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Product Review: Winter Jerseys - GroundEffect Thermos + Berglar

Ground Effect  : Thermos + Berglar

I tour in Australia in the winter quite a bit, with some long tours. It doesn't get super cold, but it can be challenging. When it hovers around 0 centigrade (32 F) and it is blowing a cold wind, and it is raining, then the effective temperature can get towards the -5C or even lower. You want good gear to keep warm and to be comfortable.

I have had the Thermos for a few years, and recently I actually wore out my old jersey and replaced it with the Berglar.

When it's extremely cold I wear a synthetic thermal, with the Thermos over that, then the Berglar. On top of that I have a Netti rain jacket that I wear even when it's not raining.

Four layers? Yes. Layers are good. When I start for the day, I will take a few kilometres to warm up. Then I will start taking off layers. On a typical cold day when I'm in motion I will finally have the thermal and the Berglar.

The Thermos is a wind blocking undergarment. It's specifically built to b…
Recent posts

I decided to forgive Lance Armstrong.

It's not so popular, forgiveness. Nowadays people talk of "gaining closure" when the perpetrator has been ruined, humiliated, jailed or in many cases, killed. There are two amazing instances of forgiveness in modern history. South Africa, for one, and East Timor for another. People who have been abused, tortured and killed for years and years find the courage to forgive. Incredible.
Mine is a minor thing, really. I've decided to forgive Lance Armstrong. Yes, of course, he made a fool of all of us you say. He cheated. He ran a protection racket around his racket. How can you forgive somebody that did that? Well, I think I can. 
As others have said, he broke my heart, a little. I followed him for years, stayed up late night after night watching the Tour. I'll never forget some of those moments where he just sprinted away on the climbs. One summer my daughter and I made the journey to Adelaide to watch him in the Tour Down Under. Do I regret that? Not really. 
But …

Four short bike tours in Victoria, Australia using VLine trains for transport.

I've posted about how I plan short trips in my home region. I'm fortunate that Vline  allows bikes on trains, so I can get to the start easily and return the same way. Unfortunately this is not the case in any other states in Australia. Having said that you have to be careful in picking which services to take. You can't book ahead. One very important page you should check is the "service changes" page: when they work on the tracks (mostly in winter, but not always) they substitute buses for trains, and the buses won't take your bicycle.

Most of these rides are based around rail trails - Victoria has lots of them.

I have mapped each of these tours, so you can see how it plays out in detail, right down to the lunch stop and the camping location. Some of you may be able to travel up to double the pace, but you get the idea.

Great Victorian Rail TrailTrack My Tour track The Google Map display allows you to see the path I took, at least roughly. I tend to put poi…

How I plan a five day bike tour

Why plan? Some of the truly epic bicycle rides (e.g. http://cyclingtotheashes.wordpress.com/ ) began with almost no planning at all. Just ride out the front gate and keep going. It's not really necessary. 
For a shorter tour, though, I normally plan out the tour, at least in outline. It makes for a more pleasant journey. This is a very individual thing, so it's a process of trying things and finding what works for you. 
How to get to the start/finish ?
Why not start from home? I live in an outer suburb of Melbourne, about 45km from the centre. I find this is the most dangerous place to ride.  Australia generally is a very car dependent society. Almost all trips are taken by car. It's not comfortable or safe riding in these suburbs. I prefer to start and end bicycle tours at least 300km from a major city. That might seem extreme, but you have to get out of the city type zone. Where people either commute to the city or take day trips. 
I mostly take Vline trains to the start…

my very cheap touring bike stand

In the desert, there is nowhere to lean your bike. It's really difficult to stand holding it up, and unpack or pack it. That's how I came to think about stands.

There are the type that attach to the bike, and the pole type. My bike has a fitting for a stand, but I was reluctant. The weight when fully loaded, pushing against the frame. It would probably be ok, but I searched for a pole type solution.

I searched and found a commercial solution. They are really neat, and if you are looking for a good quality sturdy stand, then I suggest that you seriously look at them.

In my case, I had just mended my tent with great help from bluemoon200510 on ebay (http://www.ebay.com.au/usr/bluemoon200510 ). So I had some tent poles left over, and some of the elastic cord that goes down the middle. I wondered if I could use a tent pole as a stand.

The first version was a failure. Bike too heavy, stand bends wildly. Then I had a brainwave. Maybe two stands would do it. I got the gaffer tape an…

Melbourne's housing wars

Cities are growing all over the planet. In considering Melbourne's housing problems, I was momentarily distracted by San Francisco. Seems there has been an influx of some 75 thousand people over the last decade, leading to some well publicised incidents: demonstrations at Google buses, posting of nasty signs. Serious, I thought. Then I realised that Melbourne is growing by some 50 thousand people every year. So where SF has struggled with 75 thousand, Melbourne has somehow dealt with 500 thousand.
Wikimedia: Biatch at en.wikipedia
Impressive, I thought. Melbourne is successful. In a sense, yes. There are problems with success. It becomes expensive, for one.

"The Economist" global housing prices.
How can it be that it's more expensive to live in Melbourne than in London? At one level, it is the price of popularity. 
How does it do it? Mostly by adding at the edges. The fastest growing areas are in the outer fringes of the city. Great, impressive stuff. Only a matter …

Welcome to paradise...

A traveller crosses the globe, "searching for a better place". They most likely have googled the destination so much, seen the images, imagined what it is going to be like. When they arrive, they are open to the sunshine, the beaches, the people.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. Have almost all my life. Quite a lot of people arrive here with great expectations, excited that they have found a place that is so different to where they come from. For us residents, this is a bit weird.

Melbourne is visually impressive. It's only a few kilometres to a beach where you don't have to fight for a patch of sand. If you get up early enough in the morning, you might have it to yourself. The sun shines, a lot. It doesn't snow. The economy, if not booming, is certainly powering along. If you've just got off the plane from Ireland, or Spain, or the crowded cities of Asia, or the cold of Germany, then I guess it looks pretty good.

I've only lived outside Australia once, w…