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.


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.


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.


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