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.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bicentennial.

200th post.

Thanks for reading friends, enemies and all those in between.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

You Are The Missing Limb.

So far, over the last month or so, this sore throat / lost voice / swollen glands / shitty feeling has been variously diagnosed as the flu, a throat infection and now laryngitis. I've spent a lot of time on a variety of drugs that have achieved next to nothing. I've watched a lot of TV on DVD, sat on the couch, drank a lot of orange juice. It's getting to be a little bit frustrating, not to mention putting a considerable dent in my ambitions. What I'd like most of all is to be accurately assessed, prescribed a course of treatment and then cured. Anyone?

Friday, June 12, 2009

We Play The Roles That They Assign Us.



Given that I scored my second ever DNF in today's Northern Combine race at Gisborne South, I'll concentrate instead on reporting back on last night's Puzzlecat. I don't really think I'll be giving the best picture of what occurred, however, especially given I was drinking coffee and ferrying beer around while everyone else was out smashing themselves and looking in awkward locations for impossible answers to cryptic clues. Best to also look at the fixed.org.au thread to see what everyone else is saying.

Nath and I rocked up to the museum carting a huge load of swag at around 5.45. There were already people there, which augered well for the final turnout. We'd copied a few more maps on the way and spent the next twenty minutes putting them into envelopes with the spokecards and stickerpacks from knog and crumpler. At that point Tara Jayne was still saying she wasn't going to race, so I enlisted her help, and ignored her obvious advantage when she changed her mind and handed in her ten bucks.

When I started talking crap at around 6.30 there were 47 participants - an amazing number, given the freezing cold. Another bloke rocked up a good twenty minutes after the start, but still wanted to race, taking the final number to 48. They shivered and - for the most part - resisted the temptation to open their envelopes and sneak a peak at the diabolical schemes inside.

Riders were instructed that in their envelopes there would be a map with a series of checkpoints marked on it. Each checkpoint had a cryptic question to answer, based on the location. Checkpoints were optional, and each was worth an amount of points. Riders had to return by 8.30, and were docked ten points for each minute they were late thereafter. The rider with the most points at the end would win.

At 6.45 they were on their way. The furthest point was Brunswick Velodrome, with a question based on the plaque on the base of the lightpost at the 300 metre mark. The closest was on a currency meter at the front of the Exhibition Gardens. There were questions based on graffiti, advertising posters, names on benches and shoes slung over electric wires. I had told folks at the beginning that if they couldn't find an answer they should just move on, but surprisingly most people found the answers once they arrived. As such I wasn't bombarded with calls asking for hints, and spent quite a leisurely time waiting for the riders to return.

The first group appeared at 8.15. I insisted they had enough time to hit another checkpoint, but they seemed more interested in the beer and hot chips Nath and I had procured for public consumption. As folks came pouring in we realised that the adding process would take longer than we'd thought, so some poor riders were enlisted to pick up the slack. Blakey, Nik Cee and Denison deserve special shout-outs for this.

Third place went to Alex 4.0, who actually scored the most points by a considerable margin, but arrived twelve minutes late and so lost a good deal of them. Second place went to Michael, who was riding in his first alleycat ever, but who picked a good bunch of riders to stick with. And first place went to X-Campbell, who would've got a special prize anyway for deciding not to ride in his yellow pants. At this point we discovered that our sorting system allowed no provision for figuring out who else was awarded other prizes, so I relied on rider honesty and gave out prizes for first noob, youngest rider, oldest rider, best stack (Nik Cee, again), furthest checkpoint (Pip!) and out-of-towner (Rich!). Sasha from Pony Bikes was at hand to give out the prize for first girl, which - perhaps not surprisingly - was won by Tara Jayne. And the special DFL prize of the ugliest jersey ever and a Gu Energy Gel was won by Trigger, who suffered three punctures and was the only rider to score a negative amount of points.

Folks then retired to Little Creatures Dining Hall, where they were filled full of more chips and entertained partially by flaming hippies, but mostly by their own shared tales of derring-do. At about 10 I headed home to bed, preparing for the aforementioned race that I eventually failed to finish.

Special thanks have to go to Nath, Zoe, Nik Cee, IRide Bikes (for so much stuff!), Shifterbikes (for the rare merch), Pony Bikes (for coming down and presenting some awesome prizes), Sweet Source (for cupcakes, even if I forgot to award them and had to run around handing them out afterwards), BSC Bikes (for billions of puncture kits), Stussy (for a Masters prize that will make a certain 42 year-old totally hip), Crumpler (for continuing to support the fixie scene, as they have done for, like, forever), Knog (for blinky things in abundance, and for stickers!), Commuter Cycles (for being nice guys, and for the free service for first noob), Cranky Sundays (in particular Hans, for sneakers), Yellow Ghost Records (for cds!), Genovese Coffee (for... well, you can figure it out) and Aqto (for the coolest bike designs I've seen on a t-shirt). Also to the security staff at the museum for not cracking it at us, and The Kid Campbell for taking photos and getting them up on the internet in record time.

Next race from The Future: Drags. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Haemorrhaging.


A few people have asked about the three day tour, and how it went for me. So here goes.

Day Zero.

Nath, Caro and I drive up on Friday night, which was perhaps the best decision we made all weekend. Checked into the Glen Erin, four ks out of Lancefield, a nice easy warm up ride away. The first disappointment of the weekend came quite soon afterwards - the spa was outdoors, and didn't seem to have been turned on since summer. We head out to find a place to eat in Romsey, share some bawdy banter and head home to bed. At 9.30. Holiday weekend! Party Hard!

Day One.

Due to sickness in the three weeks previous, I've signed up for C grade, which has earned me a serious amount of derision from some of my peers. But come on. I tried to race the Madison at DISC the Tuesday before and only made it to 30 laps, so I know I'm not in any kind of decent shape. So I'm quite happy when I realise C grade is going to take it easy for the first race. We roll around and not much happens. No attacks, no breaks. I sprint at the end and score a second.

We hang out at the Aspy cafe in Lancefield for a while afterwards. I fear that the cafe is named due to the large number of wait staff with Asperger's syndrome, but that proved not to be the case. One of the waiters takes a shine to Caro (who is ill this weekend and not riding) and gives her a copy of Murray Bail's Eucalyptus, which is one of my favourite books. The novel, however, doesn't seem to be any indication of decency in men.

Everyone is supposedly heading down to the Lancefield pub for dinner, in order to take advantage of the cyclist soup and pasta deal. We follow them down there and get caught up talking tactics most of the night. It's a tiring pastime - there's a lot of pressure - and to avoid concentrating too hard I spend a lot of my energy writing Bruce Springsteen lyrics on the tablecloth.

Day Two.

First up is the individual time trial. I've never done one before, don't have time trial bars or helmet or bike, and am wearing leggings that look like jeans. Quite often in this road racing caper I feel like an imposter, the random punk kid who snuck in and, lets face it, will likely steal a bunch of things. Never more so than today. I do ok in the time trial, but not well enough, and am out of contention for the GC. Looks like I'm aiming for sprint points from now on.

Next is the third stage, another scratch out on the road. Everyone seems pretty wrecked after the time trial - except for me, who obviously didn't try hard enough. It's slow and weary going. Compounding the general tiredness is the cold, and the wet, and the wind. I take the a second in the first intermediate sprint and a win in the next. At the finish I'm supposed to be leading out Sparkey, a fellow Brunswick member who is currently tour leader, but when I launch into the sprint I'm not in the best spot to help out, so I back myself and take the stage win.

Despite the obvious disappointment of there being no spa, I have taken full advantage of the deep bath in our ensuite so far this weekend, and tonight is no different. It is sensational. Afterwards we drive into Gisborne for some Thai. We make terrible puns over dinner and drive home through the dark night of the Macedon Ranges.

Day Three

I find out at the pre-race briefing that my number wasn't showing yesterday, and as such the points I thought I'd accumulated in the intermediate sprints weren't counted. I figure I've still got it wrapped up, so decide to do more work for Sparkey through the hills. This fucking kills me. I'm not a fan of hills at the best of times, and doing work on the front in order to string out the bunch is not my favourite way to spend the afternoon. There are attacks all day, and for the most part we let them go, but with about 20ks to go we send Andrew Gannon out to chase one down. It doesn't really work out that way - the two of them start working together and are a long way out. A group of three St Kilda guys head out after them and look like they're going to catch up, but the next we see of them they're sprawled out on the ground. The bunch neutralises out of respect, then guns it out of there. Folks are pushing the pace, trying to get an advantage before the sprint. I'm pretty much spent, and know that I'm out of it, so I try to block other GC contenders while another teammate leads Sparkey out. It doesn't work out that well - we all end up finishing in the bunch - and when we look at the times later that afternoon we discover that Andrew has taken out the overall prize.

The presentations are at the Lancefield pub, so we head down there again. We spend a lot of time standing around waiting for the photographers to get the lighting exactly right, but when procedings get off the ground we are alerted to the fact that Brunswick riders have taken out A, B and C grades. Not bad. I pick up a bunch of cash for my podium finishes, and a slightly thicker wad for the green jersey. The guy who took a shine to Caro on day one is lingering in the front bar, so we make a quick getaway out the back door, you know, to avoid further awkwardness.

On the way home we talk about the topic cyclists usually talk about after a big race: what the hell we're going to do now. I'm hoping to race as much as possible, score some consistent results in B grade, maybe do some opens. Caro wants to get more racing in, and perhaps do some more training. Nath has a coach writing up a program for him and wants to get fitter. It's good talk, filled with hope and promise and glory to come, but as the city comes back into view we fall quiet.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When We Love.

Well, the Northern Combine Three Day Tour is upon us, and due to my lungs sounding like a bowl of Rice Bubbles whenever I try to attack a hill, my priorities have been realigned. Before I had hoped to win. Now I'd like to survive. It will be tough. But I have been assured that our room has a spa, so even if I drop out after the first stage I will be able to spend the rest of the weekend lounging in the bubbles and reading my book. Win-win.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Touch Me, I'm Sick


Against my better judgement, tomorrow night I will be riding in this.

The Madison is not really my favourite race, as endurance is not really my thing, but it is always good watching. My partner PB Ladner (the PB stands for Pretty Boy) and I - the original Team Handsome - have both been individually laid out with the flu all last week, and will not fare well in the race, but intend to out-heckle the smartest of audience arses. Come on down.