A Few Spokes Loose

I think this blog has probably run it’s unproductive course. I’ve created a new site that centres on myself as a cyclist, this blog is called A Few Spokes Loose in reflection of my cycling obsession. I may update this site for some purposes but I’ll be spending more time over there (not that I spent much here).

2017 MARS Cycling Australia Road National Cycling Championships

   So a blog update, as always is very overdue. Here’s a report I’ve been sharing around from my experience at the Australian National Championships.

Last week I travelled to Ballarat for the most significant event of my short cycling career, the Australian National Championships. An ambitious first hit out for the Oral 7 GDT racing team. It would be a week of many lessons, my first lesson was that red eye flights are evil, with my flight leaving late on a Monday night and arriving around 6am AEDST. The next lesson was that it pays to check the destination weather when travelling a few thousand kilometres as I arrived in shorts and a shirt in 12 degrees with a threat of rain.

One van rental later and a quick reunion between the two halves of the Oral 7 GDT team (Matt and I had caught the same flight, Jordan and Ryan beat us by a week) and we were on the road for Ballarat. Sleep deprived and hungry like only cyclists can be, one of the 6 Mcdonald’s on the highway proved irresistible. Coffee rated 8.5/10 – naturally bumped up a couple of points by being awake for 24 hours at that point.

First point of business on arrival was assembling two bikes. I never did do the math but I think we increased the value of the rented house, bringing 9 bikes for 7 cyclists to the garage. A quick spin in the legs and everyone’s nerves were starting to unwind again. The fatigue melted away and we could have a laugh. We rolled out to Buninyong to survey the road race course, I’d later get a lift back with the TT bike to recon the 40.9km TT course. I’m really glad that I didn’t use this as my only recon as the conditions lied to me, with a headwind outbound leg and a tailwind return.

Bike storage

The bunch hits Buninyong, this is the finishing straight of the National Road Race

If you’re really invested in a time trial performance, recon is crucial. Understanding the nuance of the gradients and surface conditions as well as the probable winds are critical to pacing strategy. I returned on Wednesday for a second recon and some activation efforts and found that the wind had completely swapped directions from the day prior and that this was the forecast for the race on Thursday. While I was grateful to rehearse in the right conditions, I wasn’t exceptionally keen on 20km uphill into a headwind! Fortunately I was able to fight through it in time to see Matt and Ryan compete in the criterium championship which made for spectacular viewing.

Thursday arrives, lazy wake up and a familiar breakfast then the waiting game. My time slot is 2.22 so there’s plenty of time to fret, I’ve already made an effort to ensure I have everything ready to immediately proceed to the course. Now’s the time for thanks: Paul Chambers, Steve Pieterson and Gordon Hindley worked their butts off for us during the week. I owe them all a beer and thanks. Paul helped me load up the car with both bikes and got me out to Buninyong with plenty of time for me to accidentally waste while confusing myself.

Things seemed to unfold in a beautifully controlled chaos from here. I was originally going to warm up on the TT bike on a trainer borrowed from WAIS but it couldn’t be found. So that became a warmup on Mt Buninyong on the road bike, for which I initially tried to start on sneakers. The warmup worked out spot on nonetheless, I returned and grabbed a radio and proceeded to bike check expecting some arguments about my height and bike fit but mercifully I walked straight through. All up, I was in a good headspace but nervous.

Before I knew it, I was standing on the start ramp, nervously fiddling with my visor and Garmin trying to absorb the minute until go time. The starter was a little looser on the hold than I’ve had in the past, the seconds ticked down from ten to launch; I edged a bit closer than I’d like to the side of the ramp on take off but did make it successfully down the first obstacle.

Godon took the passenger seat of a support vehicle piloted by Steve. It was reassuring to have a spare bike zipping along behind me and a whole new world to have radio support. Gordon kept a steady stream of positional advice, course info and encouragement coming to me. It felt a lot less lonesome and 100% more honest knowing I couldn’t slack off for fear of being caught. The course was exceptionally fast on the way out, tending downhill on a tail wind. Getting to the turn around would not be a problem and I passed a couple of DNFs as well as another rider on first leg while averaging 47.2km/h.

The “easy” ride out would not last and was only to provide a false sense of security for the horror of the return run. It’s a 35 degree day and I’m wearing a long sleeve skinsuit with a space helmet, the slower return not only means less airflow, especially uphill but more time exposed to this.  For some perspective on the heat from the road, Nick Squillari had an unfortunate stack at 18.5km from hitting a patch of tar at the turn off. The toll of the heat and exertion really started to  be felt by about 30km in, feet burning, throat scorched from air intake and my head feeling like it’s in an oven. This also roughly coincided with me throwing my chain on a downshift, not an ideal situation when going uphill into a headwind but the mechanical gods took pity on me and permitted me to tease the chain back on with a bit of shifter tension and careful pedalling while i still had momentum.

At 35km in I was struck by some severe cramping in my left leg and I almost fell over for the third time in the race (I don’t want to talk about the first…). Again, uphill, it was a struggle to pedal enough to remain upright but I managed to keep moving and work through it. After a couple of kilometres I was able to get back on top of the gear and keep some good pace towards the finish line. That is, until the final rise. Never has such a small hill hurt so much before, it’s an utter act of cruelty by the organisers to have this final lump ~200m from the finish line. I commend them for that. As I came over the final hill and down the straight I pushed my heart rate through towards it’s max, mostly to finish with as much style as possible before keeling over. When I crossed the line I was in third place which felt amazing, despite already being fully aware of how short lived it would be. I would eventually slip back to 16th place which I’m still very happy with as a first outing to the national championships.

Post finish line collapse, courtesy of @ogaram via Instagram

194bpm HR face

Videos and Ramblings

Unsurprisingly, yet again it’s been an age since I’ve posted anything. Since my lasr post I’ve competed in last year’s target race the Tour of Margaret River, raced a number of criteriums with varying levels of success, travelled to Adelaide for a wonderful week of cycling and stalking the Tour own Under and unforunately suffered several crashes.

My last crash was On Wednesday, as a result I’m holed up on bed rest with my leg in a splint so I thought I’d check out some of the action cam footage I’ve been hoarding for an age. I’ve got a couple of videos from my time in Adelaide ready to go, I’m going to work on more and put fingers to keys on writing up some of my experiences.

Here’s some footage of an ascent up Adelaide’s Mt Lofty via the Old Freeway, quite a stunning climb (at least from my Perthite perspective)

On my second day I encountered a poor chap with a front puncture on a descent, video title says it

More footage and fleshed out anecdotes to come, provided I actually “get off my arse” while remaining firmly planted on it.

You deserve to die

“You deserve to die”

Those were the words from the toothy, beer-gutted man from the safety of his two tonne 4WD. Surely I had committed a grievous transgression to warrant these words. I pondered to myself what it could be. That morning I’d left home for work at 5:25am, travelled 3km to this point and not encountered a single car. Until now. I had my bright lights on, I was wearing a helmet and obeying all laws. In fact I was stationary at the time this happened.

The man in his four wheeled cage had pulled up next to me at the traffic lights, straddling a lane marker to squeeze in intimidatingly close to my side. He’d waited until the light change to roll down his window and drop his knowledge on me, followed by something unintelligible. He then accelerated and cut across my path.

It’s mighty harsh to deem someone worthy of death, and I wouldn’t condemn this man to an early one. It seems though that he’s probably destined for one, being unfit and full of anger. I’m going to keep to riding instead, despite it being a crime worthy of death to some.

Race Report – Pinjarra Classic 2014

21/09/2014 was not the greatest day for a race, it was shall we say a bit moist in Pinjarra:


Nasty weather meant some fair delays in prep and warmup, as a result I was only able to get in 1 kilometre before marshalling for the start. The start was into the rain. Bitching could be heard from those running full carbon wheels that they’d have no brakes, at least you barely need them in a race. The start was sedate, likely everyone without rollers or a trainer was getting their warmup in during the first 5km. An early breakaway of 8 formed within the first 10km while I was napping at the back of the bunch. No use crying over spilled milk, I resolved to attack on the days biggest climb with encouragement from Pete.

After a few small rollers I see what I figure to be the base of the hill at about 15km in. I positioned myself about 6 back from the front of the bunch, waited until we hit the ramp and then after about 20m I dug in and broke off around the right of the pack. I hunched low and far forward, settling into a climbing rhythm after I’d established a gap, 5 minutes of hard work later I’d consolidated and I was happy with my solo breakaway. Not long after the big tragedy of the day would strike, my glasses fell off and I quickly decided to abandon them to hold my break. Little did I know what a hazard and pain that would become (folks, you need glasses in the rain!).

So my attack had stuck and I managed to pass the KOM point solo with plenty of room to spare, although I was passed by Michael Vreeken of KD Cycles on his own strong solo attack. Things started to flatten out then meander downhill and the group behind me became motivated and organised, chasing me down after about 20 or so minutes off the front. In the end I was happy to be bridged back in as I had only caught sparing glances of the motivated breakaway ahead and had failed to make my own bridge. It steeled me to see a bunch of my team mates lead the bridge and order me to take a rest. The result of the attack and chase was that about 15 people had been dropped over the climb, it could have only been better if I’d made it over to the breakaway. After a quick breather at the back of the bunch, we rallied and started rolling through to bridge the breakaway and rounded up Vreeken.

We caught the breakaway somewhere around the 30km mark and after an awkward pass on a four wheel drive that was following them, I bridged in. Now we’d find they’d become a group of 6, Alex Vukovich and Thomas Bruins having attacked them and broken away as a pair and weren’t even in sight. Everyone gets motivated and starts taking turns to catch the guys off the front. Soon the road would turn down proper for the descent and I’d discover why I shouldn’t have abandoned my glasses.

We turn into the wind and downhill, reaching up to about 70km/h, moving in formation. The rain, wind and tyre spray is absolutely battering me. My eyes are in pain and visibility is near non-existent. I would come to the point where I was almost physically unable to open my eyes 5mm to get a peak up ahead, my fear goes through the roof and I death grip my bars; struggling to convince myself I can manoeuvre with any level of safety under these conditions. Just short of concluding it might be fatally stupid to continue, I realised that while not ideal, I could see enough to move safely if I tilted me head down. I was able to keep contact with the group until the pace dropped and I could see better.

The final 20-30km of the 69km classic would see numerous attacks, counters and foxing. The turnaround point for the final leg in to Pinjarra swung is into a crosswind which predictably resulted in a bunch of guys taking digs at breaking away. They were all reeled back in. Myself and Michael took a crack at a two man breakaway in the last 4km, we got 1.5km before being hauled back in. By now the pace had really heated up over the final 10km with most of the bunch seemingly determined on forcing a sprint. I settle and catch my breath, holding a few wheels back and defending my bunch position so that I can contend. As soon as we passed the 500m mark, a couple of simultaneous attacks and quick counters go off the front. I grab a wheel to tow me forward. I lose the wheel as a few get away, someone from Avanti grabs mine and I have my own personal battle with Michael.

I'm the jolly green giant up front.

I’m the jolly green giant up front.

Froome'n it

I dropped the guy from Avanti and Matt from SPR grabbed my wheel for a launch for the line. As Alex and TB had stayed away, we’re sprinting for third and Matt managed to pull 4th, 9 hundredths of a second behind Nick Lawler. I manage 9/38 finishers. I’m pretty happy with this result for my second outing in B grade on a day where I wasted a lot of energy and endured blinding by the elements.


Crossing the line

New beginnings v2

This blog has been utterly neglected. Not that it was ever nurtured in the first place. I’ve felt the sudden need to tidy it up as I have my brain in the last couple of years, its time to use this for the outlet of expression it deserves to be. Rather than the bastard child that occasionally gets to see sunlight on his birthday. To that end:

– I’ve removed a bunch of posts that are old and embarrassing
– This blog is changing direction, I no longer have the passion for technology that I once did. It’s now my profession more than my hobby
– Expect more random ramblings
– Hopefully I’ll still come up with the occasional helpful insight
– Prepare for bicycle posts!

Using NUT (Network UPS Tools) With Powershield Defender 1200

Again it’s been a loooong time since I’ve posted anything. Here’s a guide to how I got my Powershield Defender 1200 up and running using NUT under Debian. This is a cheap and lightweight (software wise, UPSes weigh a ton) solution for power protection of a home or small business server.

Installing NUT:

This part is dead simple, the NUT packages are already in the Debian repos so:

sudo apt-get install nut

This will install all NUT components and it’s dependencies. It does most of the hardwork for you, you just need to modify configuration files to your needs.

Modifying configuration files:

There are several configuration files that need to be modified in order to get a functional install; nut.conf, ups.conf, upsd.users and upsmon.conf. You can use the locate command that’s pre-installed on most systems to find them, the following is from my Debian box but your paths may be different:

$ locate nut.conf ups.conf upsmon.conf upsd.users

Use the text editor of your choice to open and modify the configuration files, I use nano. The nut.conf file is a dead simple modification just to set how the UPS is connected, I’m only using it directly connected so I added “MODE=standalone” to the end of the nut.conf file (ensure it’s not commented out with a “#” at the start of the line). Other modes are described in the conf file but most would use the same as me. You then need to add a definition for the UPS and it’s driver to ups.conf, mine is the below:

[defender1200] #A name to refer to your UPS, you can put whatever you like here but something descriptive and easy to type will make it easier to run commands
driver = blazer_usb #USB driver module compatible with Powershield Defender series UPS
port = auto #Typical setting for USB based UPS
desc = “homeserver” #A description for your own reference, is not critical and can be set to whatever you like

You then need to add a user for the upsmon daemon to access the UPS, this is done in upsd.users, I added the following at the end of the file:

[upsmon] #username of your choice
password = enterpasswordhere #substitute your own desired password, this does not have to match a system user
upsmon master #not sure whether “upsmon” on this line is because it’s the user or to give special permission to the upsmon daemon, this is what I was able to scrape together into a working config, master is what you’ll select if upsmon is monitoring a locally connected UPS rather than one on a remote machine

The final config file is a bit more complex than the previous two, it sets parameters for the upsmon daemon that handles the monitoring of the UPS and triggers system commands for low battery signals etc. For a basic setup though you should only need to add one line and modify another. First you’ll need to add a line defining the user to use for upsmon:

MONITOR defender1200@localhost 1 upsmon $UPSD3fender master #this is my example user setup defined in the following format
MONITOR [UPS_name]@[hostname] [powervalue] [username] [password] [master or slave]

UPS_name is the name you’ve configured in ups.conf for the UPS, hostname is the network address of the machine it’s connected to usually just “localhost”, [powervalue] is the number of powersupplies on the system, usually just “1”, username and password are those you’ve configured in upsd.users and master or slave is the method you’re connecting to the UPS by, usually master.

After all this, as root (or sudo) run:
$ sudo /etc/init.d/nut start
Starting Network UPS Tools: driver(s) upsd upsmon.

If you’re lucky you’ll get the above output and you’re ready to go! You can check the UPS stats using the following, where defender1200 is the name you’ve given the UPS:

$ upsc defender1200
battery.voltage: 26.90
battery.voltage.nominal: 24.0
beeper.status: enabled
device.type: ups
driver.name: blazer_usb
driver.parameter.pollinterval: 2
driver.parameter.port: auto
driver.version: 2.4.3
driver.version.internal: 0.03
input.current.nominal: 5.0
input.frequency: 49.9
input.frequency.nominal: 50
input.voltage: 245.0
input.voltage.fault: 245.0
input.voltage.nominal: 240
output.voltage: 245.0
ups.delay.shutdown: 30
ups.delay.start: 180
ups.load: 0
ups.productid: 5161
ups.status: OL
ups.type: offline / line interactive
ups.vendorid: 0665

Hopefully this makes the process more clear for anyone in the same situation as I found it difficult getting some aspects of the config just right and had to trawl around quite a few man pages. The configuration provided here will automatically start a shutdown when the UPS sets a low battery signal, if you configure your machine to automatically power back on after a power failure it will also restore itself once power is restored.

Server Setup – TV Mobili

It’s been ages since my last post so I thought I’d give an attempt at something useful for the interwebs. Tvmobili is a free DLNA server I’ve recently become familiar with. There’s a million and one ways of streaming media and DLNA is one of them, personally I’d prefer SMB but with an XBOX 360 being part of my network DLNA was a must for my new home server so this was my solution. The server is running x64 Debian which has posed a problem; tvmobili is only compiled to run on 32 bit. There’s a simple solution for this which I’ve listed below. Take note, I use sudo so if you don’t have the sudo command installed and configure login as root or type “su” enter and login as root. These instructions should work for many debian based systems:

1. Download the tvmobili *.deb package, logged into a terminal I used wget http://www.tvmobili.com/binaries/stable/tvmobili-debian-linux-i386.deb
2. Install 32 bit libraries if using x64 linux, these are required to run 32 bit software:
sudo apt-get install ia32-libs
3. Install TvMobili:
sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture tvmobili-debian-linux-i386.deb (you can forego the –force-architecture on a 32 bit install)
4. Check tvmobili started properly:
ps -e | grep tvmobilisvcd
If this command shows any result then the tvmobili daemon is running
5. Login to configure tvmobili, you can do this from the same machine by visiting or on the same local network by going to your server_hostname:30888 (where server_hostname is your hostname) or the ip_address:30888 where ip_address is your server’s IP. From here you should be able to follow the guides on their site regarding configuration, here.

If all went according to plan that should be all that’s required, give tvmobili a while to index all your content, though it is rather speedy and took only a matter of minutes to index about a terabyte of my own data (though this was on a 4 disk RAID so it had a lot of disk read speed). You can monitor this on the status page of the tvmobili configuration page. It should automatically become visible to all DLNA clients on your network.


I kill wildlife.
It’s one of those days when you keep making mistakes.

Android 2.2 (Froyo) for HTC Desire on Telstra!

It’s finally made release. It’s not an Over The Air update as was originally speculated but you can grab it here. It’s relatively simple if you follow the instructions. Keep in mind though it will erase all user data including messages and contacts. I recommend downloading MyBackup (the free version) from the App Market. You can use this to backup all your apps and phone data then restore them once your update is complete, it will backup to a folder called rerware which will remain after the upgrade as will other data such as your music and video files. A couple of great reasons to get the update: 720p video recording and a wifi hotpsot app so that you can share your phone’s internet connection with other wifi enabled devices.

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