Sunday, January 6, 2013



Haven't seen you around in a while.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Working Full Time.

Hey, just because this blog isn't being updated any more, doesn't mean I'm not writing at all. Check out the article I wrote for Cycling News here. Doing the story was a heap of fun, and I'm looking forward to more bits and pieces in the new year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

She Prefers Fire.

In light of some recent news, The New Timer is going on temporary hiatus. We'll notify you good folks on Facebook and Twitter when we're back.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tugging At My Shirt.

Friday Roundup! Friday Roundup!

First of all, while a lot of the cyclocross this year has taken on an air of seriousness, there's no way in hell that the good people at Dirty Deeds will let that foul stench besmirch next Saturday night's Spooky Cross. Apparently a smoke machine tent has been procured, and I keep seeing folks on Twitter asking about lasers. And Hamish and I will be on the mic again!

Cut Sick were one of my favourite bands of about five years ago, and they're playing a show tonight. It's being combined with bassplayer Steve's art show, and they're being supported by the Onyas. Those are two excellent reasons to go. Plus, I keep hearing folks whose tastes in music I really rate that I'd really like White Walls, who they're also playing with. Plus, it's at the Gaso, so you'll be able to give Kody's ass a little squeeze from me while you're there.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tara Jayne is in town, and that means Shit Weather are playing a show. It's tomorrow night, also at the Gaso, and is with a bunch of other bands I've never heard of. They always put on a good show though, so you should check them out.

And, you know what, that's about it from me today. I got a pretty funny week coming up - Curriculum day Monday, another two doctor's appointments Tuesday, then a half-day strike Wednesday. Should be pretty cruisy, come to think. I hope yours is just as relaxed.

And It's Time, Time, Time That You Love.

Tara Jayne and I are hanging out on Brunswick Street, strolling along in the misty rain. She's lived in Sydney a while now (remember when she left? Man, that time sucked), and tells me that coming back down to Melbourne feels stranger than it used to. "When I lived here I had so much to work on," she says, "But now, when I have a day off, I'm kind of at a loss. I just don't know what to do." I kinda know how she feels. Now that I'm not riding my bike so much I have all this time, and occasionally I have no idea how to fill it. I read books, I run errands around town, I catch up with old friends, but sometimes I find myself with an empty hour and no way to fill it. In a strange way, that's a pretty good feeling. As opposed to the hours when I was sticking to a program, or the hours when I'm at work, those empty hours feel like they wholly belong to me. It's like I can stretch out in them, unravel a little, take them or leave them. Or do both, if I choose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three. That's The Magic Number.

I've known Jen Jen, pictured above showing off some salt and pepper, for probably six or seven years now, but it's only recently that we've started having a regular catch up. Both of us are teachers, which generally allows us to knock off around four on a Friday afternoon, and spend the couple of hours between work and dinner drinking coffee, talking shop, gossiping and generally chatting. She won't hate me saying that in the past few years she's settled down a bit -  worked a steady job, got married, bought a house - but that doesn't stop her from throwing down when the music is right. So it made sense to ask her to take on a Music Wednesday. Here goes. I'm hoping she doesn't use this opportunity to get me back for the time I told the whole internet she looked disheveled.

Brendan asked me to do Music Wednesday, so here are some songs that always make me dance around like a fool.

When I was a youngster, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so much, I even had the Pizza Power board game. TMNT combined with Vanilla Ice is just a winning combination really.

I also loved the Labrynth, but I always felt a bit uncomfortable about David Bowie’s pants in that movie. This song is a party favourite though, guaranteed to make you feel a bit sexy.

When I want to feel like the most amazing dancer in the world, I play this song and dance around the living room. In my head, I have the best hip hop moves of anyone I know. Oh, and it also uses Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (I can’t believe they were never a couple!).

Speaking of Kenny, when I was a kid, I thought him and Willy Nelson were BFFs. I don’t know if they really were. But I also love Johnny Cash.

And finally, something completely different. Metric are great, this song rules for singing along to and having a boogie in the car.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Invent A Fire.

I rode my bike around Cuba once. It was pretty good. I quickly discovered two things: 1) that once I figured out all the vegan words (no carne, no leche, no huevos) I could eat just fine, and 2) that Cuba has hills. The latter was the more disturbing discovery. I was no cyclist back then, and I'd hastily thrown together a bike with a minimum of expertise. In fact, I'd bought a cyclocross bike on ebay for the purpose of touring, but the UPS fucked up the shipping somehow and the racks we had didn't fit it. So I ended up throwing the racks and panniers on an old flat bar hybrid and riding that around for two months. It didn't have a computer, didn't have fully working gears, and only barely fit me. It lasted pretty well though, only breaking a spoke in the last 2 hours of our entire journey. I loosened the brakes, limped it home and abandoned the wheel at Havana airport.

After three months of Canadian winter I was vastly unprepared for the Cuban sun, and was brutally sunburned on the first day in the saddle. On my first day in a proper town - Vinales - I hunted down an old clothing store and found a long-sleeved business shirt that kinda fit me, and that I consequently wore the entire way around the island. It was almost transparent with sweat most days, but would come good with a decent rinsing, and kept the UV rays away from my poor skin. That evening in Vinales I rode up to an old tobacco homestead and surveyed the realm. Wearing my business shirt with the collar turned up I felt like I was part of a forgotten era. And then, on the way back down the hill, when one of the locals whispered to me, "You want cigar? You want rum? You want woman?" the feeling was compounded, and no longer as fun.

I also brushed up against the Cuban music scene once. I was walking back to my room in Holguin one evening when I saw what seemed to be a band setting up. Later that night when I returned to sate my curiosity a fully-fledged metal show was in progress. Seems the kids in Cuba listen to way too much Cradle of Filth (at the risk of insulting any Cradle of Filth fans who also happen to be reading this blog – which kinda makes my head explode to consider – I’m going to suggest that any Cradle of Filth is way too much). After a couple of minutes some locals came up for a chat. I told them that I was more into punk than metal, and they gave me the names of a couple of bands I should check out. The concept of ironic detachment, however, hadn’t quite made it to Cuba when it comes to band nomenclature – one of them was ‘Porno for Preacher’, and the other I think roughly translates to ‘Y’know, someone should tell those earnest kids on the corner selling badges that communism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’.

The shittiest part of the trip, strangely enough, was in the last few nights, when I'd booked into a fancy resort in the beach town of Varadero. I'd been pretty well looked after by the locals throughout Cuba, staying in people's houses, being fed beans and rice and eating random fried vegetables on the street. But being in the resort kinda sucked. I'm no resort snob - fuck, I love cable TV, self-service salad bars and clean bedsheets every day - but this is where the two factors peculiar to me (that I was riding a bike, and that I am vegan) became increasingly and noticeably difficult. The resort just wasn't flexible enough to deal with either, accustomed as it was to churning through identical German tourist after German tourist.

But that's just the bad bits. The good bits were far more prevalent, if slightly less funny. The beaches, as you can see above, were spectacular, and the water bathtub warm. The people were for the most part fucking awesome, especially when they found out I was from Australia. Riding my bike meant that I was occasionally stopping where few other tourists did so, and while that occasionally meant drop toilets and no hot water, it also meant I occasionally stumbled onto places like Gibara, an old port where few folks other than locals ever ventured.

However, one time in particular stands out. I was riding west from Santiago de Cuba and was supposed to be stopping at some random ranch about fifty kilometres away. On my arrival at the ranch I discovered that it had been closed due to cyclone damage. There was no other place to stay anywhere nearby, so I had no other option than to soldier on to Pilon, a further fifty clicks down the road. It was a freaking spectacular road, easily the rival of the Great Ocean Road, with the Sierra Maestra (where I believe Guevara and Castro and Haydee Santamaria hid out during the revolution) on my right and the Carribean on my left, but by the end of the day I was out of water and in no state to appreciate it. Eventually I arrived in Pilon and found a small hotel that mercifully had a pool. 100ks was easily the furthest I'd ever ridden a bicycle at that time. I figured I'd be wrecked the next day and booked in for two nights. But the next day, well watered and well fed, I was ready to go again. In fact, by midday I was kinda missing the bike, and went for a ride around the tiny town. I hadn't wanted to ride 100ks in a day, but now that I realized I could, a bigger world was opening up for me. And that was a pretty good thing indeed.

Blood On My Hands

The problem with being a vegan is that the minute you get sick, no matter what kind of illness you have come down with, most people will tell you that it is because you are vegan.

I have been sick a lot the past five months, so I'm beginning to get suspicious myself.  I mean, who can blame me?  Surely a good sausage roll will solve the problem.

The real bummer here is, of course, when sickness disallows me from riding my bike.  The minute I seem to string a good week together, the next week seems to be plagued with niggling illness, bad weather, or a bad case of the ceebs.

With this in mind, here are FJ's criteria to know when you are sick, followed by how to make ya feel better.

1. You wake up unable to swallow.  Swallowing is really painful.  You don't just have a sore throat.  No, you have swollen tonsils.  Forget about riding.  Forget about talking.  Just forget about having a good time for the coming days.

2. You get out of bed, and are a bit achey.  Head is all fluffy, and you aren't as hungry as usual.  When you get on the bike it's a struggle to even turn the pedals, let alone put any power down.  You probably have the beginning of flu.  It's gonna suck for the next three to four days.  Accept your lot, and go watch Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  And Snatch.  'Do you like dags?'

3. You wake up and you can't see because looking at light makes your head explode with pain.  You have meningitis.  You might die.  If you don't, you can ride in a week or so.

4. You're heart slows to a dangerous level while you sleep.  You have taken EPO.  That is so cool.

I have had all of the above, at some point, except for EPO (but if anyone knows anyone, hit me up).  I even rode home from a party after meningitis had set in.  It was pretty horrible but, on the other hand, my hallucinations were so severe I barely knew where I was.

I used to try and do the 'work through the sickness' thing.  All that seems to involve is going to work, sneezing on everyone, complaining about how you can't get any work done, and taking twice as long to get better.  These days I just call in sick, sit under a blanket, eat lots of healthy food, and twice as much of it, so I usually come good within 48 hours.  It'd be pretty good if the past three months hadn't been punctured with shit two day periods.  With this in mind:

1. Drink lots of water.  So boring, but so necessary.  I tried beer once.  It didn't work.

2. Eat fuckloads.  I got this off Jez 'Crossboss' Soawyer.  Just eat twice as much as you normally would.  So far, so good.

3. Sleep.  Get ten hours if you can.  If you're unlucky, you'll have a blocked up nose that causes you to wake up every two hours.  Sucks to be you.

4. Don't ride.  Even the smallest training ride will suppress your immune system to some extent.  Just take it easy for two or three days.  Think about how fresh you'll be when you get back to it!

5. Watch Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  It is a scientific fact that watching English thugs say funny things and shooting each other will, at the very least, reduce the time in bed by a third.

If you are sick, get well soon!  If you're not, carry on as per usual.  Let me know where you get your sausage rolls.

Charles, get the air rifle.  We're being fucked...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Catatonic State.

Hi. This is the Friday Roundup. It's pretty good.

First of all, because I have a little bit of spare time this Sunday Morning, I've reluctantly agreed to take the Sunday Skills Session at DISC this week. Starting at 8 and going til 11, it promises to be three hours of jam-packed goodness with sweet sugary sprinkles. I did tell people in other parts of the internet that we'd do lots of positioning drills, but now I'm thinking I might just make people do chases - you know, where you have to lap the bunch - until they can't walk any more.

But before that there's the last installment of DISCO Track. Apparently this is the one where they hand out all the prize money. And, in further good news, this time the maximum gearing allowed is a 92.6, which was apparently Gary Neiwand's gear of choice back in the day. You should go down there. The music won't be good but the racing will be.

And maybe, after you've killed yourself on the track, you could go for a nice easy recovery ride in the woods. You know, like Gravel Grinders #8. Be aware, however, that this ride may not be nice, or easy, or encourage recovery in your tired limbs. Will probably still be a good rocking time though. Probably way better than Around The Bay In A Day, which is also on Sunday, but which sounds like kind of a drag.

Monique called me out on overlooking the Breeze program last week, which meant I didn't know about the launch until it was way too late. But still, it sounds like a freaking rad idea - if you're female and even vaguely interested in participating in bike racing, group rides, or even being a better cyclist, you now have a first point of call.

I believe the Tour of the Goldfields started today. It's taking place around Ballarat and involves a bunch of the nation's best female cyclists. Man, this would be some serious racing. In that link there's a sweet interview with Lisa Jacobs, but she's gonna have some tough competition from Netti Edmondson and a bunch of other big hitters. It'd be good watching, should you find yourself in Ballarat this weekend.

I'm not going to Ballarat this weekend though. I'm going to watch Shellac play. Twice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


For some reason, on my way home this evening, I ended up with this song stuck in my head:

I was never a huge fan of Nirvana, never owned an album, but obviously the grunge era has left its mark on me, in that way that in left its indelible mark on everyone who grew up in the 90s. So today I present to you guys perhaps the most difficult Music Wednesday I've ever done: Grunge That Doesn't Suck.

I remember Dan O'Donnell telling me about this film clip a long time before I ever saw it. Dinosaur Jr didn't really sound like many other grunge bands, and as such hold up considerably better. I've been listening to a heap of them lately - the new album is a bonafide banger, and listening to it makes me feel good about everything in the entire world. Apparently the band is known for their quirky filmclips. Who knew? I thought this one was a one-off.

Smashing Pumpkins were a band I couldn't listen to for a really long time. I hated them so much that when someone pointed out that Kirsten Dunst looks like Billy Corgan with hair, I started hating her too. But then one day I was climbing up Tawonga Gap on my fixie. It was hard, and I was struggling. Just when I thought I was going to have to get off and walk my bike, this song came on the iPod. And it was rad. I didn't walk.

Nothing about Sonic Youth sucks, apart from maybe their recent breakup. I can even handle the later, all-feedback, all-the-time records. They did get lumped in with other grunge bands though, which seems unfair sometimes, but not so unfair when you listen to this song. I think I read somewhere that Ian Mackaye is playing guitar on this track, which perhaps marks his first and only major label appearance. Way to sell out, Ian!

I remember stagediving at a school social to this song, hitting the air just as the chorus kicked in. Not bad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

We Like To Party.

Cuz Bro was riding home from Revolver at some ungodly hour of the morning, pinging out of his mind, when he saw some flashing lights out of the corner of his eye. He wasn't wearing a helmet, didn't have any lights, and was riding a bike without one legal workable brake. So he did what anyone else would've done in that situation - you know, if their brain was sufficiently addled by a volatile mix of party drugs. He hit the gas.

Of course, the difference between Cuz Bro and most people is that Cuz was a hell of a cyclist. He even won the Metros one year. The only thing stopping him from being a more successful cyclist was his tendency to crash. This also turned out to be the only thing stopping him from being a more successful getaway artist. The cops drew up beside him and motioned for him to stop. Cuz didn't agree with their suggestion, and hit the anchors, thinking that he'd swerve behind them and duck down an adjoining street. However, as soon as the cops saw him apply whatever braking power he could muster, they too hit the middle pedal, and started skidding to a stop. The two skids combined to make the picture above, which I was somehow credited with, but which I think was actually taken by Cuz himself.

The story doesn't stop there, however. Firstly, when asked where the brakes were on his bike, Cuz informed the officers that it was a special bike that had brakes in the bottom bracket. They seemed to buy it. The officers then inquired why Cuz hadn't stopped when he had seen the flashing blue and red lights. Cuz told the obviously confused and bewildered gentlemen of the law that he had not realized that those lights had belonged to a police car, and thought it was just a continuation of the party he had just left at Revs.

And then, in case the cops were still in any doubt as to his mental state, he started dancing.

Yeah, he got all the fines. Except for no brakes. They did buy that. Somehow.

In The Gutter.

So.  While we here at Heavy Metal Monday were racing our bike out in the Otways in the Great Ocean Road Classic team time trial handicap (otherwise known as the alleycat for dentists), real cyclists were racing the Melbourne to Warnambool.

This happens every year after the Warny comes and goes.  I look at all the photos, all the pain faces, listen to all the people who tell me it's shit, always resolving to give it a crack one year.

Thus, it's decided.  

Next year, FJ is going to race the Warny.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

All The White Horses.

No money was received for the epic picture at the start of today's thread. In fact, Gene just tore that logo off his legwarmers, and then faithfully reconstructed it for my instagramming enjoyment. So, this installment of the Friday is brought to you not by the good folks at RaphaTM, but by Gene. Whose trademarks are not registered. Whose rights are not reserved.

Hey, first of all, this Saturday is the Warny! I reckon at least ten cyclists you know are having a crack at the 260ks, and about half of them are going to finish. The day after that is the Shipwreck Coast Classic, the famous race in which Gene allegedly once beat Nathan Haas. Sure, rumour has it that Haasy was drunk at the time, but you know, a win's a win.

My new favourite Melbourne band Ratsak are playing a bunch of shows in the next few months, starting with this one at the Old Bar. Yep, that's Grover singing again. I bet he's still just as intimidating to watch live as when he was in Paul of Blood. Jeez, it took some serious internetting to find any information on that particular band.

In other news, the day of the Fixed.Org Show N Shine is fast upon us, so if you've got a bike that looks a bit schmick, get out the WD40, polish that baby up, then bring it on down to the Electron Workshop to show off to all your friends. You could win some sweet prizes. More information, perhaps obviously, is available on Fixed.Org here.

And hey, before that, not this Sunday but the next, there's another edition of the Melbourne Gravel Grinders. You know, I might actually go on this one. A nice ride in the country would suit me right down to the ground at the moment. I guess it depends on whether or not I can convince the Revolution to loan me a sweet Yeti CX bike. Not that I'd need it - they're all roads, remember, so you could ride your road bike - but you know, a little extra comfort occasionally goes a long way.

In other racing related news, Northcote Cycling Club - who are actually pretty good at Facebook, with the results pretty much going up as they come in - are doing this crazy awesome Omnivember event throughout November, with ten events over five days. I have no idea what the ten events could be. I mean, I'm pretty good at imagining, but I only get to eight or nine. Eitherway, it promises to be shitloads of fun. Check it out here.

And, that's about all I've got for now. Have a good weekend!


Could I Have Hit The Nail Much Harder On The Head?

Oh man, I really could not give a flying fuck about the whole Lance Armstrong doping case that everyone - even the mainstream media - is talking about right now. I mean, for one reason, Brynne: My Bedazzled Life is currently on TV, and that's more interesting. Paul Licuria is on it and hot damn that man is a babe. I can almost forgive him for playing for Collingwood he's so fucking handsome. No one - I repeat, no one - in the Reasoned Decision document is as good looking as him (even if Michael Barry comes close, in a rough night, overlook the hair kinda way), and as such, my interest is already on the wane.

And then, you know, I had to go to work. And today we had students for the first time this term. They were all uncertain and trying to get to know each other and a little silly and show-off-y. We were all flat out flat out. I didn't even have time to check, let alone read two hundred and two pages of legal documents. Man, I even got bored typing out the number just then.

And also, I've been really clumsy lately. I always thought I was kinda graceful - at least, ever since Alanna Rudolf told me that I was when she saw me rollerblading in year 12. My hand-eye co-ordination is pretty good (if Super Mario Brothers is any indication); I can mark a footy ok and rip out one hell of a slapshot and learn any variety of dance move, if given enough time; I can use any variety of dining implements. But lately I've been all over the freaking shop - the other day, for instance, I was holding an open packet of icing sugar, and it simply slipped out of my hands. I have no idea how - one minute I was holding it, the next minute:

And that's just the most aesthetically hilarious example. The last few months I've been bumping into things, knocking things over, making messes everywhere. It's kinda ridiculous, and, furthermore, kinda embarrassing. I have no idea what the hell is going on, but whatever the hell is, it's way more interesting than Lance Armstrong doping case. Because, you know, even if it is embarrassing, it's kinda funny, if not to me, then definitely to everyone else around. Those USADA lawyers should really have included some jokes.

But you know, the real reason that the Lance Armstrong doping case holds about as much interest for me as an impassioned debate in a 1994 issue of HeartattaCk zine about Jawbreaker selling out is that it just doesn't fucking make any difference to me whatsoever. There's about fifty people in the entire world whose lives will be in some way different after this case is all done and dusted, and they have every right to be all up in arms, feel angry or betrayed or upset. But surely for the rest of us the interest is purely academic - any emotional reaction seems weird and a little misplaced. The guy may have cheated, and he might get busted for it, but so what? There are babes on TV, work is busy, and lately I've been tripping over my own feet as if I'm Buster fucking Keaton. Spend your time checking that shit out instead.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spent Fifteen Years.

I was probably fourteen or fifteen when Petie Hyde handed me a tape with White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean on one side and How To Clean Everything on the other. Up to that point I'd been wasting my time listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and other terrible remnants of the grunge era, probably moping around and thinking how much life was, you know, like, a total bummer. But as soon as I put that tape into the deck, things were different.

I mean, all of a sudden I was confronted with music that I could run around and dance like an idiot to, but that also reflected my nascent politics. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that on more than one occasion I jumped around the year 11 form room to the song above, having been asked to leave the classroom by some teacher who was totally trying to oppress me.

Jamie Delley once pulled up into the driveway of my parents' house with this song absolutely blasting at definite-earbleed level from his car. I was late for school, and didn't hesitate to jump in, my head right next to the speaker in the backseat. The last few days my ears have been ringing uncontrollably. You do the math.

Lest you think I only listened to the "cool" punk pop from the "good" folks at Fat Wreck Chords, I'm confessing to not minding this song at all. In fact, I definitely remember being at parties and scowling in the corner at the terrible music and country bogans until someone left the stereo unattended long enough for me or someone else to sneak a tape into the deck, already cued up to blast this song out.

And, you know, this one too.

Contrary to popular belief, punk pop didn't die out altogether. I saw this band when I lived in Montreal. I'd gone along to see the Ste Catherines play, but were way more impressed by the support band. Only the other day did I discover that the singer used to be in Kid Dynamite. Then it all made sense.

I don't think I'm the only one who grew up with punk pop, and I definitely don't think I'm the only one who occasionally feels nostalgic about it now, so it makes sense that fucking rad people are starting to make it again. The above is one of the better examples, but I also can't let a conversation about punk pop go by without mentioning bringing up this band:

Sure, both the audio and video are terrible in this clip, but this more than any other song has shaped all of my present day ideas about living and how to best do it. So if you want a proper listen sometime, come over for a cup of tea and we'll listen to the seven inch until the damn thing wears out. Or, you know, make your own cup of tea and listen to it on myspace. Hey, apparently that's still a thing! Good for you, myspace.