Freediving the Bass Strait Coast on a Darker Winter Day

Sometimes it’s a little darker and disturbing in the water, it’s not always of our choosing.

But isn’t that what life asks of us?

To savour the light and calm, recover, energise, lift our spirits to a new plane.

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Project Bike: Open Mould Carbon Frame and Campagnolo EPS

Mercier-Badged Open Mould Carbon Fibre Road Bicycle Medium 54cm equipped with Campagnolo Athena EPS Electronic 11-Speed Groupset.

There’s something about the French way, even the simplest of simplest things has an air of elegance and traditional expertise about it. The humblest of daily items, the baguette, it signifies a touch of flair, of passion, of the qualities you’d expect from artisans making bespoke incredible things. Not like our stack of pain, *cough*, sorry ‘bread’ in aisle two that resembles a cubist influenced block of white dough from a sturdy and safe stackable hard wearing rectangular tin, presented in a colourful plastic bag with a matching white square collar around its spun neck. That’s just tip top.

Gasping? So am I.

But there it is, your daily bread in France, created by an artificer flamboyantly sifting and lifting just a few ingredients; flour, salt and water. Evoking the same expertise in its production as you have upon the allure of Baccarat Crystal dining wear as you’re encompassed in the joie de vivre imbued upon you as you lift your butter knife in the restaurant bearing the same name, Cristal Room Baccarat, Paris.

How is it that this ultimate craftsmanship for a simple daily doughy icon seems so far out of reach?

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Project Bike: Ridley Excalibur Carbon Road Bicycle

Ridley Excalibur Carbon Fibre Road Bicycle Small 53cm equipped with Shimano 105 11-Speed Groupset.

This Belgian lightweight super-responsive oversized-tubing carbon roadie is borne from the Ardennes, upon the Liege-Bastogne-Liege damn tough undulating roads winding through steep-sided valleys, punctuated by gear-grinding climbs through the Walloon region. I’ve ridden those roads, they’re at times punchy, definitely cobbled, certainly meandering with tight medieval corners perfect for defending against the steely swords of King Arthur’s mysticism.

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Project Bike: Casati Dardo Italian Scandium Carbon Road Bicycle

The Dardo scandium alloy main frame and carbon fibre rear end road bicycle, serial #3281, from the house of Casati, Italian family bicycle fabricators, looks fast standing still in its diablo red and pearl white livery. Produced by brothers Luca and Massimo, it’s far from just a mere bicycle, these are works of art emerging from 100 years of family tradition.

As confirmed by Rudi from Cicli Casati, this frame is one of only 150 Dardo frames ever produced in this way, it is a true exquisite and rare find in the world.

The very first custom road bike I ventured forward gleefully with, and by custom I mean from scrawls on paper and more than just a new set of wheels and individually selected components, was fabricated by another pair of Italian brothers, Gianni and Fabio Bonetti, who have produced bikes not since 1920, but some fifty years younger, beginning their operation in 1970. Located around 50 kilometres from Venice and some 240 kilometres from brothers Luca and Massimo, funnily enough when the Bonetti bike was commissioned via email with the assistance of long-standing Italo-Australian Cycling Club Secretary, Gino, it was in fact a Dedacciai scandium frame and carbon fibre rear, just the same as this Ferrari-fast Casati Dardo. So even though I’m valiantly trying to track down my first Bonetti (please let me know here if you see it), in a way my lucid dreams of that first Italian escapade are being willingly stolen away by the Dardo.

Casati Bicycles are not ones to produce thousand upon thousand of bicycles every year, in fact even if you spent the next three hours googling “Casati Dardo”, it’d be impressive to find more than a couple of these original frames in existence, never mind finding a beautifully finished one in diablo red and pearl white one like this, by none other than famed bicycle painter, Carlo Dossena.

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Project Bike: De Rosa Neo Primato Italian Steel Tourer

Steel bikes have a ride quality that is unlike carbon fibre, aluminium or titanium. Italian bikes seem to carry an aura unlike others, particularly when they exude flair and panache through the details of the lug work and refrain from the pings, tings, and clumping sounds you hear when riding frames produced in other materials.

De Rosa brand bikes always fascinated me in the way a supercar parked in the street does, surveying that loud painted eye-catching brashly geometric Lamborghini Murcielago, you can’t help but not look, kind of not wanting to be seen looking at it, but also wanting to drop straight into the cockpit and know what’s lurking under that gregarious skin. And thus when this used De Rosa Neo Primato Italian Dedacciai Steel 55cm road bike appeared on the second hand market, it immediately sparked a deep curiosity and found its way into the quiver.

Neo Primato Background

In 1975 Ugo De Rosa designed and fabricated the bicycle which none other than The Cannibal, Eddy Merckx, the Belgian professional road and track bicycle racer, would ride in the 1975 Tour de France leading the Italian Molteni road bicycle racing team.

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Books: The Octopus and I

As you move around the world and connect with people, in an under-the-first-layer trusted way, you soon begin to understand that everybody is carrying something.

The nature of that thing is just as heavy upon both the outwardly strong and the meek, the weight equal in opposite but the capacity to carry almost always features its reverse in scale of resilience. To underestimate the strength by relation to perceived valour would be the unkindest of mistakes with respect to the mild.

The story of Lucy in the new novel “The Octopus and I” by Erin Hortle, I motored through it in a matter of hours spread over four consecutive days. The pages not offered the chance to crease from their binding, such was the way I poured through it.

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