Musical Commuting

I take a keen interest in transport infrastructure. I like to ride a motorcycle and bicycle but am dismayed by the shear number of people that use cars to commute to Albany where my software programming day job is located. The streets in that industrial area is a lane each way and wide enough for parallel parking on both sides. The result is this intense parking-lot looking feel and at lunch time it’s like everyone gets back in their cars to drive 0.5km to a cafe or gym.

I’m keen on the development of pedal assisted bicycles and projects related to them, especially the Copenhagen wheel. Unfortunately, without safer infrastructure (and the resolution of minor issues such as cost, marketing, popular support etc.), there will always be a reluctance to adopt them. The biggest problem is the culture issue with a car-centric transport system like Auckland where drivers aren’t used to sharing the roads with cyclists and tend to do stupid things around them. The result is this crazy chicken-egg scenario: until there are more cyclists, motorists won’t (can’t) change their “I’m bigger than you, you’re holding me up, get out of my way” culture but there aren’t more cyclist because motorists rule the infrastructure.

…and man, do I have strong opinions against the “cyclists should follow the same rules as cars” rubbish. A pedestrian != cyclist != motorcycle != car != bus != truck. All the vehicles are different so why should they follow the same rules? (That’s rhetorical because I’d like to think the answer is obvious).

But I didn’t start this post to moan about driving culture, I’d like to share how an Auckland clarinet/saxophone teacher gets around.

Behold…

A Ventura pack rack and bag works well with a bungee cord tied saxophone. Yes, I do have a legit number plate but I clone-tooled it out.

A Ventura pack rack and bag works well with a bungee cord tied saxophone. Yes, I do have a legit number plate but I clone-tooled it out.

There's not much chance of an alto sax case hitting any wing mirrors.

There’s not much chance of an alto sax case hitting any wing mirrors.

That, is my fantastic 2002 Honda VTR-250 complete with Venutra pack rack.

The clarinet can easily fit in the Aero Delta rack bag (with room for shoes, books, lunch and then some) and the saxophone can be bungee cord tied to the pack rack.

I tend to not ride with the saxophone as much now because I can keep it at my teaching studio but while I was playing gigs and studying at university, I must have been a conspicuous sight on the roads. Sure, it rains on occasion and yes, I get wet because my gear is only good for about 10-15 minutes of rain before it soaks through but there are “strategies” to account for that. The water has never gotten into the saxophone case.

I’m certainly not a so called fair-weather motorcyclist; I’ll ride in anything Auckland weather has to throw at me.

If anyone ever wanted to buy their first ever motorcycle, you just can’t fault the early 2000s Honda VTR 250s. I bought this bike went the mileage was on 11,000 km, now it has done 143,000 km. It’s had regular replacement tyres, oil and filter changes, sprocket and chain replacements and required a battery swap at about 110,000 km but nothing else. The bike just keeps going. I’ll admit some of the wiring is a bit flaky but the engine is good, corrosion is minimal and the bike still works great.

Is there anyone else in the world with a couple of bungee chords in their sax case? They come in handy. The bari sax player forgot his neck strap one day so we bungee tied him to the sax. Bounciest instrument posture ever.

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2 thoughts on “Musical Commuting

    • I’ve never tried strapping anything to the seat, mainly because of the convenience of just being able to slip the sleeve of the bag onto the rack. I’m not sure if strapping to the seat would offer much better handling relative to a rack and bag but it would certainly offer better handling than wearing a backpack.

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