Monday, 1 October 2012

Enjoyment at other peoples expense.

I have not Blogged about the Moth Worlds because my ego got a big kicking.  However thanks to Gerhard here is a picture of me leading the race into the cliffs.

Shortly afterward I was very last.  I realized it is time to spend more than 3 days a year sailing and over 20,000 Euros.  Moth sailing is loosing its charm for me as I see that that it is no longer a competition with myself anymore and more a money and time drain.  However I hope some effort to race locally next year will give me some return on my small investments.

Another lesson from the Worlds is the starts where horrible and nasty bad. I was surprised no one got hurt or did some expensive damage.  Wait a minute they did a few times....  split second decisions that cost thousands of euros killed the fun a bit for me too...

Anyway the sailing and location was great and it is good to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones.  Not sure if I can catch then on the race course though.

It was great to watch others hurt themselves and do thousands of euros of damage.  Here (again from Gerald) is a little pre start smash... Enjoy.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

International Sporting

As a Brit you can not help being motivated by the success that GB are having at the Olympics. So here is a rundown of my personal international sporting preparation...

Alfred has been busy in the Bat Cave and Lord Flashheart is nearly repaired. A big thanks to 2 people that contacted me with tips on where to get carbon tubes at short notice. This kind of camaraderie demonstrates to me how cool the the Moth fleet is. Aardvark delivered a new mast boom and replacement tubes so I am sorted (nearly). A new Hyde sail arrived too so if everything fits together I will be blisteringly fast at the worlds in my 4 year old boat (maybe).

The Bat Cave is turning into a disaster. It is about 16 degrees down there and a humid 35 outside so the ventilation means I am pumping water down there and the high humidity means everything is going moldy and there are puddles of condensation on the floor. This is really disappointing because a winters work is potentially wasted and the space unusable. However I think I will have to buy a dehumidifier and stop the ventilation in summer at least. It is really disappointing that the answer to making the space work is to throw energy at the problem, but that is how we humans solve a lot of problems...

On a side note I have decided to start a new blog for all the bike stuff. This is because I did not think it fair to hijack the Moth audience for my political rants. However if you are interested (as a surprisingly large number of Moth sailors seem to be) here is the blog address: I will blog here about the bat-mobile project which you can see Alfred is progressing extremely slowly. Manfred will deliver materials to Garda so I will hopefully be able to get Alfred to concentrate on this project this winter (once he has fixed the humidity problem...).

Touch Rugby continues as we train for the Euros which are shortly after the Moth worlds. Despite captaining the A-Team to victory in the Austrian league this year I am learning that I am getting too old for touch. The brain now knows what should be done but the body does not do is fast enough. Here is a great video of our team (with me (Nr. 8) wondering what the fuck is going on) at the Worlds against The Cook Islands last summer.

I look forward to seeing a lot of you in Garda. I will arrive on Saturday midday and hope to get the new rig working sail measured and a few beers drunk before Mondays racing start. I have only really raced at the German nationals since the Euros 2 years ago so my training has been streamlined. Therefore it will be a challenge to retain my "always come in the middle of the fleet" title.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

German Open Nationals Walchensee

Niki and I went to the beautiful Walchensee for the German Open Nationals.  Team Austria arrived with a new set of Aardvark foils for Niki and without the bag of important bits I had taken off Lord falasheart so that I do not losse them...  So day one was a morning full of creative boat work to get us both on the water for the start.

Lord Flashhert had never been better.  The quick creative fixes were better than the stuff I have been using for the last 4 years.  I had 3 days of fantastic racing and it really was a great event. A big thanks to the German Moth fleet and Walchensee sailing club.

In the end I finished in the middle of the fleet, which is where I always end up.  Lord Flashheart showed her age a bit and was the tortoise amongst the hares.

After the last race on the last day we all raced to the shore to escape the Mountain storm.  I was 200 meters from the beach when several tons of air avalanched down a mountain onto the lake and sent me speeding faster than I have even been in a Moth.  I was feeling a bit confident so I rode it as would Lord Flashheart.  Then the next gust came on top of that and I was too scared to jump off so I rode it too.  This did not last long and the wing I was sitting on broke in 4 places under the load.  I rose to the surface of the lake after the crash and my first thought was "Thank Fuck I have stopped because i was not sure how else I could.".  However now Lord Flashheart is in need of new carbon wing and I am not sure if I can get the tubes on time for the Worlds. 

Back to the (moldy) Batcave for some super hero boat fixing.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Where is the traffic light?

Here is a nice example of the kind of crap you have to deal with every day on a bike in Vienna.

Where is the traffic light for bikes?

From the other side of the road we can see it here pointing in totally the wrong direction.

I tryed to turn it and it was solid. So this is not vandals. There was no damage to it so I do not think a truck hit it and spun it round. There is no reason for a light pointing where this one does. It is clearly an installation mistake.

I think if there is no traffic lights a you are on a continuous RadWeg then you have right of way (however the rules are so unusably complex that you can never know). So if you can not see the light can you ride on out here at any phase?

The lesson here is do not take the rules of the road, road marking or signs seriously because they are a load of crap.

Location is here:

Friday, 8 June 2012

Feel like a super hero

I had a fantastic sail yesterday with Lord Flashhert and new AUT Moth Sailor Philip. I had my first go ever in a Prowler and a fine machine she is. It was force 3 flat water and sunshine. Really perfect conditions for a buzz around the lake. The windsurfers are not quite up to speed and all other sailing boats are stationary by comparison so you can not help but feel like a super hero as you fly around at high speed.

Meanwhile back in the Bat Cave the Bat Mobile starts to take shape:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Bat Cave

It has taken absolutely ages, but Stage 1 of the Bat Cave is done. It has taken me all winter to renovate this room in the cellar but it is now fully operational and I was repairing Assassin bits for the AUT fleet today. Unfortunately there are still 2 more rooms to do and the wettest wall in the renovated room is already going moldy and falling to bits... So despite the excitement of having a new play room I can not help questioning the sanity of the project.

However the joy of a screw rack and being able to find my tools soon make the hours of re-mortoring seam worth while, or at least that is what I keep telling myself.

So now the focus can go from play room to building toys in it. The Bat Mobile can now start to take shape. I am gluing bits of foam together in the hope that at some point a fair, fast, good looking shape, that me and the trike fit in, will be the result... this is also emerging to be of questionable sanity.

Summer is here and it is time to play outside. A sail last weekend in a gusty strong wind demonstrated that I have to get some practice in the Moth if I am going to be able to get to the start line at the Worlds let alone stay in the thing. However the blind terror of earlier days has now been replaced with a feeling of annoyance as I get ejected and Lord Flasheart heads for the slit, so I think that is progress.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Sunday, 18 March 2012

light at the end of the cave

Renovating a cellar is a lot of work but I have got far enough to start gluing together foam to make a male mould for the Batmobile.

I can now also get Lord Flashheart ready to fly. I have fixed the boat cover with our new (surprisingly complicated for a basic robust model...) sewing machine and have just one laminating repair job to do and she will ready for chocks away. It is great to see the Mothapalooza prize which will hopefully help get some diversity back into the fleet. Send me your worlds entry for my list here.

Cycle campaigning is in fashion with the Times Campaign reaching Italy and now Austria!

This is probably my most positive optimistic post ever. So I will keep it short and promise that normal service will be resumed soon.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Fun Worlds entry list

Spring is just around the corner in Europe so it is time to start thinking about summer. If you are coming to the worlds let me know, so I can add you to my list:

To make my life easy please resister with the IMCA site if you have not done so. You can also add your boat here: Then send me a picture and a quick mail to doug at culnane do net and I will do the rest.

This is not an official entry list but it is a list of people that are planning to come and their gear. This data feeds a database of boats which (like the Boats for sale feature) attempts to keep track of what boat are out there...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Share the Road and Safety in Numbers.

Some Cycling campaigners are keen to promote the idea of sharing the road and that safety in numbers leads to better conditions for cyclists. This is a nice idea but unfortunately it is total bollocks.

Is the very basic and questionable relationship between number of cyclists and accident rates really solid science on which to base traffic policy?

Fred Wegman (Director-manager SWOV: Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands.) on page 3 says here that:

"I do not expect that just a greater number of cyclists will on its own result in a risk reduction for the cyclist. On the other hand, I do expect that more cycling facilities will lead to lower risks. Policy that only focuses on an increase in cycling and at the same time ignores the construction of more cycling facilities, will not have a positive effect on road safety."

and I believe he maybe knows what he is talking about because the Netherlands has the safest roads in the World despite also having a largest proportion of vulnerable cyclists road users.

I believe that roads like this:

are the reason there are not many cyclists in London and why the roads are unsafe for vulnerable road users. I also believe that roads like this:

are the reason that there a lots of cyclists in the Amsterdam and why they are safer. Yes there will always be conflict and there will be accidents but the results of mistakes have a much lower consequences in terms of injuries if you share the road with similar types of vehicle. The Dutch road design aims to remove or reduce the conflict between dissimilar vehicles.

How they built this infrastructure is detailed here:

Good infrastructure and high cycle modal share benefits all road users, even car drivers.

Copenhagen gets it:

Vancouver are getting it:

Some of Vienna sort of gets it but I feel the focus is more on law and promotion more than crap road design. I do not think I am the only one that thinks this as this article form 2009 seams to agree.

Why am I banning on about this. Well I am feed up with the bad road design that leads to unnecessary dangerous conflict. I am inspired that "Cycle campaigning in the UK has now got serious" and I hope this will also happen in Vienna.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Keep your wits about you!

Some cyclists in London are starting a campaign for safer roads. They are frustrated by their Mayor, Boris Johnson, who thinks that one just needs “to keep your wits about you” to be able to use the road system safely by bike.

Here is some info about some new initiatives that are happening in New York:

And here is a comparison of New York and London cycling that I think you will agree is very safe so long as you keep your wits about you.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Vienna hosts Velo-city 2013.

Vienna will host Velo City the premier international cycling planning conference. I presume this is so that delegates can study first hand how crap road design can be.

Here we are 500 meters form home this morning:

Note that the lights turn green for pedestrians cars and cycles at the same time. So right turning cars have to cross the pedestrian crossing while looking over their shoulder for bikes going straight coming down the bike lane. This is really hard in a car an so it does not happen and bikes get right hooked all the time.

Here we are after another 500m. Here cars travel from a 50kmph 3 lane one way road and have the same issue if they want to turn right but this time with a tram too.

If humans are to be allowed to drive cars then you can not expect them to get this right all the time so the cyclist or pedestrian is going to have to yield to the turning car. Some times car drivers do slow down (but not very often) and they do look properly but this of course only results in a horn from behind meaning that their attention is taken away from the important task that they are trying to do to the wanker behind them that needs to get to the next queue of traffic so they can wait there 2 seconds longer.

IMHO there is so much wrong in the human factor engineering of Vienna's roads. I do not have super computers to model traffic flow and light sequences or accurate traffic volume data and CAD drawings of roads so I do not pretend to be an expert. My skill set is more a Cycling version of Clarkson rant, so this will probably be the first in a series of posts as I download my anger to the Internet. I would love to offer constructive dialog about how cycling infrastructure could be improved but others do this much better than me.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Batmobile

Work in the Bat Cave (thanks for the re-branding guys) is progressing but very very slowly. I need to get the main room re-pointed and then build a wall, a workbench, fit lights and sockets and build some stairs before I concentrate on building a shell to go around this trike.

It is a KMX Venom with a back rack and some home made wheel covers. I have been riding this around a bit (~200km) and it is a lot of fun. It has more rolling resistance than a bike but less aerodynamic drag so it works out to be about the same speed as fast normal bike. I can average about 30 kmph for about 5km and have a top speed of about 40kmph on the flat. This is my benchmark to beat once I have built the shell. There is a really good bike speed calculator here that shows how fast velomobiles should be.

The aim to to make something comparable to the Sinner Mango velomobile. It is a bit of a silly project but it is also very interesting technically. I am doing it the easy way using the trike as a bike and making a shell to go around it so it means that I have a working bike (which I know little about) and can not go too far wrong (I hope). However the proper developed velomobiles have suspension, structural body, central steering stick etc... but this project should cost under half the costs of a new one, and we will see how it turns out.

The plan is to use some pink house insulation foam to shape up a male plug. I will then put a layer of glass on it for a bit of surface stiffness and then filler and paint. I can then vacuum some carbon and foam sandwich laminate on to the plug. I will then cut the carbon shell in half with a knife and should be able to pop off the two halves off. I hope this method will work well and mean I do not have to mess around making proper female molds which is very expensive and time consuming. Maybe I can reuse the male mold again but I suspect this is realistically a one off project. Any advice and tricks from you composite gurus out there is very welcome.