Tillie & Coco

two ladies, two bicycles, two hemispheres

Category: Rear rack

Hoola hoops

by Alacoque

Dear Tillie,

I was walking into town yesterday and had to stop at the lights on Kent Street. As I waited to cross a couple of riders pulled up the lights on the cycleway. I could see a conversation happening between two riders who clearly didn’t know each other. When I crossed all was revealed- the male rider was letting the female rider know her hoola hoops had slipped backwards and were hitting her rear tyre. He helped her adjust them before they rode off. So lovely to see strangers helping each other! And hoola hoops!


Coco xx


To market, to market!

by Alacoque

Dear Tillie and friends,

the weather has finally turned and spring has well and truly sprung! The warm weather has everyone out on their bikes and I was very pleased to see this duo loading up their market buys on the back of mum’s bike. What a great example she is setting for her daughter- and such a nice way to shop!


Paddy’s Markets in Haymarket is often visited by riders but it isn’t well serviced by bike parking. Bike are always precariously locked up to anything that stands still. The demand is also increased by the students attending UTS next door. The surrounding area is to be redeveloped in the near future, including a bike path, so hopefully bike parking will be included too!

Coco xx

An Open Letter to the Person at Work Who Locked Their Bike to Mine

by Tillie

Dear Person,

I’m not sure how you managed it, but this morning you locked your bike chain around my bike seat as well as your bike and the bike park. Top marks for knots  and inconvenience! The only thing that prevented me leaving you a passive-aggressive post-it was that I just so happened to have my shifting spanner with me to install my rear light, which I collected from the shop yesterday, so I was able to remove my bike seat to free my bike from said entanglement.

Next time there will be  post-it!


Bikeminded Cake and Coffee Cruise

by Tillie

I finally sorted my back rack and pannier! I can totally fit the kitchen sink in that thing.

Hi Coco,

I had the best weekend of cycling. I have even overdone it and couldn’t cycle in to work yesterday due to a serious case of jelly legs – I could barely do stairs. On Saturday I went on the Bikeminded Cake & Coffee Cruise with some great folks from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Bike Heroes, and a number of other bloggers. We started off at Pedlars in Notting Hill for coffee, then set off on a very interesting route of quiet back streets through the Borough. In all, we had five stops to drink coffee / eat cake. The cakes were all delicious, and cleverly varied: a cupcake, macaron, friand, and an afternoon tea spread to finish, complete with vintage cups.

The only downer was being told off by staff at The Chelsea Teapot for taking this photo:

Clearly an attempt to steal cake designs.

It was great to learn about new places to buy cake. The shops were mostly in little side-streets I would never know to visit, which brings me to the other highlight of the day, the route! We were led through quiet residential streets – easy to chat to other cyclists and a much more interesting and enjoyable than tackling busy roads as a big group. It’s easy to think of your city in terms of the main streets when you’re used to taking the bus or driving everywhere, but it’s possible to get around quite easily on back streets, as long as you have a map (or a sat nav or whatever). I met the lovely Jemma from Help! My Chain Came Off, and Lady Velo, and Simon from The Fixed Factor, and lots of other great people who love cycling and cake. The excellent Kate (who wrote Part One of Kate & Nic) did an amazing job. She arranged for temporary cycle parking, bike valets, marshals, and a cycling photographer. IT WAS FAB.

Photo courtesy RBKC

Also courtesy RBKC

Don't mind if I do, man with friands!

On Sunday I clearly had not had enough of cycling and went on a picnic with Sergei. We didn’t go far, but as we had both cycled epic journeys on Saturday, it felt far. I was delighted to discover this eminently sensible sign at Wimbledon Park:

Have I mentioned that it’s Autumn?

In preparation for the colder weather, I have purchased some Bern winter earwarmers from London Cycle Chic. They are SUPER warm! It’s great not getting cold ear headaches cycling in the early morning. I’ve also ordered the Pashley rear light to fit my new rear rack, as it’s quickly becoming dark in the evenings and foggy in the mornings. Even though Pashley no longer offer dynamo lights separately (sadly), you can still purchase the rear LED light. John from Pashley customer services very helpfully gave me the part number and a comprehensive list of stockists. Thanks John!

How are things in Sydney? Tell the baby hello from me.

T x

Happy Mothers Day!

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

I was so lucky on Sunday. My mother came to Sydney to have a picnic lunch with her adoring offspring. My sister and her husband picked her up from the train station and I rode down to the park. My rather hungover brother made it down a little later.

We had the most wonderful picnic lunch! My sister, Sophie, is THE best cook! She made a platter of gorgeous sandwiches- cucumber, salmon, chicken with pistachio, and egg. She even made a little plate of special sandwiches for little old gluten-intolerant me! There was sparkling wine and sparkling water for those of us driving/riding.

After sandwiches I presented my contribution to the fare- chocolate pavlova with raspberries! It was the first time I made a chocolate pavlova and I was pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t perfect but it was delicious!

After our desert my sister borrowed my bike to ride to the café at the other end of the park for tea & coffees. When she returned she commented on how everyone looks at you when you ride my bike. It’s true, you do get a lot of stares on my bike. I think it’s because people are not used to upright bikes, the only kind of cycling people in Sydney know is the lycra clad sporty type. I like to think just being seen on an upright is educating people, challenging their perceptions.

Oh and the highlight of the day? My mother decided she was not to be left out of the bike riding fun so she hopped on my bike! It was her first ride in, oh, at least 30 years? She looks like a natural! And of course she loved it.

Go Mum!

Love Coco xx

PS. I rode the whole way there and back sans helmet. I kept it visible in my front basket but as I didn’t ride on the road at all (shared paths the whole way) I thought I’d get away with it. And I did. I even rode past two police women on the way home and they didn’t give me a second look. Maybe things are changing? Here’s hoping!

Parts & Accessories

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

A problem you may not have encountered, seeing as your bike is so awesomely kitted out, is getting accessories to fit and match your bike. Now I love my Electra Amsterdam but I didn’t take into account the difficulty of acquiring parts and accessories when I bought her. See Electra is an American brand and they only make two shipments to Australia a year. That leaves one playing the waiting game and performing lots of weird finger crossing in the hope your local retailer will manage to get the part you’re after. That’s what has happened with my rear rack. Basically I can’t get it here. I tried, they tried, but it just didn’t happen. SO I’ve gone for the alternative- a basic Topeak rack that I am customising for my bike. The other accessory I very much wanted but couldn’t get here (they don’t import them) was skirt guards. I ended up buying them from the online Electra shop, but as they don’t ship to Australia or accept international credit cards I was forced to use a shipping forwarding company called Hop Shop Go. This meant I could get the product here to Sydney but the shipping costs were greater than the skirt guards themselves! And of course they only had them in black.

So that explains why today I spent the morning sanding off layers of paint from my rear rack and sanding on some ‘tooth’ on my plastic skirt guards in order to be spray painted to match my bike. After I had sanded, wiped down and dried my parts I tied them onto my clothesline, laid down a drop sheet and got painting! I used White Knight’s Rust Guard Epoxy Enamel in Cream. It offers ‘superior rust protection’ and is self-priming- very handy!

Now I just have to wait for the bloody things to dry so I can attach them to my bike (so impatient I know!). I was planing on stencilling something on the skirt guards (flowers, sugar skulls, pinup girls perhaps) but I couldn’t decide what and realised it simply meant more time watching paint dry (which is as boring as, well, watching paint dry) so for the moment they will remain plain old cream, but I’m going to keep my eye out for some stickers/decals. If I get inspired in the future I can simply take them off and paint again.

Anyway, what do you think so far?