Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Wonder, If I Pierce It.

We spend a lot of time sculpting our bodies, trying to convince them to do things that they really don't want to do. After a while has passed our bodies start to take the shapes we want them to, and we can convince ourselves that we are in control. But like the Nicole Kidman character tells the Tom Cruise character in Days Of Thunder, control is an illusion. And it only takes one virus, one infection or even one day of not being able to speak to remind us of this. We like to think that it's a give and take relationship - if we treat our bodies nicely, it won't fail us when we need it most. But that's bullshit too. I need my body now; there are only two weeks til the Northern Combine Three Day Tour and all this time off the bike isn't going to help. And I have a friend over from the states who I'd like to be able to entertain, but really, the novelty of phlegm wears off after a while. I'm good to my body, you know? If it were all about a fair exchange then none of this would be happening. No, all I can tell myself is that life is cruel, and do what I can to enjoy sitting on my couch under a blankie, watching Arrested Development.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jungles Of Doubt.

I'm not having the greatest run at the moment. Covered in scabs from a crash a week or so ago, run down by an influenza I'm doing my best to convince everyone is swine-related, unable to ride my bike for more than an hour at a time, and now, finally, dispossessed of my voice.

I'm generally a pretty talky bloke, but there are times when I go a long time without speaking. Mostly when I'm asleep, sure. But also when I'm out on the bike, or typing these posts, or, well, yeah, asleep. Oh, also in the morning, when I'm trying to read the paper. But now that I'm consciously trying not to speak so much, it weighs heavy on my mind. It's not that it hurts to speak. It's just that when I try to do so the voice that comes out is that of a midlife drag queen attempting to be sexy. That's an image I don't want to project. So I'm trying not to talk. And it ain't easy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Exile Town.

Stoked on new wheels, I turn up for roller training late and a little pissed off. I've forgotten my stuff for yoga afterwards, haven't thought about dinner, and have just come out of a meeting (I was going to write 'a frustrating meeting', but realized that it was a tautology and decided against it). So I change into my kit and start smashing it. Nath bails out early and offers to provide some resistance. I tell him I'm fine, and that I'll just spin faster. But on the final effort he wedges a broom in between my rear roller and the floor. It takes me by surprise, and I momentarily let the cadence drop below one hundred. But I grind it out and before long the smell of melting nylon fills the room. That's right. I melted fabric with the sheer force of my legs. Next week I hope to steam some red bean buns with the heat escaping from the top of my head.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Revelator

The other thing about cycling is that sometimes there are crashes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

You Mean Competitor, Whatever.

The history of cycling as a sport is defined by corporate interests, from the Tour de France (begun as a way to sell newspapers) to the Northern Combine races that torture me on the weekends, sponsored in part by clothing manufacturer Ventou. Our team jerseys are littered with logos and our favourite riders have their pictures on our energy bars. It's what keeps the sport alive, like it or not. I choose to like it. If a company chooses to invest in events that are environmentally ok, encourage a healthy lifestyle and are also totally sweet to boot, then I'm provisionally down. Hell, it's better than them investing in the Grand Prix.

I've had events sponsored in the past, but had never thought about being a supported rider until Nath suggested I go talk to the folks at the Fitzroy Revolution. So I did. And they, despite having read this blog, decided to pick me up. I'll be riding in their team colours for the first time less than twelve hours from now.

Wish me luck.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Told You.

here's the lowdown.

riders will be given a map with a series of checkpoints. each checkpoint will be worth a different amount of points. you do not have to go to every checkpoint - indeed, it will be impossible to do so, as all riders must return to the museum by 8.30, and there will be lots. riders returning after the time limit will have points deducted. the rider with the most points will win!

the puzzle parts of the equation will be a) deciding which checkpoints to hit and b) answering the questions at each checkpoint. tricky stuff!

there will, of course, also be prizes for first noob, first out-of-towner, DFL, first person to finish who is of the opposite gender to the winner, person who hit the furtherest checkpoint, etc, etc.

ride anything you want - fixed, free, gears, hybrid, mountain bike, bmx, chopper, whatever.

sponsor details coming soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And I For One Support It.

This is the best thing I've ever written and you didn't even read it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Call It Canaveral.

Last night Nat Graf and I went to the East Brunswick Club to eat and watch the football. I had a Vegan Philly Cheese Steak and some of McNabb's Sticky Date Pudding. Nat was a little taken aback about how much food I was putting away. He was even more shocked when I told him I'd already eaten two sandwiches before meeting him. "I got a race tomorrow," I told him. "I gotta stock up."

History will show that the Bombers got up against the Hawks, but it will not show me heading to Atticus Finch after the game to catch up with Harriet and Lidia. Conversation was amiable and I wasn't heaps keen on leaving, but when Lidia offered a lift I took it. "I got a race tomorrow," I told the assembled party. "I gotta get some sleep."

Having used the race as my excuse for indulging my base desires twice in three hours, I was a bit nervous about how it would go. I'd been hurt bad by the previous week's handicap, and felt like a decent showing was needed. I put my name down in C grade and tried to keep warm.

Here's a digression for my international visitors. Five kilometres in a kangaroo crossed the road ahead of my group. It jumped out, freaked out, then tried to get the fuck out. I was one side of it, some guy was on the other side of it. I looked for space and kept my hands off the anchors and the roo jumped into him.

A couple of more clicks along the road and I hit a pothole, losing my waterbottle. The decent showing was looking less and less likely.

But in this week's race, as opposed to last week's, I'd been eating a lot of food. I'd let go of a bit more of my dignity and bought some gels, and they were working a charm. More than anything, though, I was stoked. It was sunny and warm, the roads were clear and things weren't hurting. So I joined a bunch and went off the front. Another guy - James - handed me his spare waterbottle, telling me he wouldn't need it. When we got reeled in I went off with the next bunch. Things were looking ok.

The countryside started flattening out and I started thinking about the finish. I asked around but no one would tell me how far we had left. Some guy from Sunbury was off the front, but I figured there was about ten ks til the end, so I let him go. When a bunch of people appeared on the side of the road about half a k ahead I thought momentarily that maybe some folks were having a barbecue, before realising that it was the finish line. It was now that I started spinning.

A couple of seconds later I remembered that I had gears.

It wasn't soon enough to catch the guy in front, and I scored a second place.

(Photo c/o Blakey, used without permission).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In My Soup.

A few folks and I are planning an event for the evening of Friday the 12th of June. Watch this space for more information...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

You'll Soon Depart.

I was struggling in today's handicap race, something I think I'll have to get used to if I stick with this road racing malarkey. Half the time I was so short of breath that eating anything was near impossible. The other half my legs were hurting so much that it took every stupid psychological game-playing strategy I could think of just to keep them ticking over. I was hanging on to my group, though, and given that Ewin had predicted the winners would eventually come from my group, this was a good thing. To help ease the pain I was sticking to the back of the bunch, letting other folks do the work. They'd do their turn at the front, work their way to the back, and then I'd signal for them to cut in front of me. It means they had to do more work, but I doubt they were struggling quite as much, so I didn't freaking care. Until I signaled this one guy in. He really wasn't too keen on the idea, but I was dropping the wheel, so he didn't really have a choice. He did, however, make his displeasure known in a way that was universally understood.

He farted.

Pretty soon afterwards I got dropped.

The winner did come from my group, and my good pal and occasional training buddy Fraser came in fourth. I came home fifty places behind him.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Step Into The Realm.

Nath told me, when he outlined this new training plan, that I should have one day per week that I don't ride the bike at all. I chose Friday. Little did I know, at that point, how much it would suck. I mean, I don't mind public transport, but utilizing it means that everything just takes that little bit longer. Instead of leaving for work at eight, I have to leave at seven thirty. Instead of taking fifteen minutes to get to Smith St, it takes forty five. And don't even get me started on walking. Seeing this program laid out in front of me I wondered how I would manage doing so many hill repeats, or so many miles, and could almost feel the pain to come. I never would have imagined that these days off the bike would be the worst of all.