Thursday, December 31, 2009

And So This Is.

Christmas Carnivals: A Summary.

Day Zero - Boxing Day.

Nath, Casey and I pack everything into my mama's Astra and head up to Stawell, with the idea that a night there in my parent's care will leave us refreshed for the Horsham Carnival the next day. In Ballarat the Christmas spirit is still lingering, which mostly means it is difficult to find food. The restaurant application on Casey's phone directs us to a Thai place. It is not the first time that the good people of the Apple Corporation will save us over the next four days. We arrive in Stawell around 9, watch some 30 Rock on DVD and head to bed.

Day One - Horsham.

After the mandatory stop at the Giant Koala we made it to Horsham unscathed. Food was again difficult to locate - a choice between The Fig Tree Caffe (the misspelling is not mine) and Waack's Bakery (the misspelling is indicative of quality). I'd seen a copy of the Wimmera Mail-Times on Christmas day and knew that I had been placed in C grade with a kid I occasionally race against at DISC - Matt Lees. We figured we could 1-2 most of the scratch races, and roll turns together to get through the handicap heats. This is pretty much how it worked out. We may have gone a little hard in our heat, however, as both of us needed a little private vomit time afterwards, and weren't able to do anything special in the final. Our little Brunswick / Hawthorn posse was more successful here though, with Stu Vaughn taking it out, followed by Ewin Williams and a mate from Creswick, Scott Keating (both of whom had told me they were feeling pretty average during the warm-up). It was hot, sure, but nothing compared to the days to come.

Day Two - Maryborough.

The Maryborough Carnival traditionally ends with a Madison, and much of the early talk was about who would partner up with who. I was in salvage mode by this stage, only really thinking about how best to survive the whole tour and still win the occasional race. Rumours were starting to float around about how hot it was going to be in Shepparton, and I was already beginning to rule that entire day out in my head. Still, Ewin was keen to do it, and I'd done Madison training with him before, so the option was there. When the first race turned out to be a bit harder work than I'd counted on, however, I ruled it out. It turned out to be the right decision.

Dale Parker was over from South Australia, and pretty much showed the entire A grade field what it meant to represent your country. The boy took off the front in each race and didn't look back. He partnered up with Danny Clark for the Madison. I'd never heard of Clark before Maryborough, but you know if they put the letters OBE after your name for services to cycling, you've done something pretty important. The guy was awesome to watch - spinning through both B grade and the Madison on an 88 inch gear, emerging triumphant in both. Not bad for a bloke of fifty-five.

The first serious crashes occurred in Maryborough, however. The first was in the junior girls, the second in the Madison. The latter involved my mate Cam Woolcock, who can now state that he has ridden in two Madisons and crashed in both. This one he ended up laying on the track. Some kind of emergency staff moved him straightaway - not the brightest idea, but I suppose still better than being run over. Not much of the crash was handled well - a red flag came out for riders to move around the accident, but very few did until they were threatened with fines for hitting the flag. Clark and Parker had pretty much claimed the race as their own when the crash occurred, so it was kinda disappointing to see riders disrespecting a peer like this. It left a pretty bad taste in our mouths as we packed up and drove over to Bendigo.

Day Three - Bendigo.

I love the Bendigo track, love racing in Bendigo and even kinda love the town itself. We were staying at my sister's place about twenty minutes drive out of town. She and her husband and my new niece were down at the beach somewhere, so we had the house to ourselves. This was kinda a godsend, as it meant we were able to stretch out, make a mess and spend most of the day watching 30 Rock.

We drive into Bendigo a little early. The Bonsoy Scare is in full effect and it is making a decent Soya Latte hard to locate. We rustle one up from a place that stinks like fish sauce, but either it or my poor humour makes Casey throw up and me feel flat for the rest of the day. Nath slips on a step and inflames an old shoulder injury. We bump into a few mates from Bendigo as we walk around, and all of them present us with different plans for how to win the handicap that night. Apparently there's nine hundred dollars up for grabs. I don't tell any of them that I'm saving myself for the scratch races, and perhaps the frontmarker's handicap.

When the night itself comes around things pretty much pan out how they are supposed to. Glen O'Shea makes an appearance - this is his local track, after all - and makes life a little more difficult for Dale Parker. I win both my scratch races - without the help of Matty Lees this time, as he had been bumped up a grade. I die in the main handicap but make it through to the final of the frontmarker's.

Here's where things got a little confusing. I owed Matt a few leadouts from Horsham and Maryborough, so volunteered to take off with one and a half to go, in the hope that he would go around me and take out the win. He, however, had made a similar deal with Scott Townsend, who eventually won it for himself. I wasn't aware of this, and decided that it would not be in my best interests to make deals with Matt in the future. All would be forgiven, however, as I had decided by this point not to race Shep - my hip flexors were starting to complain quite loudly that I'd alread done too much in the last three days. Plus, it would be hot, and not racing would allow me some quality heckling time. We drove back out to my sister's and let Tina Fey entertain us some more.

Day Four - Shepparton.

Shep wasn't due to start til around 3.30, so we were able to spend some time in Bendigo before driving over. Here we discovered yet another reason to love Bendigo - Lady Sultan's Turkish Restaurant. A combination Turkish Bakery and Felafel place. Everything was so fresh, and the bakery smell so delicious that you could almost eat the air. We had little hope for eating in Shep, despite the knowledge of a strong Middle-Eastern community there, so stocked up here.

Even at that time of the morning it was bloody hot. Searing. The digital display on the dashboard read 41 degrees, and didn't change as we drove into the Goulburn Valley. I handed in my numbers and watched other folk go around. Jess Morgan was finally placed in a grade of her equals and took a win. Matty spent a lot of time off the front and got good announcer airtime. Nath was issued an apology from the same announcer, who had previously made fun of his compression socks. Nath didn't seem too bothered, but was also quite happy with the increased airtime. I was told that I had probably shot myself in the foot by not racing, with regards to the Jayco Aggregate, but wasn't too fussed. And I was even less fussed when the Frontmarker's Scratch race ended in a fucking huge crash.

It happened pretty much exactly where I would've been - middle of the pack with about seven or eight laps to go. Someone touched wheels and someone went down, taking a whole bunch of others with them. A picture from the Shepparton News shows Nath and Matty on the ground, tangled up with someone else. A bike is flying through the air behind them. Nath's bike is underneath him - he was holding on to the bars and pedalling, just as you are supposed to, right to the very end. What you can't see in the picture is the moans coming from Matty, or the quite pain of the kid next to him. Nath gets up and we patch up his grazes, waiting for the ambulances to come get Matt and two others. Casey and Matilda Vaughn set up a triage under the Brunswick tent and are bandaging up a bunch of different blokes, using whatever they can find in the well out-of-date first aid kit. I think some guy got eyepatches instead of gauze. The ambulances come and Matty gets some morphine. The kid has never been a quiet type, and the morphine makes him even chattier. He compares the Morgan sisters and asks Jess to marry him. Later, in the hospital, he will be asked if he has ever had surgery, and will reply, "Only the Caesarian I had when I was pregnant." His dad seems calm, telling Casey that when you play sport, this is what happens, with a resigned shrug of his shoulders. Nath is edgy from the adreniline, and most of the riders seem to have gone home, so we help folks pack up the tent and head home.

In some shitty service centre I buy a three-cd best of Bruce Springsteen. At this point I was thinking of taking a month off, a plan that has now been ixnayed by my coach. But I'm pretty relaxed eitherway. Casey seems happy to be heading home - four days of sun and dust and very average eating habits have made her tired, and perhaps a touch over running around purchasing Powerade for her boyfriend. Nath is in the back of the car, trying to deal with the new injuries he has accumulated, the latest in a long line. It's not the most triumphant of returns. The city comes into view and we start talking again, figuring out our New Year's Eve plans and returning, gradually, to our regular lives.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Mechanics Of The State.

I competed in the Victorian Track Championships this weekend, in the Kilo and the Sprints. The Kilo was on Saturday. There were 14 entrants. 10 of us were from Victoria. A lot of serious folks weren't there. I did it in 1.14.04, which was about ten seconds off the podium, but still a long way from last. Without looking at the results, I'd say that I ended up being sixth or seventh in the state. That's a bit ridiculous.

The ridiculousness continued in the Sprints this morning. There were 12 entrants. 4 of us were from Victoria. The rest were from the US, New Zealand or the Malaysian national team. We had to qualify by doing a flying 200. I set a PB (12.04) but was a bit pissed off that I didn't break 12 seconds. After qualifying was done we sat down and waited to see who would be riding the Sprints. It was a bit of a surprise to see that at the Victorian Track Championships there were no Victorians riding at all. Not one. In fact, Gideon Massie from the US won the Gold Medal for Victorian Sprint Champion. He must've been confused. I know I was a bit confused when I discovered that I had set the second fastest time by a Victorian.

Cyclesport Victoria, you know my address. I expect my medal in the next few days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Burn BaBaBa Burn, Burn The Fucking Flag.

Australian Madison Championships are on tonight at DISC, and I'm in a heckling mood.

Possible subjects to address:

Cam Meyer - he's 21. Why hasn't puberty struck yet? And why the fuck are he and Glen O'Shea riding for Brunettis? They're not middle aged men with beer guts! In fact, Cam Meyer probably weighs as much as one of those beer guts. Maybe inside every single one of those beer guts there's a Cam Meyer, just waiting to be born.

Bogans in cycling: Where did they come from (New Zealand?) and will they show us their Southern Cross tattoos?

Graeme Brown: Exactly what size are his crankypants, does he get them tailormade and can i borrow them?

And finally, I also intend to refer to everyone as 'Lance', and ask them if they're going to ride the Tour de France. The only problem with this is a handful of them will say 'yes', and not be lying. That won't be as funny.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two Sides To Every Story.

The Drags have come and gone. Usually, after an event, I write a long and drawn out race report, but this time I figure it's better to let the pictures tell the story.




1st - The JAMS
2nd - Chamazing
3rd - Tank J

Fastest qualifier - Heatseeker (16.94 over 200m, from a standing start)

Best Dressed - Shifterdan and Blue Nightie Steve

Prize for taking the most rubbish home - LAM

Thanks heaps to Shannon and Mike from Knog, Jona from Supreme, Rahne and Coopz for waving flags and Blakey Britney for handicapping and Nik Cee for being his usual awesome Nik Cee self.

More pics available here, here and here.

Blog review by people other than me available here and here. The latter I kinda love. It's always interesting to see how we're perceived from the outside.

Apparently we're a little strange.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tell Him It Will Be Alright.

I'm old - 30 years old, to be exact - and as such my body can't take the same beating it used to when I was 15 and altogether much springier. These days I need a whole host of healthcare professionals to keep me standing upright. Here are those three men:

Scooter at Impact Massage:


Some find it ironic that a bloke with a reputation for being just a little bit grumpy at times has gone into the healing professions, but for me it just makes sense. About once a month I go to see Scooter and he makes me cry. Simple as that. Of course he likes it. But two days later I feel like I have my 15 year old body back again, and I like it too. He's a bike messenger, founder of the Cannonball Run, soigneur for various national cycling teams and not nearly as irritable as the legend suggests. He also has excellent taste in music - I'll take Studio One classics over Greatest Hits of Running Through The Rainforest any day, thank you.

Dom at First Place Osteo:


That's Dom over there on the right, working on someone from the Rapha Condor team. A bloke who was recommended on Andy's Site once upon a time, but whose palarmes stretch much further than that. He's worked on a variety of teams, is a closet Specials fan and was a decent roadie himself back in the day. He also has a bike fit studio out the back of First Place where he videos you riding your own bike, so both he and you can get a decent look at your riding position. My first stop for a bike fit, and when my back needs a crack.

Dr Andrew Garnham at Alphington Sports Medicine:


Yeah, that's him presenting at some sports medicine conference. Dom actually recommended him as the one man in the world brave enough to have a close look at my saddle sores. He not only did that, but he also procured an MRI for my dodgy knee, made sure my blood levels were solid and didn't give me a lecture when I told him I was vegan (turned out he's a vegetarian himself). The only bad thing about Andrew is that he's incredibly in demand - when he was away on the Sun Tour earlier this year I had to wait a month for an appointment. When you're good, you get that.

And that's about it. I've also started with a physio, but I've only been twice. The first time she asked if I was a model. I'll definitely go back.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All The Other Bands.

Tomorrow night:


Suburban Rhythm.

The theme for the race on Saturday was “Bogan’s Day Out,” and I’d been dressed accordingly for about an hour before Nik Cee rolled up to my house. We made some last minute preparations and headed down to Pony Bikes, flannies flapping in the breeze and thongs caught in our toestraps. Drivers seemed more wary of us than usual.

When we arrived there were some folks there already. Eventually, with the skies turning greyer by the minute, the number of riders grew to 46, including a considerable number of out of towners, bogans in full costume, noobs riding their first alleycat, and a representative from the VIS on his BT (who later decided not to ride, possibly because I told him I’d tell his coach).

After the chaos of registration riders were told to park their bikes at the Capel Street end of the alley, then taken up the other end for their briefing. A number of riders had parked their bikes assuming a quick dash out Capel Street into the city, and were sorely disappointed when informed that they would have to leave via the other exit. Sucks to be them!

The first checkpoint, where riders received their manifests, was Gate 4 at the MCG, which was once the closest entrance to the infamous Bay 13. This was the first of many bogan landmarks riders were asked to visit. Once they had their manifests riders were asked to visit, in no particular order, the following locations:

The Tote Hotel, where they were told to collect a Beer Coaster for a Bogan Beer and deliver it to the finish at Pony Bikes.

Carlton United Breweries, where they were asked to fill out a Centrelink form. McKenny at this checkpoint lived out his dole officer revenge fantasies and was very particular with his forms.

The Astor Cinema, which isn’t really a bogan landmark, but most riders went straight here from the CUB, and as such were forced to do a “Chap Lap” of Chapel Street, which, on a Saturday night, is as important to bogans as breathing. And at the Astor they had to yell out a bogan insult. Poor Blakey at this Checkpoint copped it pretty hard, but made up for it by demanding the manager of the Astor hand over his manifest before going inside.

Pit Lane at the Albert Park, where they were asked to do a skid. Apparently the Corporate Games were also taking place at this checkpoint, which made the traffic interesting.

Spearmint Rhino Men’s Club in King Street, where they were asked to sing a bogan song (Khe Sahn was a popular choice here – and most people, despite hipster moustaches, colourmatched fixies and homemade tattoos, still knew the words).

The Church opposite Swanston Maccas, where they were given temporary Southern Cross tattoos. Nik and I were a bit concerned about this checkpoint due to the constant presence of real bogans, but other than a hug from a crazy bearded lady, Casey and Magda at this checkpoint did just fine.

The first riders started trickling in about an hour and twenty minutes after being sent on their way. Cranky Sundays mainstay Chaz (aka Chamazing, Chaztastic, Viva Chaz Vegas) came home first and was slightly bewildered to discover this was the case. His buddy Jason followed his wheel all the way into second place, his blonde mullet resplendent in the southerly breeze. Brisbane rider Gypsy had been advised to chase Jay and Coopz around town, in order to not get lost, and managed to do this and more, claiming first out-of-towner and third overall (relegating Jay and Coopz to a bunch finish!). Teagan came in about sixteenth overall and claimed first girl, followed by Sara from Sydney and the ever-irrepressible Megz, who also claimed best stack. She didn’t stack at all, but a bout of food poisoning the week previous had left her stomach slightly unsettled, and she was given this prize for vomiting on a car. First noob went to Scott, who swore he’d be back for more, and DFL went to Caff, who was very excited about her almost new, only slightly soiled Australian Cycling Team cap.

Best outfit was hotly contested, with a number of mullets, cut off denim jackets, Frenzal Rhomb T-shirts, footy jumpers and Australian Flags decorating the peleton. Eventually, however, the prize went to Max, who rocked up to the start with his own southern cross tattoo, a blacked out tooth, a well-worn wifebeater and the matching Collingwood beanie and scarf set, but by the end of the race had somehow also accumulated a Taco Bill Sombrero, a cask of goon and some poor woman’s actual dole form. I guess she won’t be getting her payment this week.

All prize winners were told to pick one item from a large selection of swag, with podium finishers also rewarded with some cold hard cash. The exceptions to this rule were 1st overall, who was given a B43 wheelset from Velocity, and DFL, who received the aforementioned cap from the bottom of Nik’s cupboard. When the prizes went down to about 10th overall Nik and I started throwing stuff out into the crowd. Special thanks here should go to Coffee Supreme, who wrapped up their prizes in Hessian bags so they looked like Coffee. Nik threw them into the receptive audience, where they were later revealed to be some sweet swag from Charge, including a saddle and some forks. Tricky!

Special thanks should also go to the rain for holding out until we’d finished; Sasha from Pony Bikes for hosting and giving so much to her adopted city in such a short time – Sydney’s loss has been our gain; Ilana from the Bike Film Festival for arranging a bunch of the prizes, organizing a bunch of the shenanigans that took place at Pony that day, co-ordinating the volunteers and generally running around being efficient; Velocity for the wheelset; Gypsy from Brisbane for bringing down swag from Brisbane Outdoor Gear and Gear Brisbane, which are two different shops, duh; Spray Ya Bike for an appropriate Best Outfit prize; Coffee Benny Tatts from Genovese Coffee for being extremely generous with the caffeine; Jona Gunn at Coffee Supreme for being tricky; Natasha at Crumpler for always, always supporting the scene; Knog for doing the same, even if Mike told Facebook he was going to ride and then didn’t; Jamie from Skin Grows Back for making the best courier gear around and always being willing to share it with muppets putting on alleycats; The Freedom Machine for giving Sasha jerseys that she didn’t want; Coopers for (vegan!) Beer; DJ Hired Hands for block rocking beats; Adam O2 for doing the flyer and generally bringing the hype; Tara Jayne for printing, late night laminating anal-retentiveness and not calling me from the toilet ever again; Nik Cee for being the nicest guy in the world and finally walking away from an alleycat without winning anything; all the folks who did checkpoints, especially those who had to ride a long way to theirs; all the riders who rocked up, bust their guts blasting through traffic on a Saturday arvo, and rolled back into Pony with huge smiles on their faces; and, finally, everyone else who came down, hung out, talked shit and generally made the day as fun as hell.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Million Bucks.

This weekend:


Saturday 21st November

Ring of Fire Party @ Pony Bikes

Bogan's Day Out Alleycat - 1.30 (ten bucks to enter - bring a pen, bag and lock!)
Roller Race of Terror - 4.30
Bunnyhop Comp - sometime after that
Footdown (the people's favourite) - throughout the evening.

Pony Bikes is at 87 Capel St, West Melbourne.

Look for the signs / Follow the ruckus.

All Bikes Welcome / All Riders Welcome / All Hecklers Especially Welcome.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'll Never Be A Rock And Roll Star.

I have been informed, by reliable sources, that Mark Renshaw googled me. Sometimes I think that this whole 'cyclist of the year' thing has jumped the shark, but really, it just keeps getting funnier.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

La La La La La La La La La Means I Love You.

Conversation with Lincoln the Barista at Ray's this morning:

Brendan: I'll have two strong soy lattes, thanks. With two sugars in each.
Lincoln: Ok, sure. But are these both for you?
Brendan: Yes.
Lincoln: Oh, dude, I'm sorry.

And that nicely sums up the last - and the next - few weeks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stop Rewinding This.

HOLY CRAP I'M A FINALIST!

Please vote again for your people's choice cyclist of the year:

http://cycling.drewbytes.com.au/Peoples_Choice_finalists_2009.cfm

There’s Nothing Quite As Harmful As The Slow Moving Day.

When you start cycling you do a cost-benefit analysis, either consciously or sub-consciously. You weigh up the positives - increased fitness, healthy competition, camaraderie, fun – against the negatives – the financial cost, unhealthy competition, braggadocio, shaving rash in places it shouldn’t ever occur, chafing. Eventually you decide that it’s worth it.

And it is worth it. I’d never suggest otherwise. But there are probably some further negatives you’ve neglected to factor in. It’s only when they become pressing that you realize that you’ve overlooked them. And this weekend just gone they’ve become pressing, if not for me, then definitely for folks who I hold in high regard.

The first of these is crashes, which are common. But even though they are common, it’s important not to factor them in to your analysis. This may seem counterintuitive, as they certainly represent a gigantic flashing minus sign, but the minute you start recognizing crashing as a factor is the minute you become a very average racer. You have to ride smart, sure, and safe too – I’ll be the first one to rip you to shreds if you ride dangerously – but if you’re worrying about crashing all the time then you’re not worrying about going fast, getting through traffic or around that next corner – all the stuff that makes cycling fun.

This being said, when crashes happen they tear the guts out of every cyclist everywhere. Every one of us has crashed at some point, and we all know the pain of gravel rash, bruises, broken bones. Some of us know the pain of paralysis, intensive care units, death of loved ones. When you hear of someone you know suffering your heart goes out to them, and next time you get on the bike you hope that today won’t be the day it happens to you.

The second of these are the cops. This is a tad more controversial, but hey, if you ride alleycats cops are a problem. Such as on Friday night, when Campbell was forced to hide in a carpark for a good fifteen minutes until the cops gave up on finding him – in his Halloween outfit. Which was an extremely skimpy bikini. Or last night, when Pip found himself in the cells for four hours thanks to a party that got out of hand. I don’t think you should factor in the cops either, but rather ride like they’re not there at all. Occasionally you get fined (twice in the last month, in my case), occasionally you spend a night in prison.

So, in light of the series of totally shit incidents that have tipped the scales a little more to the negative side, I’m getting interactive. A while back Liam had a crack at explaining why we ride alleycats, but I’m going to broaden the topic a little bit and ask you, reader, why you ride. Don’t make it too long, because my attention span is short. Leave your response in the comments section. Best one wins a prize. I swear this time the prize exists.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Knowledge Tends To Democratize.

Ok, so I've been a bit serious of late, what with all the ranting and complaining and layperson's political polemic. And what better way to counterbalance that than an internet campaign to elect someone to something totally undeserved?

Vote 1, Brendan Bailey, for the Scody 2009 People's Choice Cyclist of the Year.

Because Stuart O'Grady and Cadel Evans have already won enough awards. Because the cyclist of the year shouldn't be some pro who you never see battling into the wind on the way home from work. Because I'm an aging fixie punk with bad tattoos and questionable personal hygiene. Because I like going to fancy dinners. Because "People's Choice" should mean "One of the People". And if I'm nothing else, I'm definitely a person!

You don't have to be a cyclist to vote, just an Australian resident. Nominations close this Friday.

Here's the link:

http://cycling.drewbytes.com.au/Peoples_Choice_Nomination_2009.cfm

Thanks!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm A Poor Boy Now.

People are attracted to pretty things, and that's ok. For example, I have a really nice red shirt from Ben Sherman. It's all fitted and really bright and I look totally hot in it. That's cool. I didn't, however, only buy the shirt because I look totally hot in it, although I do. The first and paramount purpose of a shirt is to cover up nakedness and, in my case a few dodgy tattoos. The secondary purpose of a shirt is probably to keep me warm. Only after these two does me looking totally hot come into the equation. If, by some strange warping of logic, my priorities became all skewed and I started valuing my appearance above everything else, well, I probably wouldn't have bought the same shirt. Or I might have, but I might have just hung it over my shoulder and walked it down the street. At any rate, all of a sudden my shirt wouldn't be about anything practical, but rather aesthetics, perhaps even at the expense of practicality.

While this epic (which should be taken here to mean "unapproved") Boski x Cinelli Collabo doesn't necessarily come at the expense of practicality (even if it doesn't have a brake), it certainly places aesthetics above all else. And apparently aesthetics are expensive indeed - the complete bike is selling for $2750, whereas some calculations I pulled out of my butt has the parts/frame coming to about $1700. That's a cool thousand dollars to have different coloured letters on the frame.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't care if you want to make your bike look pretty, and nor do I care if you spend a lot of unnecessary money on it. I do, however, start to upchuck a little bit when you talk more about how your bike looks - or what parts are on it - than you actually ride it. And this Collabo seems to be placing the emphasis firmly on the former. No, here we have a bike as an object to be consumed visually, rather than ridden.

I know that these kinds of things are "dropping" daily, and that this particular bastardization shouldn't bother me any more than a stroll through fixed gear gallery. But it does. And I think that's mostly because it's happening here, where I live. And I can tell you now that Boski has never supported any underground cycling events in this town. Hell, I quickly scanned through the one hundred and eleven people who told facebook they're attending and I think I've only ever seen five or six of them out riding. I've certainly only ever seen a couple of them at events. Like the people who listen to Blink 182 and tell people they're into punk, these folks seem to be into cycling without the jagged edges, taking the easily consumed parts of the culture but refusing to give anything back, even by way of participation.

So, here's what I propose. On the 7th of November, at 1pm - the same day and time as the launch of this abomination - get your friends together and go for a ride. Head out of town - you can take the Merri Creek bike path all the way to the Ring Road bike path, for example, and then join up to the Craigieburn bike path. There's a nice bakery in Craigieburn where you could stock up on carbs before heading back the way you came. It's about 60ks all up. There won't be any free beer, of course, and no one will win a set of Deep Vs. It may, however, be a really nice day. Leave a comment if you need a map.

I Don't Owe Him Nothing.

It might sound kinda dorky, but on a day like today, when the sun is out and there's a southerly blowing, there's not much I like to do more than sit at Tre Bicchieri and watch people ride their bikes up Rathdowne Street. A nice big bike lane, a tailwind and bare arms feeling the springtime warmth. A coffee, a comfy chair and waitresses who know what you drink. That's a good day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Don't Want A Bigger Piece Of The Pie. We Want A Different Pie.

The Sugarspokes crew mentioned on the internet the other day that they were going to head down to the Harrison Street Velodrome on their weekly ride. I knew I'd be in the neighbourhood and so volunteered to show them around. Despite my incorrect genitalia they took me up on my offer and rolled up at around seven last night, looking nervous as hell but equally keen.

I'd made some vague plans about various activities, but really, when you've not been out on the track before the best thing you can do to familiarise yourself is just to roll around until you feel comfortable. So that's pretty much what happened. After a while I suggested they form a paceline, and they did that for a few laps, then a couple of them had a crack at flying 200s (apologies are due to Hillary here, as she took the best line and really hit it hard, but the stupid timekeeper forgot to start the stopwatch). Nothing too exciting, but their enthusiasm was infectious, and I had an awesome time.

Tara is back in town and was rolling around with them. Before she left the country she'd been pretty burned by the bike scene around these parts, but earlier in the day she had texted me about the Sugarspokes ride. "I got back from the states," she wrote, "and everything is more positive. It's turned my views on it all around!"

I wrote a few weeks back about training there, and about how the sitting around sharing battle stories and talking shit was as important as the training. Nik Cee commented something similar when I quoted Liam about Alleycats. But this only works if you've established a community of equals, whose experiences are similar to yours, whose stories mesh with your own. This community was lacking for women cyclists, but instead of continuing to feel marginalised as individuals (or worse, hanging up their bikes altogether), these women got together and created something new and awesome. Something that seems to be growing by the week, in numbers and in heart. Something that is gradually altering the status quo of cycling, and is fucking fun to boot.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Understood.

It's no secret that when it comes to design, I'm no Picasso. Hell, I'm barely even a cut-rate Kandinsky. Which is why I'm opening up this opportunity to the general public, rather than battling it myself.

Brunswick Cycling Club are having an A grade Keirin night on the 24th of November. It will be excellent. But it needs a poster. And I thought that some of the more skilled design heads out there might like to have a crack at it.

Necessary info is:
Brunswick Cycling Club presents
A Grade Keirin Night
24th November, 7.30.
Darebin Indoor Sports Centre.
For more info email: secretary@brunswickcyclingclub.com

Themes are up to you, but it's Keirin racing, so Japanese style would suit.

I need design ideas by next Tuesday, when I will present them to the race committee, who will then choose their favourites. The winner will be subjected to the xbbx hype machine, which basically means flogging it on here, various bike forums and Facebook.

Email your finished product to brendanrocks@hotmail.com

Thanks!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit.


Sunday turned out nice and clear, which was nice for the Hi-Vis Muppets tackling the Around the Bay in a Day, but didn't really affect those who rocked up to Rock - N - Roller Racing at the East Brunswick Club. The field grew to the limit of 32 riders pretty early on, and boasted a number of former roller racing champions in its midst. Competition was bound to be fierce.

The Cranky Sundays crew rolled up early to get some experience on the rollers, with a number of them looking a little worried about the lack of bolt-down forks. After a couple of minutes each, being held by Brunswick Cycling Club stalwarts Philthy and Greg (as well as a couple of pints of dutch courage), those worries disappeared into the wind. All day long, with a considerable number of newbies involved, there was only one person to fall off, and that was Andy "Track Cunt" White, who really shouldn't have, given he has his own set of rollers at home.


Being early birds worked out well for some of them, but less well for the underage members of their posse. Next time they'll know to bring their mums or dads - which, incidentally, was the advice followed by Nik Cee, even though he's almost thirty.

Riding proper started with flying 200s, to establish handicaps for the later rounds. Proper velodrome experience proved to be the difference here, with the first five places all being taken by Brunswick Cycling Club members. A notable exception was Crankies Member Ryan G, who was perhaps driven to his cracking time of 9.25 seconds by his choice in music. Murray McKenny didn't go quite as well, possibly because he chose the Benny Hill theme song.

The commissaires retired for a break after qualifying to figure out handicaps. The crowd were reminded at this point that the handicappers could be bribed with brownies. Only one rider came through with the goods, however - Team Handsome member Ben Ladner.

Match sprinting was next - evenly matched riders, without handicaps, over one lap. And the riders were definitely evenly matched, with a number of races being decided by less than half a tyre. Shannon Wuoti showed some early form here though, taking out Jamie "The Jams" with ease. Latecomer Blane also showed some skills, having scored Pip's place when he retired early.

A call went out at this point for riders willing to tackle the Brunswick Challenge. A hundred dollars was up for grabs for the rider who did the furthest distance on the rollers in one minute. After some creative and helpful heckling this was later split into two, in order to create a women's division. Anyone, regardless of gender, who reached 1600 metres would score a further hundred bucks as part of the Chooka Challenge. Coffee Ben had an early crack, but his mark only lasted until TC hit the imposing distance of 1175m.

Round Three was handicapped racing, and it was here that Philthy - and all of those who rode his bike - showed the benefit of having 98 gear inches. Campbell, fresh from coming 7th in the national Scott 24hour mountain bike endurance thing (and qualifying for the worlds!), busted a gut here to take out his good mate Jerome. Lano also had arrived late - with Safa in tow - and he had a crack here, but without a decent warmup couldn't quite do enough to make the finals.

A second call went out for the Brunswick Challenge, and a few more beers into the afternoon there were more takers. The creation of a girl's division set some female hearts a'racing. Megz was first to step up, setting the ultimately unbeatable distance of 975 metres. But she was given a run for her money by Sabrina, who had braved the commuter crowds and done the 100k version of the Around the Bay in a Day that morning.

The boys then stepped up and began to hurt themselves. Despite a broken collarbone Safa had a red hot go, but was let down by wobbles on the rollers. Chris Hickey brought his road bike out and made it to 1160m - still not enough to take down TC's winning mark. Brunswick Vice-President and Rock N Roller Racing Chief Commissaire NDF looked smoother than George Clooney on the rollers but only made the distance of 1110m. Andy was looking pretty pleased with himself until the endurance specialist stepped up.


And then, having ridden 1190m in one minute, sat back down.


Finals were up next, over two laps, with Megan racing Jamie For Jams for 3rd, and Shannon Wuoti and Ben "Brother Handsome" Ladner facing off for First Place. Jamie gave Megan 50 metres start, but was able to overcome it, his pink'd up Pista metaphorically whizzing past Megan's roadie in a dazzling display of hipster colour co-ordination.

The grand finale was upon us. Brother Handsome donned a Brunswick Cyling Club vest and 93 years of tradition. Shannon flexed his guns and felt confident about his 150m head start. Wu-Tang Clan blasted over the speakers and they hit it. Hard. Brother Handsome had half his catching up to do completed by in the first 200 metres, but took a lot longer to complete the other half. Both riders were smooth and fast. When Ben caught up with 100 to go Shannon stuck on that wheel for a while, but ultimately got dropped and was relegated to second place. Ladner took out first, in a rare victory for Team Handsome, and possibly a less rare victory for the persuasive power of brownies.

Real results are available here.

Thanks especially to Brunswick Cycling Club for providing the rollers and being my favourites, Ray's Bikes for excellent prizes that I wished I could've won, Cycle Underground for their continuing sponsorship - even if no-one ever claims their prizes, Nath for rocking up late but instructing us not to touch anything til he got there (and commissairing), Nik Cee for helping with the hype, Chris Hickey and Blakey for helping set up, Dave for commissairing and being an easily identifiable rego desk, Philthy and Greg for both holding riders and sharing their bikes, Kody and Mel from the East Brunswick Club for being most excellent hosts, my housemate Leith for letting me borrow his car for the millionth time, and anyone who rode, took photos, yelled, heckled, rocked up and sat up the back looking bemused, or just came along had a good time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who The Hell Is That? Why The Fuck Should I Care?

From Liam, who by all accounts put on a totally killer alleycat last week, and who comes closer to describing why we race alleycats than anyone else I've read. He also quotes me. Enjoy the circle jerk, readers!

"Where and Why
Sometime in mid 2006 a bike activism related uni project encouraged me to research urban cycling.
At the time 'fixie' culture hadn't hit its straps anywhere yet, but it was well on the way. The internet was my portal to this underground obsession, in particular fixed.org.au.
I was enchanted and captured by the helmet-cam videos of one NY'er Lucas Brunelle. It opened me up to a world where traffic and city streets became a sports field where incredible feats of skill and athleticism played out.
Alleycat races are traditionally the distillation of the day of a messenger/cycle courier into a fast paced race between many checkpoints simulating the pick ups of deliveries where a manifest is marked instead of a parcel.
The races generally last for 40 minutes for the fastest riders, who tend to be experienced messengers exhibiting disregard for traffic laws, manners and normal rider ethics :).
For most participants the chase is its own reward.
The pure animal thrill of entering an intersection at top speed, against the flow of traffic, and threading through moving cars with 3 other riders on your tail is not something to be lightly enjoyed, yet not easily forgotten.
If you do it right it takes till you reach the other side of the intersection for the drivers to react, an unstartled driver is a predictable one.
Brendan sums it up best with his observations.
At its very best "weaving impossible lines and creating space from nothing" is what it's about, and never has the chestnut "it's about the journey, not the destination" been more accurate, (particularly in my case seeing as I never seem to win anything..)"

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Nina, The Pinta, The Santa Maria.

Like a lot of things, cycling is at its best when you're with a bunch of mates and none of you are taking it all that seriously. It's when you start to take it seriously that things get complicated. Lately I've been taking it seriously. And today things got a little complicated. I don't know enough about the politics - sitting around listening to blokes spin shit only jacks you in so far - but I do know that some fucking irritating and potentially impossible changes are about to happen to my plans for my immediate cycling future. And I also get the impression that my coach - who I've come to both like and respect quite a lot - is not responsible. No, it seems that the worst things about my profession - bureaucrats and administration and the allocation (or collection) of meager resources - also plague my passion. I'd been able to avoid it - and the accompanying meetings - almost completely til now. But like a shaving cut, it's just when you think you've avoided the pain that the blood starts flowing.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Taken By Surprise.

Mostly I go out and do my weekly road miles by myself, with only my ipod for company. It's pretty good company, with long-forgotten records and occasional French lessons able to keep me entertained for hours. But sometimes cycling solo can be drudgery - you have to drag yourself out. So every now and then it's nice to head out with a bunch, especially if that bunch is pretty equal in terms of ability. Even if you don't talk much, it makes life a lot more pleasant to roll turns, chase people up hills, stop for coffee. It makes you remember why you love this, this stupid life that no one outside cycling gives a shit about. It makes you come home with a smile on your face.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Songs They Never Taught You At School.

I'm biting off more than I can chew again here, trying to put into words something I've not even really able to grasp yet. Sometimes, though, you gotta plow on regardless, in the hope that somewhere amongst all the waffling uncertainty there might be a word or phrase or idea that sticks.

When I first started training with Alf Walker at the Harrison Street Velodrome I quickly realised that it wasn't all about doing tempo work or whistle sprints. Sitting around afterwards was just as important. Alf would always be in a good mood after watching us suffer for a couple of hours, and the stories would start coming out. About how blokes used to ride their track bikes for training down on Beach Road, back in the fifties. About riding the tandem on the Essendon Track and rolling a tire. About eating ice-cream sandwiches on the way home from training at the very same track I'd been busting my gut around.

Ewin Williams would come down and train with us every now and then. He was - and still is - freaking fit, but had been around a bit too. His stories were a bit more recent, but equally hilarious. Perched on the benches, listening to the stories going back and forth was like having the history injected straight into my veins. I was new to the game then - and, let's face it, still am - and all of this felt big, heavy and somehow important. It left me with the impression that when I stepped out on to the track I wasn't just some muppet doing laps, even if that was actually the case. No, instead it made me feel like I was part of a continuum, a long line of athletes who had suffered, crashed and occasionally been brilliant before me. As if somewhere in the future I'd be a character in the story, that I'd be mixed up in the combination of history and myth that forms the narrative of cycling in Brunswick.

None of this sounds like a big deal - and I guess it isn't really - but I guess all I'm saying is that it's nice to be a part of something. And a vague feeling that all this history and tradition is to be respected. Even if it does mean that members of Northcote hate us for being Brunswick.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Battle Hymn To Celebrate.

This article rules precisely because it places the responsibility to act (or not, as the case may be) exactly where it should be: on men. And also because it's kinda funny.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Can't Get No.

Something About You, Girl.

Well I'll be. This American Cyclist is now US women's omnium champion, as well as being fortunate enough to be one of my friends on facebook. Nice work, Cari.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Consumption And Brutality.

I first met Lissa Greenspoon when she and I worked for Open Door Books in Montreal. We'd sit at the big table out the back of QPIRG and talk shit, reading letters from prisoners across the United States and wrapping up the books they requested. Someone obviously took them out to the mailing room, but I never knew who.

She was a bike messenger and eventually scored me a job doing the same. I worked for Intelcom, who only had a position available because one of their messengers had been killed by a car the week before. I didn't last too long - when it started snowing I quit - but in that time Lissa told me one thing that I remember every time I'm riding home at commuter hour. She said that any time she rode past a guy, that guy would always, without fail, start hitting it as hard as he could, in an attempt to not be beaten by a girl.

She told me this as we were riding down Ste Catherine. A couple of seconds later she was called up on a job and disappeared into the traffic. She was one of the smartest riders I ever knew, and could give drivers lip in three different languages. If she lived in Melbourne, my money would be on her for the Girls Alleycat coming up in October. But that's not really the point of this post. No, the point here has more to do with guys being stupid, chauvinistic, misogynist assholes.

Every night I see guys breaking their asses trying to destroy the rider on the hybrid in front of them - there's nothing unusual about that - but I also occasionally see them ripping it twice as hard to overtake some female rider, then chopping into her just to prove how hard they are. I don't really get it. But I do get why women are starting to organize their own stuff - rides, alleycats, bike fixing teach-ins. I totally, totally get it. It kinda implicates me as part of the problem, but that's ok. If i'm being honest I probably am.

Sexism isn't something that can be defeated, conquered, beaten up and left to die (or even smashed...). It's something we have to work on constantly. Occasionally I - like everyone else - slip up and done something dumb, say something stupid and demeaning, or don't give someone sufficient credit because of their gender. The important part is that we acknowledge these fuckups, do what we can to make them right, then continue to work at eliminating sexism from our lives. It's tough. But perhaps an important first step could be not doing that effort from hell just to beat some woman off the mark. Perhaps you'd be better off just saying hi.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why Not Start At The Beginning?

As mentioned here, last Tuesday I had my first ever crash at DISC. Recovery hasn't been the funnest thing ever, let me tell you. There's aching, there are weird stabbing pains and there is the stinging sensation you get when your jeans get stuck to your scabs (on that topic - and simultaneously as a digression - last time I had copious amounts of broken skin hidden under my jeans random dogs on the street would come up and lick my legs. I had no idea why until I figured out that the dogs could taste the blood seeping through. It was all of a sudden significantly less cute. Make no mistake: if dogs could eat you they would). There have been, however, lighter sides, including this exchange with my new physiotherapist:

"Brendan, what do you do for a job?"
"I'm a schoolteacher. Why do you ask?"
"Because I thought that maybe you were a model. You have that look about you."
"Ah, you're flattering me."
"No, really, you're gorgeous."

On my return visit, a week later, she told me that even though my face was handsome, I would never be a knee model. Scars, lumps and bruised cartilage have ensured that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Use It To Burn.

Ok, here's my dilemma. I love racing in alleycats. It's what I consider to be my roots, where I began my life as a competitive cyclist. They're also fucking rad - there's not much better in the world than smashing it through traffic with a bunch of your friends. It's a combination of speed and - dare I say it - recklessness that is hard to top. And on October 4th, there's an alleycat - the Fix Up Look Sharp event pictured above. Which looks like it could be pretty damn cool. I've been asked to be a part of a strong team which has a strong chance of a podium finish. Yep. No reason why I wouldn't be a part of this, right?


Well, there is one. My newest love - and perhaps the one I'm currently most passionate about - is racing track. It's what I've been training for over the past year or so. And on the track, my strengths are obviously the sprints. Which leads me to the heart of my dilemma - the ABOC Summer Sprint Series has its first round on October 4th. And while the sprints start at 1pm sharp and the alleycat doesn't allegedly start until 3, I don't think there's any chance of me making it to the music bowl in time - or in shape - for the race. So I have to choose. Which is where you, patient readers, come in. Tell me which one I should choose - and why - and I'll make a choice based on your expert opinions. You're up to that, right? I can trust you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We Were Young And We Were Improving.


So, the Padre Madison has come and gone. I drank a lot of excellent coffee. Ben Ladner and I - Team Handsome - were hoping only to finish this one; dreams of glory were always beyond us. In the past we've flaked out, crashed out, died in the arse, but this time we were committed.

It didn't start well. We dropped the wheel, were eventually lapped by the bunch. I missed some changes, which didn't help. And when Glen Peterson from Total Rush clipped my wheel, resulting in a dual Springsteen style kneeslide down the back straight, things looked dire. There was blood, there were bruises, and there was a suddenly out-of-true Shamal to contend with. We dropped another lap.

I pulled up to Casey on the fence for a drink. Ben looked to be doing ok, so I let him do another lap. There were a lot of folks sitting around, drinking coffee, cheering and giving the riders a hard time. Maddison Hammond, fresh from coming 8th (I think) in the Keirin at the Junior Worlds, was in the crowd. I asked him for advice. He said to ride faster. It was good advice.

We did some more laps. There was some beef developing between team Total Rush and Team France. I saw some headbutts, and apparently missed Hamish from France punching Gary from Total Rush fair in the face. Ben and I didn't have anything to do with it, but I took great relish in reporting it to the crowd. Not much more eventuated, however, as Total Rush pulled out. Which, incidentally, also meant that Team Handsome would not come last.

With about twenty to go I started feeling ok. We weren't rushing to keep up with the bunch, but rather keeping our own rhythm. Our changes were getting better and we didn't miss as many. The last few flew by. We somehow made up a lap, putting us only four down. The bell rang and the bunch sprinted for the last available points. Team Handsome had one change left, but neglected to take advantage of it, electing instead to join hands, raise them to the sky and salute over the finish line. I think Gavin Sittampalan and Oli Le Grice won, but really, who gives a fuck? Madison completed, mission accomplished.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You Wanna Party With The Lights On.

Madison at DISC on Tuesday night, for those of you who have forgotten. Hipster Nascar at its best. Coffee, yelling, hilarity and perhaps even some bike riding. Get there.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

On A Crooked Highway.

The other day, after racing at DISC, I was getting changed in the infield. I was pretty wrecked - some VIS kids had come down and made life difficult for us - and couldn't really be bothered heading up to the bathrooms to strip out of my knicks. There weren't many people around, so I ducked behind the the motorbike cage and had a good look around. One of the VIS kids - Alex Smyth - didn't seem to know what I was doing. "I'm getting changed," I told him. "Oh," he answered. "You wanna borrow a towel?" I did.

But this was no ordinary towel. Long have I dealt with the need to change outfits for cycling with extreme difficulty. A long-promised article will soon be forthcoming about the different places I have now been naked and applying chamois creme. These problems could have been solved months ago if only someone had given me a towel with elastic and velcro at the top. Genius.

"Wow!" I said to Alex, "That's awesome!"
"I know," he replied. "Leigh Howard's mum gave it to me. I think she made it herself."
"Well, she would know."
"Yeah, I reckon she would."

I fastened the towel, removed my knicks, then continued on my way.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cold Water.

I've spoken at length - to anyone who would listen - about how much I don't like Northcote (the suburb, not the cycling club), but I rarely follow this vitriol with what perhaps is a paradoxical truth: I'm quite fond of Thornbury. Sitting in the appallingly named Tart N Round with Jen and Grant the other day, way up on High St I see a parade of punks drop by, which is always a good sign. Up a block or so further up are two punk / DIY venues in Loophole and El Joyero. Across Bell St, just a little into Preston, is La Panella bakery, which, like Tart N Round, is specifically vegetarian and vegan. Across from High St a bit, a few kilometres along Darebin Rd, is DISC, where I spend a lot of time these days. It's quiet, leafy and lacks the bohemian bourgeoisie that ruin Northcote. I'd move there, sure, but I have a longstanding selfmade rule that states I must live within walking distance of the city. Like most of my longstanding selfmade rules, the older I get the stupider this one seems.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Treated Like A Goddamn Step-Child.

Skid comp was this arvo, and the weather held out. I yelled and heckled and talked to folks and even squirted my Team Handsome teammate's crotch with water while he was trying to win his first ever game of foot down, but didn't ride. Sure, I copped some flack about that, and was seriously tempted to join in the Circle of Attrition (which was an elimination race with a fancy name), but fuck, I've been hurt and sick and out of form enough lately not to want to risk a stupid injury having dumb fun.

And there certainly were stupid injuries on display - some hipster slid along his face in the skid comp, with only his dreadlocks for protection; Matty B got taken out of the elimination when some girl pulled out of the race without looking; and Lane seriously split his fucking head open in the skid comp final. While still lying on the ground he reached for his beer and refused all offers of a trip to emergency. I think I saw his brain.

It turned out to be a fucking fun day nonetheless. Nik Cee won a Schwinn Madison in the raffle, and someone produced three boxes of bananas late in the day, which I almost enjoyed more than Nik enjoyed his new whip. Thanks to Dimos and all the sponsors for getting on board.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Aim Is True.


I will be racing this once again, hopefully this time in full health. Team Handsome will be in the Swiss colours, assuming Pretty Boy Ladner recovers from his nail gun incident in time. The boys who brought the ruckus last time - Hamish Taylor and Pete Trigar - will be there in the blue, which I think is meant to be French. More teams to come.



Either way, it'll be another fun night of heckling, shenanigans and - hopefully - onsite espresso shots for racers from the good folks at Padre Coffee. Another one for the diary!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Measuring Time In Blooms.

Around this time last year my friend McNabb started going down to DISC on Sunday mornings. There was a skills session there, she said, where you get to ride on the Velodrome. I was kinda interested, but was more interested in racing road, so wasn't in much of a hurry to head down there.

Eventually, though, I set my alarm and wandered down. Nath was there, and we had a bit of a chat. Somehow he convinced me to give it a go. I borrowed one of the club bikes and followed him around for the next fifteen minutes, rolling first on to the straights, then all the way up the banks, until we were doing entire laps along the fence. By the time we rolled off I was hooked.

I started racing in September. Before then the only competitive cycling I'd done was in alleycats. It was only E grade, but I remember being pretty nervous. I figured sitting in the bunch would do me just fine in the first race, but by the time the bell rang the red mist had settled in and I sprinted away.

When the weather turned warm I started training with Brunswick Cycling Club legend Alf Walker on Monday nights. We trained at the Harrison Street Velodrome, where the cracks are significant and the graffiti fresh. I'd stick around for Madison training immediately afterwards, slinging and being slung around the oddly shaped track as the sun came down.

After a couple of months of needling on my part Nath eventually outlined a training program for me, consisting of two months of base training, then blocks of endurance, strength and speed. By the time the last block came around I'd made my way into A grade, bought a fancy carbon track bike and was riding for The Fitzroy Revolution. I'd also ridden quite a few road races, and while I'd done ok, they didn't have the buzz, the frantic ADHD fun of the track. So I let the dreams of a year ago and started looking for a track coach, eventually settling on Rick Leonard.

I started training with Rick about a week into the Brunswick Track Omnium. I'd come second in the flying 200, and was pretty confident that I could land on the podium in enough of the coming events to win. Which is pretty much how it panned out - a win in the scratch, second in the points, third in the motorpace and a fifth in the three lap time trial. It wasn't a huge, important event or anything - we certainly weren't racing for sheep stations - but for a kid who was in E grade less than a year ago it felt like a pretty big deal.

I don't really know where I go from here. There are Opens on the horizon, Christmas track carnivals in both Victoria and Tasmania, crazy track racing circuses at Hisense Arena. It's a world that's opening out in front of me right now. Stay tuned, I guess.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Sticks And Stones Around My Neck.

The title of this blog was taken from a Submission Hold song of the same name. The song is about women being seen as less than human, an idea that owes much to the concept of "Otherness". It was probably an ethically dubious move on my part - as a guy, claiming the name of a song about feminism as your own smacks of male privilege. But I claimed it nonetheless, because as guys I kinda think we have an obligation to constantly consider this stuff - how our thoughts, words and actions sideline women because of their gender. And plus, it's a kicking rad song.

The problem I'm currently considering spans both bikes and punk rock, which is nice. In terms of numbers, women are not majority participants in either scene. At the last alleycat I ran there were 48 participants. Two were women. At the last show I went to I saw two bands (I left early. I do that these days). Only one had a female member. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and will probably spend a lot more, because I have no idea what I can do to make more women show up to these events. I'm tired of feeling like the two communities I love aren't inclusive, are dominated by the same patriarchal bullshit we find in our working lives. The Ladies Who Leisure ride is an awesome start, but I'm supposed to be running another Alleycat in November, and I want to know what I can do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lip Service.

It was sunny out yesterday, the first Saturday it has been in weeks. I stopped by Shifterbikes on the way home from DISC and the phone barely stopped ringing. I wouldn't have been surprised if folks had started dropping by with flat tires. This happens every year, usually around the onset of spring. People drag out their long-neglected bikes, set off into the world and wonder what that noise is. Now, I'm not the most mechanically minded person, but I can sometimes be helpful. So here's Brendan's Totally Authentic Guide To The Weird Noises Your Bike Makes.

Squeak Squeak Squeak:

From the chain: A mouse is stuck in your derraileur and is slowly being crushed to death. Or you need to lube your chain.
From the bit where the cranks connect to the frame (aka the bottom bracket, a misnomer, as there is no top bracket): Another mouse, or perhaps a small bird. You should tighten your cranks eitherway. If this doesn't help, go to the bike shop.

Flub-flub-flub:

If you have stacked on the pounds over the winter, this is the sound of your new skin folds flapping in the breeze. Eat fewer pies. If it's not you, inflate your tires. If they go down again, you have a puncture. I'm not telling you how to fix this. It is beneath me.

VMMmmmmVMMmmmm:

If this sound is coming from your mouth, you are pretending to be a motorbike. Stop it. You are demeaning us all. If it is coming from your bike, your wheel and/or tire is rubbing on something. Find out what it is and move it, or the wheel.

Clunkadaclunkadaclunkada:

From the gears: Your rear derraileur is not in alignment. I suggest meditation, herbal teas and a biodynamic diet. Oh, wait, that's for chakras.

Grrrer. Grrrer. Grrrer:

Your front derraileur is not in alignment. See above.

Any Of These Noises:



Please just stop. Get off your bike, leave it on the side of the road and never, ever ride a bike ever again. This rule also applies to rapping.

For Actual Help:

Park Tool
Shedon Brown

Friday, July 24, 2009

We Need A Different Point Of View.

I'm pretty picky about how I learn how to do things. Generally I read a lot, watch a few people do it, then attempt to figure it out from there. Occasionally I'll ask people for help, but the minute they get too didactic teenage Brendan steps in and stops listening altogether. I'm pretty picky, therefore, about who I ask for help. So trying to find a coach over the past few months has been difficult. I've come pretty far with my cycling over the past ten or so months - particularly on the track - and am keen to keep on improving at the same rate. But reading a lot, watching folks, then attempting to figure it out myself isn't going to cut it. I simply don't know enough, and the ridiculous deluge of information on the internet isn't specific enough to help. So I'm left in the situation I find myself in right now: still improving, but frustrated that I'm not improving faster. Thirty years of knee-jerk reaction, stubbornness and bloody-minded independence have brought me to this point. And I thought it would be my body that held me back.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Like Your Old Stuff.

From Picaresque #1:

"At times, I know, the community can seem cliquey, can be as isolating and alienating as it is embracing. But when you’re ten thousand miles from home, don’t know where to get vegan food, have had to explain straight edge to drunk kids a thousand times, and been faking enjoyment while dancing to some indiscriminate boy band for the past three weeks, to rock up at a show and feel a part of something seems to me to be exactly what punk rock is about. Eventually knowing half the people at the shows you go to, corresponding with the people who make the records you listen to, singing along to the same bands every week. It’s not everything, but it makes you feel, if only for a moment, that everything else – starbucks, the fashion industry, bus travel and seasickness, just to name a few – has fucked off to some other place and left you standing here, feeling alright."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You Do What You Can Do With What You Got.

The thing about believing in things is that it's not enough. You have to act, and acting inevitably means sacrificing something. So maybe you shouldn't get married after all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tonight In Jungleland.

The main reason I have so much fun track racing is not because I enjoy winning, although that doesn't hurt. No, for me the most fun nights are when there are different things going on, different strategies colliding together, and from the midst of that chaos a result is somehow produced. Different plans for different races succeed at different times, but the same plan can never be counted on to work every time. You have to mix it up, change it up, make it up as you go along. Last week, for example, I took off early in the scratch race, gained a couple of bike lengths and was able to hold off Stu Grimsey for the win. This week, however, the group was too fast, and that wasn't going to cut it. In the motorpace, after the motorbike had come off, I stuck to Josh Vicino's wheel until the last corner. I could hear Cuz Bro coming over the top of me - he breathes loudly - and knew that he'd outsprint me if he had a decent position. So I let myself veer out a little bit, edged him towards the fence and used the extra roll off the banking to pick up the extra speed I needed to get past Josh. It was totally different to what I'd managed the week before, and it worked out. I wouldn't have cared if it hadn't. The racing was sweet, and that's what keeps me coming back.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Who's Punk? What's The Score?

I don't know if you've noticed this, but I'm pretty cool. I listen to alternative music. I wear a lot of black. I have friends in successful underground bands. I ride a sweet fixie with suitably positioned stickers. I live in the inner city and spend a lot of time drinking coffee at totally hip cafes. I wrote a zine that was reviewed favourably in other zines. I occasionally attend parties and see B level Neighbours startlets getting drunk in the corner. I'm on the Three Thousand email list, and hell, even know some of the people who write it. I've been vegan since way before it was featured in partygirl diet plans. I read books that aren't about imaginary worlds, or, for that matter, fantasy child wizards. I have hundreds of friends on facebook. When I rock up to the velodrome, or to a road race out in the middle of butt fuck nowhere, I'm pretty certain that I'm the coolest person there.

But if this is the case, why do the jerks, douchebags, nerds and jocks and lame-os, internet dorks and dirty uncles, self-important pedants and angry narcissists who make up the majority of the cycling community keep fucking beating me? Could it be that I've entered some strange world where the values I've cultivated and held dear for years don't matter? Some weird world where success is determined by measures unknown to hipsters all across Brunswick? Where the fuck am I? What the fuck have I done? Do I have to find some red Sidis and click my heels three times to return everything to its rightful place? At some point am I going to wake up and discover it was all a dream?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Take Them Back.

Last night at the track I had two second placings and a win. I also got to chat with DC from Fitzroy Revolution, check out a potential new coach and suck up to the handicapper for Saturday's Northern Combine race. And then, when I didn't think things could get any better, Steve presented me with a set-top box. So I can now watch the Tour (and also occasional live Elvis Costello concerts on ABC2). Yep, things are coming up Brendan.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Too Little, Too Late.

It's ten past three on a Sunday afternoon and I can think of nothing I'd rather do than go back to bed. Two weeks holidays coming my way have taken the urgency out of things, but I'm keen to do some more riding, clean the house, catch up with old friends.

Sometimes the latter is a little difficult, however. For some reason being a punk means that your friends - and probably you - are transient by nature, constantly moving to different cities or leaving the country for substantial parts of the year. I was guilty of this for years, but now that I'm something of a stay-at-home, I feel other people's departures more keenly. Such is the case with my former housemate Tara Jayne, who took off from Tullamarine on Tuesday morning and arrived in New York shortly thereafter. She'll be hanging out with her boyfriend for the next few months, and claims that she'll be back in the spring, but love's calling is louder than the responsibilities of home, and visa laws in the states are easy to flout. I'm not sure when I'll see her again.

She'll hate me writing this, embarrassed as she is by compliments. I can only hope that she'll be too busy forming bands or making music or hopping freights around the country to read it.

I reckon I'd known her about a month. I was the one leaving this time, heading back to Montreal and a very uncertain future. I told her if it sucked I'd be back before too long. "Well, I hope it sucks then," she told me, "because it's been rad hanging out."

Despite meeting some of the best people in the world, it did suck, and when I arrived back in the country she asked me if I wanted to move in with her. We lived in a fancy apartment on the wrong side of the river. We did what we could to bring property values down: hosting impromptu pool parties full of punks, throwing leftover pancakes at the building opposite, bringing up sweet finds from hard rubbish and blasting the stereo all freaking night. In this time I saw her go from the shy girl who worked at Missing Link to someone who sang in a band, ran a record label, organized tours for international punk rock superstars and generally feel more confident about the things she wanted to do. To say she blossomed sounds patronizing - perhaps it's better to say she came into her own.

When you're growing, doing awesome things and generally moving outwards into the world, Melbourne can start to seem a little small. It's no surprise that she's spending more time in the States. The sheer number of opportunities for her there, compared to here, probably feels like going from a soup kitchen to a buffet. I hope she eats more than her fill, goes back for seconds and thirds.

I should, I suppose, clarify a few things. She wasn't ever my girlfriend. She is quite attractive, but I never saw her that way. We never made out, were never intimate beyond hugging and an occasional arm thrown around the shoulders. In the last few months before we left I didn't even see her that often. But now that she's not around, that there's no chance of bumping into her at a show or even just in the street, I miss the hell out of her.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Introspection.

Gunning it down Beaconsfield Parade during Global Gutz on Saturday night I catch up to Lane, take my turn on the front and keep pulling away. He drops the wheel and I drop the pace so he can jump back on. "Don't fucking wait for me!" He yells, "You've gotta beat the whole world!"
"Yeah," I answer, "But we won't beat the whole world unless we work together."
Sure, it's a cheesy sentiment. But one of the simple facts in cycling, whether it be road, track, mountain, cross or street, is that two riders can go faster than one. And three riders can go faster than two. Like I mentioned before, apart from when Lane would gain significant distance on us through traffic, he, Campbell and I pretty much rolled turns for the whole 21ks, working together to defeat riders on five different continents. And it seems our plan worked out pretty fucking well.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shamble On.

In the Three Day Tour, written about here, I rode a ten kilometre individual time trial. The road was open, long and flat, with little to nothing in the way of distractions. I did it in 16 minutes and 46 seconds. Last night, in Global Gutz, I rode a twenty-one kilometre route that weaved across the city. I bombed Hoddle against the red twice, chased Lane Dell, yelled warnings at pedestrians, dodged cars and small animals and other cyclists, rolled occasional turns with Campbell Townsend and eventually set a time of 31 minutes flat. Go figure.

Here's What The Poster Read:























Global Gutz Alleycat tonight. All week I've been trying to convince roadies to come down, roll turns with me for the whole 21ks, and set the fastest time in the world. I'm not sure if it'll work out like that, but hey, it's my first alleycat since the trackolympics, and I'm pretty psyched on it.