he promptly affixed to the jandals (thongs, flip-flops) I was wearing, after I told him they were what I wore most of the time. It may or may not help. He was not hopeful.

However, speaking not in his professional capacity, but as a person still recovering from a broken back, he felt he should pass on the information he had received from the surgeons and spinal specialists who had treated him.

What it amounted to was that riding a bicycle is not a good thing to be doing. Swimming and exercising in water is. So is losing weight. The first I had already begun to suspect. The latter two I already knew. When I mentioned having recently bought a boat, his look of dismay told me all I needed to know. He advised me to get a seat with suspension fitted. He also told me to get a lumbar support for when I sit, and gotchas for picking things up.

So I headed out into the rainy weather with an outlook bleak indeed. The bike had not been a good idea at all. Maybe the boat also. Though that yet remains to be seen. However, no matter how I looked at it i thought perhaps I had not been making sensible decisions lately. Most of my not-good ideas were costly. Either financially or in other ways. For example, my decision to work in the Kimberley had broken my heart, and my spirit, for a time , and did no good to the rest of me.

I tried to think back to the last time I could say I had chosen to do something that had really worked out well.

By the time I got to the economy shop I had progressively thought all the way back to 2009, and my decision to take that well-paid job in Fiji, without having identified anything positive at all. The black dog was circling me, ready to lunge.

Then I dropped the gotchas, talked to myself, and made someone laugh. That made me smile. I headed for the pool and swam in the rain. Swimming is Good.

I swam an extra half hour to make up for the cycling I’m not doing. I also solved the problem of water infiltrating my earplugs as I swam. The rubber bits that go into my ear canal are left and right handed. Somehow I had transposed them after washing them. Something I could have sworn I had taken great care not to do each time. I should have realised straight away.

Dave. My mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it.

I shall continue to use the bike, for short trips to the local shops and for transporting my washing to and from the laundry, but I’ll not be pedalling so much.

FOOTNOTE

By shear coincidence, just after writing about how I talk to myself, I came upon this article.

Which led me to this one. Until now I thought I was in the minority, on the spectrum of schizophrenia.

One Forward, Two Back

I’ve been driving the cruiser to the pool the last few days. I did not think I could pedal the bike. Today I thought I could and set off with a light heart and a cheerful smile.

I think I can, I think I can… i did. I thought I could.

By the time I arrived at the pool I was twinging a bit. 95 minutes of swimming followed, accompanied by Vivaldi, Gershwin, Altan, Paul Brady, Steeleye Span and Pink. Music makes it easy. That little MP3 player is worth its weight in niobium. Even if I have to stop periodically to blow into the earplugs and reseat them in my ear canal after water infiltrates and muffles the music.

When I emerged from the pool, however, I could barely walk. A reviving cappuccino and a hot shower did not help at all, then off to Aldi for fresh vegetables. Once on the bike I found I could not pedal at all. My calves and thighs were the problem, not my knees. Movement was excruciating. So I dangled my legs, switched to medium assist, and flicked on the accelerator. The bike did all the work. At Aldi I limped around leaning on a trolley and bought a cauli, some baby carrots and half a butternut. And a key lime pie. I deserve it.

By the time I got home the battery was down to 25%. And I found I could not get off the bike. I felt like a helpless old cripple. In the end I dismounted by undertaking a controlled fall while hanging on to the support strut of the awning. I’ll pick the bike up later. I only just got inside with the groceries. Coffee and painkillers. Maybe a nap next until they kick in. Brunch can wait. The key lime pie is thawing on the bench. I couldn’t bend over to put it in the fridge. It’s times like this I get nervous. I’m only 68 for fuck’s sake.

Lend Me Ten Pounds, and I’ll Buy You a Drink.

There is a gentleman I pass quite regularly on my cycle ride to the pool who appears to be picking herbs from the grass on the roadside. I’ve often wanted to stop and ask what he is collecting. I almost did so this morning, but it occurred to me he may be collecting cigarette butts discarded by people using the path. I am probably wrong. He is there so often, I doubt there would be that many butts for him to pick up by now. Nevertheless the thought was enough to deter me from stopping and asking. He might be embarrassed.

Whenever something like that happens I get the feeling I am losing an opportunity to hear an interesting story. Is he picking penny royal to make a decoction to induce abortion? is there some psychotropic weed growing here that no one other than he knows of? Is he a harmless nut herbalist, or a derelict with no money for fags? Is it any of my business?

Almost as if to answer the psychotropic theory, I next came upon a much younger man who appeared to have dropped a plastic carrier bag of possessions and was bending over to retrieve them. I was about to stop to help, until I heard what he was saying, or rather the language he was using, and his tone. It was a loud, angry, incoherent rant full of effing and blinding and the colourful C word. He seemed to be referring to one C in particular, up which he proposed to insert various objects. Whoever he was talking to was not visible to me.

Nor, it seems, was I visible to him. I pedalled by on my bike with its bright yellow trailer sporting a pirate flag on its mast. His rant at the invisible person beside him did not change at all as I rode through his line of gaze. I have seen those crazed, dilated-pupil red-rimmed stares before. Not weed. Ice. Move on. Quickly. Before those eyes focus.

The clear water of the pool was warm. It did not feel particularly refreshing. The only energy burnt there today would be in propulsion, not in maintaining body temperature. It was so warm I wondered if I was sweating as I swam. How can one tell?

The MP3 player gave me a particularly good choice of random music today. My 90 minutes of laps passed very quickly. A bit of Zydeco, Sinead O’Connor, Pink Floyd, and Afro-Celt Sound System. I managed to keep up a vigorous stroke rhythm most of the time except during the more languid sound of O’Connor’s Danny Boy. Not my favourite version, nor my favourite of her recordings.

An estimated 4,740 kJ burnt, I had a cold shower and shampoo. Then, after a quick visit to Aldi for salad vegetables, I headed home, pedalling into a freshening breeze from the NNE. Practicing my long neglected nautical assessment skills, I estimated the wind to be between 18 and twenty knots, and bringing rain.

I checked my apps when I got home. 20 knots, NNE. And the radar showed approaching storms. The rain and lightning began within half an hour. It hasn’t changed the heat or humidity.

It still hurts when I pedal. More when I walk. The exercise is not helping, and may even be making things worse. I can’t keep increasing my painkillers. I need a new strategy.

On a completely different note, Richard in Quebec may be interested to hear I have been told there has been a rare (for Bribie) sighting of a small flock of Oriental cuckoos down at Buckley’s Hole. If the weather and my legs permit, I may toddle off down there tomorrow to see what I can see.

Sunrise Over Moreton Island

After my evening meal yesterday I thought I’d take a little nap. I was asleep in an instant. I didn’t wake until half past midnight. Wide awake and full of beans. I worked a little on one of my craft hobby projects that have gone unattended for some time.

At 04:30 I was really hungry so I had an early breakfast. Feeling more spry than I have for a while I then took the bike to the beach and watched the sunrise. Not a particularly photogenic one, but all the same it was most pleasant to listen to the surf and the birds in the early light.

The tide was halfway out. It would be low at 08:15. There was enough hard sand exposed for a morning ride along the beach. So I rode down the wheelchair access mat and through just a bit of soft sand then along the beach for a few km. What a great way to start the day. I was not the first. Someone had already set out in a 4WD. I passed an elderly couple who had already walked a couple of km, and a man fishing.

Good Customer Relations

This exchange shows how good customer relations works. The company was prepared to replace an expensive unit because of the failure of a small component. My problem with this was that the replacement part was likely to fail in the exact same manner if I continued to use the bike in the same way. I thought I had a better solution. It turned out well, and it also turns out, I suppose, that I am a good customer to have relations with.

Anyway. Apart from replacing the saddle with a more comfortable one to suit my fat arse, and this little issue below, the bike has been excellent, and the service from the company exemplary.

I love my bike, so Leitner deserve a plug on my blog. I hope both my readers buy one.

Read the emails from the bottom up.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your message.

I’m not sure if or when we will make Leitner stubby holders, but if we do, there will be one with your name on it!

Thanks again and we hope that this resolution holds up and please let us know if you have any issues.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Leitner team!

Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes


On Sat, Dec 14, 2019 at 8:50 AM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Once I pulled the old rubber out, I could see it was more to protect me from being pinched by the spring than to protect the spring itself. Incidentally, the rubber was very brittle. It tore very easily and clearly does not like the Queensland sunshine. My fix seems to work fine. I cut down a neoprene wetsuit material stubbie holder and glued and taped it into a cylinder just tight enough to cover the piston. I clamped it one end only with a strong cable tie then ran a bit more Gorilla Tape around it. I’ve been out for a few rides, and hit some speed bumps at a good lick. It is all holding together. I’m satisfied.

So, if you ever produce a Leitner stubby holder, you owe me one!

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Alan

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 13:47, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your message.

We look forward to your modification. Hopefully, it will work and will be great. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.

Have a lovely weekend ahead Alan!

Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Kitty
Leitner eBikes


On Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 2:36 PM Alan Freshwater

> wrote:

Cheers Kitty. I will try out my clever idea and let you know how it went. I’ll even send a photo if it turns out as brilliantly as I hope.


Have a nice one.

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 08:13, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your message.


From our knowledge, the rubber is used to protect the inner springs and there is not structural function of the rubber cover. If you have an idea of replacing this cover with another more durable material and is comfortable doing so, let us know how you go. If you have any questions or trouble, feel free to let us know. We are happy to assist until this is resolved.


Thank you for your patience and effort in working through this with us. We look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Kitty
Leitner eBikes


On Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 4:43 PM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Thanks again Alex. I appreciate your consideration. Before we go to the inconvenience and cost of replacement of the whole fitting I’d like to ask again how essential is this rubber boot to the continued operation of the bike? I’ve already thought of a repair I could easily undertake using neoprene material as used in wet suits. If the design is just to keep out dust and water with a flexible cover, I’m betting I can make a repair as good as the original with a more durable material. Which I happen to have on hand. My only concern is whether this part as fitted has some other important purpose that may affect the safety or functionality of the bike. If it is just a flexible dust cover I can sort it easily.


CheeRs


Alan

On Thu, 12 Dec 2019 at 2:24 pm, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Hi Alan,


Thanks for your reply and for the additional information. We are glad to hear that you are getting plenty of use out the bike!


This is very strange and is definitely the first we have heard of this happening. We are happy to cover this under warranty, but please note this would be a once-off coverage as it appears to likely be a result of prolonged exposure to the sun/heat and not necessarily manufacturing fault. While we understand that you have always placed it under the shade where possible, we would recommend that you continue to do this. Also, another option could be a bike cover or a tarp to place over the bike if it will be exposed to high levels of heat.


So that we can raise a warranty claim, could you please provide us with some photos showing the serial number of the bike (located above the front forks engraved around the frame). You may need to take two photos to cover the whole number.


In addition, could you please provide your preferred shipping address to have the replacement sent out to.


Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes


On Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 6:46 PM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Hi Alex


I’ve been riding my bike to the pool every day for 5 or 6 days a week and locking it on the bike rack with the side that has perished towards the sun. That’s the only time it is exposed for any length of time except when I’m riding. When I go shopping I find shade. I usually swim for 90 minutes at a time. That and the cycling has helped me lose a heap of weight.
But I digress. I noticed the deterioration last week but I forgot to follow up with you until this morning, I assume that daily exposure is the cause.
Cheers
Alan

On Wed, 11 Dec 2019 at 12:19, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Hi Alan,


Thanks for your message.


Usually with this part, we would just replace the entire rear suspension as we do not typically stock the individual rubber part.


So we can have a bit of a further look into this, do you mind telling us how this happened?


Did it occur while riding? or did you just notice that it had started to peel after a while?


Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes

https://www.leitner.com.au/

https://www.productreview.com.au/b/leitner

https://www.facebook.com/LeitnerDirect



On Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 11:54 AM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

As you can see from the attached photo the rubber cover on the suspension shock absorber is deteriorating badly. How important is it for protecting the bike and can I replace it myself? Are you able to supply a new one?
Best regards


Alan



Thank the Kraaken for Kodiene

Yesterday was overcast, and relatively cool until the storm broke later that night. I made significant progress on the list I compiled two days ago. I then went on the bike to deliver outsize trousers and shirts to the hospice op shop in Bongaree. After that I extended the ride, exploring further around the poncy canal-side suburbs until I noticed my battery was going flat. I had forgotten to charge it after my last ride. I hadn’t plugged it in after the ride because I thought it might rain, and even though it is undercover, water flows through my area. Evidently I didn’t plug it in at all, even after the rain didn’t eventuate.

Pedalling home became increasingly strenuous, made worse by a fresh on-shore headwind. At least I got some exercise, but this morning I awoke in severe pain. I could not ride. I took the cruiser to the ATM and coin dispenser for dollar coins for my next laundry loads. Then to Aldi for fresh vegetables. By the time I returned to the car I was in severe pain. It’s not my knees, but my thighs and calves so I know it is my spine that is the cause. Just climbing into the car brought tears to my eyes. I needed Codeine. I hoped I still had some in my medicine drawer.

I did. Four left of twenty prescribed by Mehdi on 14/12/2018. Almost exactly a year ago. Mental note to request more next visit.

Not much else is going to happen today. I hurt.

Riding in the Dark

This evening, to shake off a sudden mood, I took the bicycle for a ride. A better alternative to eating something. The headlight on the bike seems bright, but it is more for being seen than for seeing by. The paths on Bribie are shared.by cyclists and pedestrians. Only the bravest, hardiest cyclists use the roads by choice. Box drivers have little consideration for cyclists. Several times on the road I have not been given the right of way that is my due.

So it is particularly gratifying that Moreton Bay Council have provided such wide, well-made paths. Better still, they are not laid out in straight lines along the roadside, but meander in sweeping curves around trees through park-like reserves. Riding them at night with what seems suddenly a very dim light, is a whole new experience. I rode south along the beach front into an area I hadn’t visited before by bike. The path took me far away from the road and any streetlights. The cool breeze from the sea blew the dull thoughts away and eased the ache pulsing in the rear of my head, just behind the right ear. Bats, frogs and night birds squabbled and called from the trees.

After a while I had no idea where I was, but I didn’t mind. Though the panel LEDs were telling me the battery was down to half charge. I had not plugged it in when I returned from the pool. I had taken an extended ride then, too, up to the mall where I bought a cake and dropped in on the way back for the pool staff. I told them it was to celebrate my twenty first. Kilogram.

I also bought myself a tiny little single serve Christmas cake, some nougat and some Turkish Delight to put aside for December 25. Christmas Day will be a calorie amnesty.

But I digress. Back to pedalling. I knew if I followed the road I’d end up somewhere I recognised. So it proved. I’d travelled further than I thought, but i was now back on the route I travel every day. It was a pleasant diverting ride. I was home again before the panel LEDs dimmed any further.

I’m going to ride more often after dark.

Noddy Has A Very Busy Day and Makes a Decision.

Senior moment today. Fully aware that I had an appointment with the GP in Woodford at 11:15 I hurried off for my morning swim at 07:30. I was in the water well before 8 and swimming to the accompaniment of Mozart, Beethoven, Dire Straits, Ultravox, Pink Floyd, Clannad, Steeleye Span et al.

Ninety minutes passed quickly and just as I planned, I emerged from the pool at 09:30 for a shower before driving the 50 minute commute to Woodford. I like to always allow a little extra time. It is a habit you learn in the outback, where a four hour drive can sometimes end up taking a couple of days.

Except without even thinking about it, I had ridden the bike to the pool. Now I had to ride back to base camp to get the cruiser.

Today I found out how the bike performs on full assist. Really well.

I arrived in Woodford, without breaking the law, in plenty of time for my appointment, which was all about the latest blood and pee test results which are encouraging. I took the opportunity to raise the subject of my knees, now that the weight was coming down. Mehdi prodded and pushed, and wrote a referral for x-rays.

Three weeks ago he had checked me all over for melanomas. All clear. Today as I was about to leave, he pounced on a new spot on my forearm and examined it with his super magnifier. Not good. Worried frown. He took a photo with an attachment on his iPhone and showed me what it was about the spot that concerned him. He told me to make an appointment ASAP to have it excised. I go back on Monday.

A couple of hours later I was being x-rayed by a cheerful and chatty young radiographer at Caboolture Hospital. After a few poses and buzzing sounds, she pronounced that the images had come out perfectly,

Then, looking at the images, she said sympathetically, “I bet they hurt”.

I told her they do. Then added “You know, I used to go out with a radiographer”.

“Did you really?” She said.

“Yes, but she saw right through me from the start”.

“How long have you been sitting on that one?” She said, laughing.

“I composed it just then, for you”.

Next stop the Department of Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre Caboolture. I’ve been here in Queensland over a year now, and several times at road checks when queried about my WA drivers licence and how long have I been in Queensland, I’ve told the police I am passing through, hanging around only for medical reasons. I have already stayed over the legal time for using an out of state licence. The time has come to acknowledge I am not up to the Grey Nomad life in my current state. I won’t be moving on soon. Maybe I shall in the future, but for now, I’m probably in the best place I can be. Where I am. A very Zen thought.

The nice lady at the Customer Service Centre gave me a form for my doctor to sign, and checked the forms of ID I carry. She pronounced them satisfactory. All can be sorted once I return with the signed form.

So out of practical necessity I’ve made a decision. I’m staying here. I shall join a bowls club or some such for a social life, cheap meals and meat pack raffles, and see about a dinghy to fish from.

Testimony

E-mountain bikes may enable newcomers to gain fitness on daunting hills or snowy trails.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/well/move/mountain-biking-cycling-ebike-fitness-health-electronic-assist.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Or on bush tracks. That seems to accord with my experience so far.