Saturday, December 18, 2010

If I Gave You The First Verse

I ended up with another fucking third at the State Champs points race today, cheated out of second place by my own stupidity and lack of attention. That's not too bad - as I've stated before, I don't mind losing because I do dumb things - and nor is it what this post is about. Instead, this post is about a little bit of Brunswick pride.

Greg Brunt didn't need to be down at the track this afternoon. I think Steve Leishman may have asked him to come down and offer advice for the sprints, and he must've just hung around to watch the points. Not content to sit and watch, however, he took it upon himself to look after the Brunswick boys in the race - Sam McGregor and I. Once he checked that we had our spare wheels ready to go - with the correct sprockets on and fully pumped up - he kept us fed, hydrated and well advised on how he saw the race unfolding. Short of mopping our brows he did everything he could to make sure we went into the race comfortable - he even cleaned my glasses for me.

After the race was done - 100 laps, sprints every 10 - I was pretty dehydrated, and wanted nothing more than a drink. Without me saying anything, Greg appeared once again, my water bottle in hand. I mean, I knew he was a nice guy, but I didn't know he could read minds too.

Cycling can be a mercenary business at times, because essentially - despite involving teams, and despite it being next to impossible to win serious races without the support of a team - it's all about individual glory. And yet the best clubs have this kind of solidarity, this willingness to stick around and help each other out, occasionally give each other leadouts, let each other in, ride out to the race together and ride home together. It's something that tends to happen organically, rather than being dictated and rostered and obliged. We spend all this time hanging out between races, swapping stories and spinning shit, that when it comes to the serious races we're willing to look after each other. Brunswick Cycling Club does this very well, and today Greg Brunt exemplified it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Got Me A Girl From Minnesota.

I remember seeing this when it first screened on Recovery. I remember calling up Leith afterwards, with a slight tremble in my voice. "Did. You. Just. See. That?" I asked. He was wavering too. "Yeah." He answered. Then there was a silence.

Every karaoke performance I've ever pulled off sprung from this clip.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Her Sisters Work In Woolworths, Her Brothers All Drive V8s.

So, with a new coach generally comes new extras. While pretty much all coaches these days recommend rolling around the floor with the soccer mums in a pilates class, the gym can still be a contentious topic. Pretty much all coaches recommend some gym work. The trouble is, there's so many different kinds of gyms, different kinds of gym programs, and different variations on those programs. Eventually, I guess, you just have to throw your lot in with one bunch, and decide that you're going to trust them without question.

My coach, Brad, recommended I do some weightlifting. I must've raised an eyebrow or something, because he caught on to my skepticism and insisted I give his mate Peter at the Victorian Weightlifting Centre a call. So I did, and a week or so later headed over the river to Glenferrie Oval, where the Centre is based.

While asking around for Peter I noticed two things. The first was that there were a whole lot of Anti-Doping Officials around, way more than I've ever seen at a cycling event. And the second was that while the dudes there were seriously gigantic, the women were of an average size, and generally not the cliche behemoth weightlifting types. Strange.

Perhaps due to me being about half the size of every other guy there, Peter set me up in a back room, working just with the bar at first, without any weights on it. He didn't tell me until about halfway through that the bar itself weighs twenty kilos. I've been and seen a few experts on Brad's recommendation, and they all seem to share this same slightly sadistic sense of humour. That same session Peter told me that he should be able to fix my posture - and improve my power numbers - but that I'd have to learn to toughen up a bit.

So since then I've been heading out there twice a week. Lately I've also been sharing the back room with a couple of disabled athletes, who - needless to say - can bench press a lot more than me. Peter hums songs to himself in between sets and occasionally fills me in on cycling gossip. The other guys in the gym still look at me like I'm that puny wimp on the beach, but that's ok. My arms crack, my shoulders ache, and occasionally I spend what seems like hours throwing a medicine ball against a wall. I haven't really seen any power gains through the soreness just yet, but like I said earlier, you gotta trust that what you're doing is right.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm Sick With This, I'm Sick With This.

I'm not a great bike racer. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm pretty good at riding my bike, and I'm ok at winning races from time to time, but I'm not great at reading races, and I for one am of the opinion that right there is the difference between a great racer and a great rider. I like to think that because I came late to the sport I haven't quite developed that immediate instinct, that ability to instantly know which breaks to follow, how to time my efforts, when to let some muppet hang out the front and burn himself out.

This isn't to say that I don't get it at all. It comes to me, it just takes a while. And with each race I'm getting better at it. This is what has been happening with me down at the St Kilda crits over the past few weeks. I wasn't heaps enthused when I saw them written into my program, but a couple of races in and I'm starting to feel it. Last time I raced there - a couple of weeks back now, due to rain - I sat at the back and only did some work at the front in the last ten minutes, trying to chase down a break that was way too far gone. This morning I went out in a couple of breaks of my own, watched other racers, bridged to other breaks and helped another Brunswick member into what we thought was a winning position. I'm a while off the win just yet, but being active in the race, starting to understand its ebb and flow, and anticipating moves before they occur is a definite step in the right direction.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Time!

That guy on the left there? That's Commonwealth Games Keirin Gold Medalist Josiah Ng. That girl on the right there? That's 9 year old Emily Hughes. This is my entire roller racing report. Who won, who set the best times, who got the most drunk, that's not as important. Or as fun.

Ok, I'll list the winners later.

Evacuation! I Shout It Out!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You Be Emmylou And I'll Be Gram.

We all have bad days on the bike. They shouldn't destroy us every time, shouldn't make us ask any questions, shouldn't make us uncertain about the training we've been doing, the food we've been eating, the rest we've been getting. Bad days on the bike should just be written off as bad days and forgotten, because the memory of bad days is always accompanied by doubt. And doubt, so useful in the cut and thrust of social discourse, has no place on the bike. To do well in this game you have to have the utmost in self-confidence - self-confidence that cannot be dented, no matter what the setback, what the loss. No matter how bad the day.

I did well yesterday at the Metro track champs, as well as I expected, but no better. I'd never ridden a real pursuit before, and yesterday morning did two, coming home with the bronze - second to a VIS athlete and a state pursuit champ. No shame there, but my qualifying time (5.01) was about five seconds slower than I'd hoped. And I brought home a silver in the kilo in the afternoon, but my tired legs were still unable to break that 1.10 mark that has been mocking me for over a year now. This being said, I was happy with how I was feeling - aside from those tired legs, I totally nailed my food intake, and the rest of my body was exactly where it should've been.

Today was a bit different. I skipped the sprints and arrived early for the scratch. Exactly how early quickly became apparent, and it slowly dawned on me that I didn't have quite enough food. Still, I watched Sean the Man - with the directions for the Grafton to Inverell 280 kilometre road race still taped to his stem - take a second in the sprints, then warmed up on the rollers. Then warmed up some more. Then warmed up some more. It wasn't the best preparation. The day was dragging on. A headache was coming. Casey texted me to ask where I was. When eventually our race started I was pretty much cooked. The pursuits yesterday had taken it out of me. I wasn't feeling great, and I felt even less great when I felt my rear tyre go all squishy. Five laps out for a mechanical. Still, I got back on without too much trouble, and even managed to pull a turn or two.

Before the race there had been a lot of discussion about how to beat the two VIS kids who had lined up with us. We had our man who we thought could win, and all we had to do was ensure that he did as little work as possible until the decisive moment. It was my job to mark one of these VIS kids, famed for making early escapes that somehow succeed. So this is what I did for the next ten laps. Every time he jumped, I jumped with him. If he moved up the track, I moved up the track. I followed him so closely I think I got some of his sweat on me. Eventually our man made his move and took a hundred metres or so. I held up the kid for a little more, but eventually he took off and I couldn't go with him. He joined our man at the front, I sat up, and was, a few more kilometres further in, pulled from the race.

Which was kind of cool, because it meant that I got to watch the finish. Our man was pulling the softest turns imaginable, knowing that the only people remaining in the race were the VIS kid, who was burning like a diesel engine at the front of the race, swearing at our man and getting angrier by the minute, and one other friend, whose initial job had been to lead our man out with four laps to go. That friend raced on his own for a good fifteen laps and held out for third. With two laps to go our man jumped and the VIS kid, perhaps tired from straining to stay away, never managed to get on to the wheel. It was good watching, and good racing.

I'm still unable to shake the feeling that I had a shitty day. But writing it out here helps. It takes that doubt and makes it reasonable, factual, typed out in black and white. Writing it out helps you reckonize the errors and localize them, keeping them small, not allowing the doubt to magnify them. In the past half hour I've gone from thinking, "Everything sucks," to just thinking, "Well, my food intake sure sucked. If I'd had more to eat I probably could've held on and finished the race." And in another half an hour I'll be thinking about races to come. I couldn't have done that if I'd kept lying here in the dark listening to Gillian Welch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where You Run To.

So I'm kinda sick again, this time four days out from a medium-importance race. It's the same kind of sick that plagued me earlier this year, a sickness that leaves my throat sore, glands trying to burst out my neck and a weird tiredness that doesn't allow me to get to sleep. At least last time the Winter Olympics were on, and I got to watch some sweet snowboard 4X / Nordic skiing action. This time I'm trying to manage a new, full on training schedule, work, and some crappy fucking shit-league European soccer. I'm also in a strange kind of mood, one that makes every single comment made by anyone else anywhere seem like the most irritating kind of annoyance ever uttered, but which also makes every comment that I make seem so deeply profound and enlightening and original that I should really be rushing down to Dinkum's Photocopying right now and preparing flyers for mass distribution. But I'm not, because I'm not sure that Dinkum's is open this late, and also because I know that I'm sick and should be heading back to bed and commencing my eleventy-billionth attempt at sleeping in a couple of minutes. So at this point I'd like to apologise to the larger, non-blog reading population, for depriving you of the halluncinogenic insights that arrive only after hours of laying in bed trying to think of nothing at all. Sorry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Still The Same Old Story.

Every Planned Occupation.

So, Thursday was kinda a big day for me. First up I had some physiology testing with the good people at ERA. They were set to measure my VO2 Max, blood lactate levels, skin folds, and a whole bunch of other stuff. They'd also set my training zones out for me, so I can target those zones more effectively and train smarter rather than harder. All pretty cool stuff. But first I had to take the test. And let me tell you, sitting on a stationary bike with all manner of ridiculous head-and-face-wear attached to you isn't the easiest or most comfortable way to push pedals until you no longer can. I'm pretty sure I nearly blacked out at one point. Unconsciousness is obviously the desired outcome, however, because the assistant was pretty impressed by my results.

Second up was a long drive to Geelong to see John Hine at Cycle Edge Coaching Consultancy for some bike set-up hints and tips. My new coach had just given me his number and not mentioned any of his history - like the picture on the wall of John at the Olympics, or his win at the Warny in 1980 (looking at my track bike he casually stated, "Hmmm, yeah, I won the Warny on a track bike one year. Broke my road bike the week before and couldn't get it fixed in time..."). He also has a long history of coaching AIS and VIS athletes - definitely one of those quiet old guys who have been in cycling forever and have accumulated more knowledge than I could ever comprehend. As well as the set-up tips he gave me a whole bunch of pointers on breathing and pedalling technique, some of which may have come in handy that morning, but my favourite of which I'll share with you here:

"Every time you breathe in you want to make a little air baby with your abdomen."

Yes, that's right. I went all the way to Geelong to make myself an air baby.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Riding Out Tonight To Case The Promised Land.

So, halloween has come and gone. The smartest thing I heard anyone say was "if all these hardcore kids are wearing corpse paint, are all the black metal kids wearing beanies at the back of their heads?" This nicely sums up the vague sense of annoyance that I'm rocking about this particular holiday weekend. It's not much to do with halloween itself - I'm a big advocate of halloween parties, which somehow seem to live up to the hype every year - but is perhaps more about how we celebrate it.

This isn't one of those stupid fucking "Australia, don't become America" rants about how it's not one of our holidays. You know what else isn't one of our holidays? Christmas. It's here, the holiday itself is kinda rad, and it's time to embrace it. And most people seem to be ok with this. Unfortunately, being ok with this seems to mean posting up on Facebook a thousand pictures of you and your friends dressed up as zombies. Again, this is ok in small doses (certainly McKenny's Juggalo outfit this year demanded internet exposure). But when it starts to seem that the main reason you held your party was so that you can put pictures up on the internet, well, that's just irritating.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Shower Of Stones.

What's that? You didn't know about this ride until it was too late? Sucks to be you! And who dared say Melbourne's bike share scheme has been wildly unsuccessful?

I Wonder How You Sleep At Night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset, Blanketing Opinions That I'll Probably Regret Soon.

Man, I had such a shit night at the track last night. To start with, I put a longer stem on my bike, which a) is more comfortable and b) is way more aero, but which also changed my balance and the way that the bike handled. It's going to take a couple of weeks to get used to, not fifteen minutes of warm up. And then, during the racing, I just couldn't get my head into it. I've been in situations before where I've talked myself out of the race and not been aggressive enough, been too wary, let myself get stuck in the bunch rather than staying at the front and controlling the race, and that's pretty much how it went last night, with the added unpleasantness of some sketchy dudes in the mix. I did a lot of yelling last night, and when I'm doing a lot of yelling, it's a sure sign that things aren't working the way that they're supposed to. So I cracked them. I packed up my gear, changed out of my kit, wheeled my bike away.

And then went and sat on the judges table for the last race. Because PB Ladner wanted to go home early, and he was the only one able to ride the motorbike, the motorpace had been held second, leaving the points race to last. And the race definitely lived up to its improved billing. It was exactly the kind of race I like to be in - when the pace is high, the riders strung out, attacks coming thick and fast, forty laps on the rivet, elastic stretching, stretching, stretching, snapping. And I sat there and watched it.

Needless to say, sitting out that last race did nothing to improve my mood.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Opinions Were Like Kittens.

Last week my coach informed me that he was giving the game away. Like a lot of local cycling coaches, he also works a real job, and this real job is taking off in a way that doesn't allow much spare time. I gotta say, this left me a little bummed out. I'd been with him a year, and the programs he set me were working really well. I'd continued to achieve results on the track, and on the road had gone from getting dropped in B grade to winning A grade. I was looking forward to another couple of years, at least.

But I'd known it was coming, and had made preliminary inquiries. There were other coaches around, and some of them were pretty highly regarded. Eventually, after a cursory google search and a couple of phone calls, I decided to go with Brad. And I'm pretty excited about the goals we've discussed, and the programs he's going to lay out for me.

The whole process has been a bit of a rollercoaster, though. It's like breaking up with one girlfriend, then hooking up with another. Only this time your girlfriends are men in their mid- fifties. I guess some people are into that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


And here's another band I don't hate as much as I should. In fact, whenever I was out at some party in 2004, I'd be kinda stoked when a White Stripes song came on. Sure, I'd never buy a record, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying them.

Come On Wild Child.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Botheration Yeah.

On to less controversial topics: Here are some excellent records by Melbourne bands.

No shit, I've been loving this record lately. For about three months when I was seventeen it was played everywhere I went, but then it totally disappeared. Found myself thinking about it a few months back and a cursory internet search discovered this. Stoked!

I bought 180 degrees and 767 before I went to Canada the first time, and played them to death every time I wanted to feel like I was back in Melbourne. This came out while I was away, and I was a bit slow to the party, but it's by far their most accomplished record. I still skip over Cam's songs though. Sorry Cam.

There doesn't seem to be any images available online for South East of Syracuse by Providence, but it's one of my favourite records full stop. You can purchase it from Missing Link here, and if you're into math rock with a touch of Alice Donut, I'd suggest you do.

Sharing a drummer with Providence was One Inch Punch / Mid Youth Crisis. Happiness In Authority is by far their best record, but this discography includes it and Lost In What We Lack, as well as the stuff they did on the blazing split 7" with Sommerset.

If all of the members of a band are from Tasmania, can I call them a Melbourne band? Whatever. This record is epically bleak, and is perhaps the foremost example of what I like to think of as the Tasmanian 90s sound. You can also download it for free here.

And, lest you think I'm totally stuck in the 90s, here's My Disco's Paradise. Marcus summed it up best when he said, "it's all about the locked groove." This is perhaps my favourite record to ride to. Those consistently thudding rhythms mean cycling to me more than any Metallica record.

And, that might do me for today. If I think of any more I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fuck You I Won't Do What They Tell Me.

I've never really been one for adventure sports. Bungee Jumping, Extreme River Walking, Turbo Double Plus Hang-Gliding, Slingshot Karaoke Jam Basketball Dunking, whatever the combination of ridiculousness, my reaction has generally been a heartily scoffing, "meh". These sports seem to have been invented, appropriated, indulged in and enjoyed by the kind of tough-guy ex-college footballers who I really tried to avoid while I was at university. Above all, though, they always appeared to be a more blatant symbol of status and privilege than any limousine. It's as if the participants are bragging to the underprivileged: "Check it out! Our lives are so safe we get to invent danger for ourselves! Dude!"

And then they couple their bragging with a sweet corporate rock anthem about socking it to the man and post it on Youtube.

Those who died! Are justified! For wearing the spokecard, they're the chosen whites!
(apologies to Mr De La Rocha et al, even if every time I mention RATM I feel the need to link to this map explaining the links between major record labels and major arms manufacturers)

Now, I'm not in the best position to throw stones here - I've certainly raced in a lot of alleycats, and I'm not above inventing danger in my own life - just the other day, for example, the cat scratched me bad, just as I was in the midst of the second guitar solo in November Rain, pretending I was Slash, using the cat for a guitar. But let's face it, if your life is so safe that the only way you can cop an adreniline rush is by running red lights and playing in the traffic, well, perhaps you need to make your life less safe. Perhaps it's time to cut mummy's purse strings, for a start. Fuck, even Zach De La Rocha himself went and spent some time with the Zapatistas, learning first hand what it is to struggle together to survive. Riding your bike like a madman on the weekend then retreating to the safety of your mama's house in Malvern is not danger, kids, and nor is writing songs about smashing the state from a Manhattan boardroom. Like Tom Waits says, you have to risk something that matters, otherwise you're just another inventive jock with too much spare time on their hands.

Ps. If you're struggling for ideas, perhaps you should go to France, where the Sarkozy government is about to sick the riot cops on the biggest strikes since 1968. Time to stop idolizing the past, folks. History is what's happening right now. I only hope that this time around they produce more sweet posters, so I can get another tattoo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ain't Got No Sweater.

Oh man, I'm doing my first year of Arts at ANU all over again:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Don't Know What's Up There.

Until last night, I hadn't been back to the track for a bit over seven months. Hadn't raced, hadn't done a few easy laps, hadn't been on the boards at all. So last night I was a little bit nervous. And when tougher and tougher competition kept popping up through the tunnel, I was a little more nervous. It worked out much better than I expected, however, and I managed to end up on the podium in two out of three races. The odd one out was the points race (according to Old Mate, you know you're in good form when you feel good in the Points). I wasn't too upset by this, as it meant that I could sit back and watch others contest the sprints. Strangely, for someone as competitive as me, I often have more fun at the track when I'm not in the running. I get a little bit excited by audacious moves, by people unleashing enormous sprints, by the tactics as they happen. When you're at the pointy end you may come home with the money, but when you're at the back you learn more about other riders. I'm not sure which is more valuable in the long run.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

If I Could Start Again.

In the Brunswick Cycling Club clubrooms there's an honour board listing club champions on the road and track, members who have raced at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, and men and women who have served the club with such dedication that they have been declared life members. Like the club itself, the names on the board stretch back to 1916. There's an online version of it here, which is slightly more up to date. I'm new to all this, but it still means a lot, being a part of something with this much history. It connects you to other people, places you on a continuum, in a community. And though I've been playing it down, getting my name on that board - after winning this yesterday - means even more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Getting Dark, Too Dark To See.

Over time I've come to think of myself as what I like to call an "Early Resister". This is the polar opposite of an early adopter - you know, the first guy on your block with an iPad, or the guy that knew about that cool new band before you did. Instead of taking new ideas and embracing them, I tend instead to hear of a new idea and think, "That sounds dumb." And, as this blog attests, I'm not particularly shy when it comes to expressing my thoughts.

The upside to being an Early Resister is that sometimes, when something does prove to be a short lived fad, you dodge the bullet. So, for example, I never wore a pork pie hat (think 1993) or thought The Offspring were an ok band (1996/7). The downside to being an Early Resister is that a lot of the time you're wrong. In fact, I distinctly remember arguing with Pete Hyde about Email. I was, unfortunately yet unsurprisingly, arguing that it was dumb. "If I want to get in contact with someone," I remember stating forcefully, "I'll just write them a letter."

The first email I ever wrote was to Pete. It said, "Dear Pete. You were right. From Brendan."

Incidentally, I was telling someone else about being an early resister just the other day, and related the same anecdote. "How could you be so stupid?" he asked, "Arguing against email is like arguing against telephones." I agreed, and added that I probably would've done that too. When you're wrong so often you get pretty good at it.

With this all in mind I should probably confess that when it comes to nutrition - and food science as a whole - I largely thought that it was bullshit. I mean, I've been vegan for a very long time, so obviously I took note of my diet, but anything beyond "this has no animal products in it" was alright by me. There were two sensations within my body that I took note of: Hungry (aka Undesireable) and Full (Desireable). The journey to each particular destination was pretty irrelevant. As such, I've been on some pretty interesting food adventures - I've lived on peanut butter and jam sandwiches for two weeks; I've eaten fifty shoddy dumplings from Camy Dumpling House in one sitting; I've battled the vegan chocolate cake at Vegie Bar singlehanded and won; and I've tried my best to disprove the myth of the skinny vegan. None of them - well, apart from the Dumplings - made me sick, and I certainly didn't notice any change in my day to day 'performance'.

Nowadays, of course, I ask a bit more of my body. I started off simply eating a little more of what I was already eating, which meant that even though I was exercising a lot, I wasn't really losing any weight. So eventually I started paying a bit more attention to what went in my mouth. People had been recommending that I read this book for a long time, but initially, true to form, I thought it was dumb. Some of this initial skepticism was due to the fact that Brazier is a triathlete, and as a cyclist I'm hardwired to view triathletes as slightly below wombats in intelligence. Casey bought the book nonetheless, and eventually I - in a moment of weakness - picked it up.

Now, I'm not following the diet meal for meal, so I can't state unequivocally that it's fantastic and you should live by it forever and ever and ever amen. I have, however, made a few changes to my diet as a result of reading it - trying to have one big salad a day, drinking the energy smoothies, exploring the weird and slightly gross world of dried fruit, eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting out bread and coffee and processed food, and paying more attention to my recovery. Hell, tonight I even got busy with the food processor and made a whole heap of homestyle energy bars. And when I eat them, I'll be paying attention. So far, it's been working out pretty well.

So, I've said it once, and I'll say it again: I was wrong. Apparently it is important to eat well, and the Thrive book isn't dumb. There.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Does He Wonder Where I Am?

Today I was looking at the stats from this blog and realized that there were some pretty distinct disadvantages to having a blog with the word "fuck" in the title. So I changed it. Feel free to update your bookmarks, etc. Rest assured the content will not deviate from the usual self-indulgent drivel. Some things you just can't change.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stay Silent.

I was racing out near Kyneton today, on a course that I'd only ever been dropped on before this point. It was coming to the last climb and I was still feeling pretty good (probably thanks to this, with the addition of some of these wheels, courtesy of this guy - more on that later). I was starting to think about the sprint - there were two guys off the front, but it was definitely going to be on for third place. I think I even loosened off my brakes a bit. In the hope of covering any moves up the hill I'd gone to the front of the bunch, and was sitting there quite happily, before I started to hear this voice. Now, this was at the end of one hundred ks of racing, and I wasn't thinking real clearly at this point. "That's it," the voice was saying, in a disturbingly calm tone, "keep pushing it. Come on. Come on. Now drop down a gear. Come on. Big ring now, big ring. Out of the saddle now. Out of the saddle now. Come on. Come on. Smack it! Smack it!"

When eventually I blew (no similies this time, perverts) I was relieved to see that the voice belonged to Sean the Man, who took off up the hill without delay. I was also relieved to see that we'd shelled most of the other riders in the bunch. The Man ended up coming home third, taking some money off the organizers and sharing it with me.

There's a dubious moral in here, about how listening to the voices that could possibly be just inside your head leading to wealth and riches. Make of that what you will.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This Is What We Mean.

When we talk about pulling the pin on a ride.

To add insult to injury: You see that dark blob on the counter there, just above my saddle? That blob is my gloves. As far as I know, they're still there.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Come With It Now.

Handicap races I can handle, and hilly races I can handle, but the two together is a bridge too far for me at this point. Three laps into a four lap race and I was done. After being swooped by a magpie - the bastards always seem to know when you're at your most vulnerable - I had ample time to think about what would happen when I finally rolled in. People would ask, "What happened to you?" and I'd say, "Well, I blew up." But this wasn't good enough for me. If you're going to lose, you have to be funny about it. So I started thinking about similies to echo my predicament. Sean the Man is fond of using "I blew like a hooker," but I like to think I only use highbrow material, so I ruled that out. The obvious comparison with things that blow up led me down some other unsavoury laneways (like an English pub in Belfast...), but eventually I settled on, "I blew up like the Hindenburg," and repeated it ad nauseum.

Here's a pic of me attacking the Pastoria hill:

Oh the humanity.

The Man and I hit up the store on the way home. DC, obviously sick of hearing every similie we had amassed on the hour-long journey home, decided that I should have a better chance of not blowing up in the hills, and prepared for me my new bike. You can read about it (and see pictures of me camping up the place) here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Got My Body And My Mind On The Same Page.

I've been driving quite a bit lately. The combination of the weather, a particularly hard training regime and a number of road races out in the countryside means that I'm in the car quite a bit. I don't mind driving, but I don't think I'm the best in the world at it. I've run red lights here and there, been caught speeding, don't pay enough attention sometimes. I'm pretty paranoid about hitting a cyclist one day, but I can see how it might happen.

Which is why I've always believed that as a cyclist, being hit by a car is a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'. It's the same as being in an accident involving two drivers - errors of judgement inevitably occur when fallible idiots like me - and like everybody - are in control. It's just that when you're in a car and you hit another car as you pull out of your driveway, the only damage done happens to your wallet. When you're in a car and you hit a cyclist, that cyclist gets fucked up bad. We - me included - need to take extra care, be more patient, more vigilant. It's easier said than done, but the way I figure it, we have an obligation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mind The Generation Gap.

Today held a lot of firsts for me. First road open. First race longer than 100ks. First time I've dropped in on my sister and my niece on my way back from racing in Bendigo. First time I've started a handicap in a bunch containing riders for whom cycling is a profession. And the first time I've been able to keep up with the scratch bunch for any discernible amount of time. Yep, I've had my cherry popped in so many ways today you could stick me in a cocktail. It was not, however, the first time I've been dropped. And nor, unfortunately, will it be the last.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's Hard To Heal A Broken Heart.

So, it may be apparent that I'm pretty obsessed with cycling at the moment - way more than I've ever been before. But sometimes my obsession scares even me. Like, for example, when I was reading today's Cycling Tips Blog. It's about Chris Jongewaard and the time he spent in jail. Reading away, thinking 'Wow, that's pretty messed up,' which eventually led me to think, 'Man, if I had seven months away from all work and life pressures, maybe I'd come out of it all ready to smash the national road series'. That's probably not healthy, is it?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Civilian Casualties.

I used to want to be a road racer. It's true. When McNabb and Nath were trying to convince me to come down and try track racing, I told them no, I wanted to concentrate on the road. But eventually they suckered me in, and I kinda got addicted. Even with this addiction, however, I still remember being really freaking excited about the beginning of last year's road season. It took about two months for that excitement to wear off. The road was just too hard - I was getting dropped, getting cold and wet and sick, getting pissed off. It was obvious: I was a track rider. More than that - I was a sprinter. And when I first signed up with Rick, that's what I told him.

So I wasn't heaps happy when, after coming back from my break, I received my new program. Road racing. Every weekend. But I'm a willing pupil, and generally do what I'm told. I signed up for B grade and hoped I'd be able to hold on. I couldn't.

A few weeks went by. I did a mountain bike race, some crits, a lot of long hard ergo sessions on the wind trainer. In an attempt to actually find a road race each weekend I drove all over the place. I lost a lot of weight. The hills started getting easier and I started to learn how to suffer. And in some handicap held outside of Geelong I ended up on the podium. The next week, back with the Northern Combine, I made the top ten in another handicap. More results came in, I got bumped up to A grade, and I started thinking differently. I started thinking that maybe I could do this after all.

Of course, that led to choices, and lots of umming and ahhing. Some decisions don't come easy. I think I even lost a little sleep. Which I could've avoided had I just spoken to Rick straightaway. Aside from the Tour of Bright, Road season here seems to peter out around October, and he was all set to have me race road until at least then. And when I suggested that maybe I'd be better off as an endurance rider on the track, he fairly jumped at the proposal.

So now it's all settled. Road til October, perhaps culminating in the Melbourne to Warnambool. Then a couple of months of solid training on the track before the Christmas Carnivals - perhaps the Tasmanian versions. If you need me, you know where I'll be.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is It In Me?

I also gave up coffee. I've done this before - through the early 2000s I didn't have any coffee at all, until the need to stay awake through the night in a Coca-Cola free Cuba broke the edge - and so didn't think it would be too much of a big deal. But holy crap, those first few days were rough. It's no decision to go legal drug free, so I smashed a few Panadols in that time, let me tell you. Now that I've come through I'm pretty happy with my decision. I'm feeling a lot fresher, and don't doubt that having less caffeine in my system has resulted in a greater absorption of iron. At the same time, the intense pendulum swings of mood that define the coffee high - and its consequent low - have been mellowed out considerably, so I'm a much smoother customer these days. Smoothness doesn't lead to much late night frenetic blog posting though. Sorry about that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Gotta Go, I Gotta Go.

I don't know if I've posted this clip before. If I haven't, I should have. Now that I've seen it, whenever I'm chasing someone down, be it on the road, or in a crit, or on the track, I get this voice in my head. That's not something I need to keep to myself. I want that voice to be in your head too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Negative Vibe.

Hey, road racing isn't so bad after all. If it wasn't for some typical tardiness, I'd probably be tackling this this weekend. I know, I know. Road Opens. What the hell am I thinking? Well, sit down and let me tell you.

I scored a 7th place in this handicap race the other day. I figured it was probably an anomaly, that I was only able to hold on due to scratch coming past us, then sitting up. Nonetheless, the handicapper bumped me up to B grade. And on a fucking shitty as hell day last Saturday I was able to eke out a 2nd place. The handicapper called me as I was on the way home, asking for a race report. When I informed him of the results, he decided to bump me up to A grade. I told him to fuck off. Only time will tell what he does, but he's a pretty stubborn bloke at the best of times, so I expect to be riding against some pretty serious competition come the next Northern Combine scratch race.

When I finally made it to A grade on the track I made a couple of decisions. I'd finally purchase my own track bike, and I'd start entering Opens. And now the same should probably occur for racing the road. I've been searching on the internet all week for a new road bike - my current whip is a 90s steel Serotta with a front derailleur that keeps bending and leaving me stuck in the big ring. And now it's my job to start testing myself against some more intense competition. So, there's a road Open in Bendigo coming up, and another one in Shepparton in a month or so. Better to be a small fish in a big pond. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's better to play bass for Springsteen at Madison Square Gardens than pretend to be Springsteen in the cover band rocking out at the Croxton next weekend.

Fuck I love Springsteen.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Potholes In My Lawn.

This is one of the most brutal self-assessments I've seen. This kind of honesty is rare in any sport, let alone cycling, where braggadocio and self-promotion are as important as race results. Neil neglects to mention in this post that as well as being fucking strong, he shreds like Enron on the singletrack. Singlespeed worlds are waiting for you, brother.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Might Be Wrong.

I ran away to Germany once. My friend Christiane was living in Heidelberg, and I was messed up on some girl, so I figured I'd go see her. Well, at least I think I was messed up on some girl. I had with me two Modest Mouse records and a copy of Catcher In The Rye, so I must've been messed up on something. But it was a while back now, and the things you get messed up on tend to get a little messed up themselves as they get further away.

When I arrived she wasn't home, but she'd left a note informing me that as her housemate had left the country, I could stay in her room. I could also use her bike if I liked. The house was a pretty typical student flat, with new carpet and a strange toilet. The bike was a ladies step through that had seen better days. I pumped up the tyres, then took it out into the street and rolled around the neighbourhood until Christiane got home.

Her bike wasn't so crash hot either, but we rolled around town together for the next couple of weeks. It was summer and the weather was fine. We went swimming in the river and ate dinner on the balcony. More often than not we'd be joined by a bunch of her friends, all of them riding step-throughs or old road bikes, inevitably in poor condition. It didn't really matter though. The town was small and the roads were narrow and flat. If something broke down on the way to the river or a party or a cafe we'd find a bike shop and sort it out, or just lock the bike up and dink each other the rest of the way.

This happened to Christiane herself one afternoon. Her brakes were seizing up and the levers wouldn't spring back after she'd squeezed them. We didn't have much money though, so she suggested we go to this place where they loaned you tools and helped you with repairs. As we walked up there I tried to explain to her exactly how inept I am when it comes to tools, but she wouldn't have a bar of it.

We wandered into the place, which was set up in the courtyard of some cafe. I squirted some lube into the brake cables, gave them a squeeze, twisted the barrel adjusters a few times and that seemed to do it. It wasn't much. Anything more probably would've been beyond me. But she looked impressed. She stood beside me, a little closer than usual, said thank you, and slowly leaned over and kissed my cheek.

I think I might've actually blushed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Am Lacking Something.

Like, an understanding of how to apply google analytics.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Photos Of Myself.

Also, I don't know if you remember this, but there was a time around the late 90s / early 2000s where bands really, really wanted to be The Rolling Stones. I'm ok with that. Some times I want to be The Rolling Stones too.

Ain't No Party.

As per usual, I'm a bit late to the ball with this one, but this NSFW blog is easily one of the best things on the internet (or, at the very least, one of the best uses of Google Images). So good it has already spawned cheap imitations.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

From The Top Of The Hill.

More info here.

The racing will be set out like a classic six-day, with points accumulated in the scratch, keirin and flying lap counting towards a team's overall madison score.
As you can see from the link, Team Handsome were entered, but have withdrawn due partially to Ben's back being fucked, but also partially due to fear. There are - I think - three people on that list who are legitimately allowed to wear world champion stripes, as well as a smattering of state champions.

If you've ever thought about coming down to DISC to check out the racing, this will be the time to do it.

Coffee will be provided by Padre. And really, that's the most important part.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Draw Us Lines.

Oh man, I've been such a fucking internet demon this holiday weekend. See up there, just below the header? Those are extra website pages. And as much as I'm quietly proud of the Palmares page, the most exciting one for me is the Events page. There you'll find flyers of every event I've had a hand in organizing. In a subculture with a very short memory, I can't help feeling like it's important to document and preserve history like this. Yep.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Strap On The Feedbag.

I don't know what you spent your Saturday morning doing...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Living On A Little Too Much Information.

This is my second year of competitive cycling. Things are pretty different this time around. This time around I get up early in the morning in order to do a bunch of stretches and core strengthening exercises (some of which occur on a gigantic purple exercise ball). I barely go to shows. I've abandoned the brick-shaped breakfast cereal that served me well for over fifteen years in order to include more protein in my diet. I don't buy records. I go to bed early. When I go out for a ride I wear a heartrate monitor. I do ergo sessions on the indoor trainer on a Tuesday night, rather than race track. On Wednesday nights I go to pilates class, then get a massage.

Last year, when I was just learning the ropes, I was training hard, but it was like an addition to my regular life. This year I'm training smarter, and my regular life looks a bit different. I mean, that's ok. It's just different. And if it results in me going faster, well, that's pretty good. If not, well, I guess things are going to have to change yet again.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Up On Scrap Metal Hill.

Yes, I know you're excited. More info here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Every Ache.

I was going to write about my new heart rate monitor tonight, and how this year my aim is to train smarter, but then this song came on the stereo and derailed everything.

Instead I started thinking about all the time I spent standing on the side of that highway, waiting for some car to stop and pick me up. Mostly thinking about the first time I lived in Canada, before I shacked up with Kim H. I was based in Kingston, which isn't really anywhere, but which is close enough to everywhere else to make you want to go there. Standing on the side of that road, heading through the rocks and scrub of the Great Canadian Shield, heading east to Montreal - or beyond that, even, all the way to Halifax - there was a sense of opening up, of possibilities that grew broader and broader with each passing kilometre. The country was vast and the people generous. I felt like I could travel into open space forever.

I told you that story so I could tell you another one. When I lived in Kingston I was friends with a bunch of people from all around the world. We'd been thrown together by our shared circumstances and were making a pretty good job of it. A few weeks in and I'd never had better friends. One night, however, a bunch of girls from the UK weren't present.

"Where's Maggie and KA and them?" I asked Texas Pete.
"They've gone to Toronto to pick up Gwyn."

(I'm not making these names up)

"What? How come? What happened?"
"I'm not sure. She called up, and they all went and hired a car then drove off."
"Yeah, right. Ok."

I often wonder about that drive. It was the middle of winter. As they set off they must've been nervous, driving that one straight line into a strange country, into a situation they weren't quite sure of. The quiet probably set in pretty early on. They would've looked at each other in the lights of passing trucks, watched as the condensation from their breath settled on the inside of the window, then turned to ice. But then I imagine some nervous chatter, some song they all know coming on the radio, some sense of purpose establishing itself with each truckstop and Tim Horton's. I wonder what they talked about, what stories they told each other in order to stay awake.

I don't remember any more of the story than this. I don't know what happened when they arrived, or even what happened when they returned. There's some stupid poem written about it in my journal, that's all. So I can tell you the date. It was the 30th of January, 2001.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Smell A Riot Goin On.

Sometimes, out riding on muddy trails, you look like you ate shit, even when you didn't. Damoh probably wouldn't get so much dirt in his teeth if he wasn't always smiling while riding.

The Woods Point ride HMC had been planning fell through - due in part to me being slightly under the weather - but this meant that I was supposed to ride a road race today. In anticipation of three days on the SSCX bike, however, I'd taken my road bike in for a service. Two strikes. So I figured that a decent blast on the Yarra Trails would do the trick. So the word went out - 8.30 meetup at the Guide Dogs, 4hrs minimum. Rolling over the Chandler Highway bridge I was happy to see that eight men had answered the call. This included four riders on CX bikes. Those four were going to have a hard day.

The extra time up our collective mud-caked sleeves meant that we were able to keep going into Westerfolds, which must be the raddest place I've ever ridden. Twisty tangly singletrack heaven. The four on CX bikes were now three, and those three were having a rough time of it - with the exception of Jeremy, who was totally schooling me up those hills. Dan's excellent advice had me bashing through the puddles with more confidence, however, and I was able to keep up with him most of the time. Huw, on the other hand, was destroying the trails, and as such spent a lot of time waiting for the rest of us muppets to catch up.

For the first time in recent memory I managed to stay upright on the dirt. Of course, this is a technicality - one time, fucking up my line through a puddle, I lost it altogether and fell on Dan. He didn't seem to mind, and I escaped the day crash free. No small part of me coming out of this ride unscathed was the bike I was riding - in anticipation of this next weekend, DC loaned me a sweet Specialized XC, with gears, fat tyres and suspension front and back. It fucking ruled. Sure, dualies have a reputation for being the bike most chosen by fat old dudes, but man, it made those trails so much easier. And, like DC said when I picked it up, if the technology exists, why not use it?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hungry People Don't Stay Hungry For Long.

I got the call when I was in a "meeting" over coffee this morning. "I think we should start back up earlier than planned," it said, "we're going to get you into the gym, work on your core strength, do a lot of endurance efforts."

Purely by coincidence, I'd been doing some maths earlier in the day, and figured out that I was actually planning to have seven weeks off, rather than six. Six weeks didn't sound like too long - that's about how much time I get off work over summer - but seven weeks sounded like a long time. A lot of hours in front of the TV, watching Masterchef and eating the terrible chips Casey's mum keeps buying us. A lot of time for muscles to atrophy and bellies to swell. Sure, I've been belting around the trails occasionally, and doing Pilates twice a week, but it's not the kind of sustained physical punishment I've come to know and love.

So I was kind of missing it anyways, and wasn't too disappointed when the call came. It's not going to change too many of my plans for this month - I'm still hoping to do this on Sunday, this the following weekend, this the weekend after that and then, on the last Sunday of the month, this. After all that though, I'll be doing exactly what the coach says - nothing more, nothing less.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Your Cuppa's Getting Cold.

Today's CX lessons:

1) It's important, even if you've just completed a sweet descent, to always pay attention to your line. Otherwise, you will eat shit. Possibly at high speeds, and probably right on top of the bruises you scored when you ate shit two days ago.

2) Cyclocross tires are not equivalent to proper mountainbike tires in wet and muddy conditions. Ignore this and you will eat shit, probably while doing something stupid, like trying to flick out the back wheel in order to improve your line.

3) Always try to get your sponsor's logo in the picture. That's it on the down tube, underneath some mud.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Don't Talk To Sun Reporters.

Saturday morning grab-bag:

Eleanor of Helmets Are Hot fame is in the running to become the Melburn-Roobaix 'Black Sheep'. You can vote for her extremely witty and well-presented entry here. She's number four.

I just read on No Whip that a woman by the name of Deanna Adams is riding the Arizona Trail 750, which is a 750 mile race through some pretty intense country, and furthermore is self-supported - you have to carry your own gear. There's even a stage where you have to carry your own bike. If that doesn't sound crazy enough for you, she's doing it fixed. And you thought you were tough because you finished Escape from the Suburbs last week.

Warburton Cycle Fest is next week, and I strongly encourage each and every one of you to make the trek out there for some awesome bike fun. You could even catch the train to Lilydale then take the rail trail from there. I'll be racing in the CX race on Sunday morning - god I hope they have a singlespeed category - and Nik and I will be organizing the 'Fixie Omnium' later in the day.

And, finally, to put a nice lid on the "Women What Kick Ass" theme that has developed here, the Thursday Night Ladies Ride is taking off again. They're a pretty damn awesome crew of female cyclists, and if you happen to tick both of those boxes you should rock up.

Against The Laws Of Physics.

Two weeks into my CX-themed break and every ride I discover something new. Yesterday was a double.

Lesson One: If you're going to bunnyhop off a curb, you can't land on too much of an angle. The sideways force will result in a rolled tire, and you will eat shit.

Lesson Two: You can't hit the edge of a concrete block at pace. A pinch flat and a dented rim will result. You will also, once again, eat shit.

On the ride DC asked me if I'd like to be part of a team for the Beechworth 6-hour Enduro. I'm not quite sure what possessed him at the time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Free Soup Daily.

I may have mentioned recently that during this break from training I've been having a lot of fun riding around on the trails. The amount of fun I've been having is nicely illustrated by these two diagrams.

1) The way I used to ride home:

2) The way I ride home now:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So Versatile.

So, I guess this is a review, of sorts.

In 2007 - hell, maybe it was even 2006 - I bought a Redline 925. For about six months I rode it as it was - like a commuter bike, with fenders and a freewheel. Eventually I stripped it down and flipped the wheel to make a sweet fixie. The frame acquired more stickers in this period, as well as some new parts. My involvement in the fixie community grew and I raced - and placed - in more and more alleycats. This led to track racing, and while for the most part I raced on a track bike, I trained two or three times a week on the 925. That's a lot of laps. I think I even raced it at the club championships.

At some point I hooked up with a bunch of guys and rode it from Sydney to Melbourne, partially fixed, partially singlespeed. We cruised along the coast and did 1100ks in six days.

Right now I'm having a break from track training, and to refresh my love of biking I've rejigged the bike once again. Flipped the wheel back to a singlespeed, threw on some cyclocross tyres and riser bars, and am running front and rear brakes. The bike is perfect for getting dirty, bashing through the singletrack and cruising the fire roads. All of a sudden I'm talking like a snowboarder, telling folks I'm 'stoked' and that the trails were 'gnarly'.

I'm pretty sure that the bike wasn't intended for all of these different uses, but what the hell. It has served me well over the past three or four years, and will likely continue to do so in the years to come.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Best Friends.

A long time ago Nik Cee mentioned to me a race that he had run in Vancouver. He does that a lot, but this one seemed to stick out. It started in some far-flung suburban hellhole and ended back in the coddling warmth of the innercity. The idea itself was appealing enough, but what really roped me in was the name: Escape from the Suburbs.

This ride would be a little different to a regular alleycat. It was essentially a road race held on public roads – the start, checkpoint and finish would be announced in advance, giving riders a chance to plan their routes well in advance. Traffic would barely be an issue, as there would be long stretches of road without lights, intersections or cars. The winner would be the strongest rider with the best route.

A plan was put into place, a sweet flyer produced, and a few months down the track Blakey, Nik and I were on the platform at Clifton Hill station, waiting for the train to take us to Hurstbridge. Our lone checkpoint, Matty Bowen, swung by to talk some shit, speculate about potential winners and pick up the raffle tickets that riders would be given when they met up with him. These raffle tickets would put each rider in the running for a sweet fixie frame from CellBikes, as well as proving they had hit the checkpoint. Win-win.

The extent of our undertaking begun to reveal itself on the train. We’d planned to get there ten minutes before rego opened at two, but apparently a lot of others had planned the same. To make our lives a little easier we opened rego on the train, and handed out some badges (because spokecards are so played out). The train also took a long time. As the miles passed the scenery became more and more rural. Folks were a long way from home, and probably wouldn’t be too familiar with the terrain. We started to wonder if people would get lost forever, or get overwhelmed at the foot of a hill and simply give up, or bin it on one of the descents.

These concerns were put aside as we stepped out into the glorious Hurstbridge sunshine. There was a strong northerly blowing, which put a further smile on the faces of riders. We started registration, and quickly realized that we hadn’t made enough badges. We only had 70, and with one train still to arrive before the 3 o’clock kick off we were down to 6 badges. This problem was overcome by taking a distasteful page from the triathlete’s handbook – we wrote numbers on people.

There were, however, a few folks who looked comfortable with the big black numbers now gracing their arms – triathletes. With aerobars, deep dish carbon rims, and cue-cards taped to their forearms.

These folks were nicely contrasted by the usual assortment of hipsters with asymmetrical haircuts, teenage boys with roadbike conversions and aerospokes, hardcore fixie kids in trendy jerseys, and a handful of roadies.

One of these, in full Mapei kit, told us that he was on the way back from Kinglake and decided to check it out. The Brunswick Cycling Club A Team gave everyone a lesson in warming up by riding their bikes to the start – from Brunswick. Shifter Dan rolled up on his C-Record equipped hoopty bike. Andy “TC” White was seen on his roadie. Jay and Coopz rocked matching jerseys from Steady Rollin Crew.

A handful of women from the Thursday Night Ride crew formed a tight knit bunch – for the time being. Vanessa and Campbell rocked up together and were looking fast. Some kid – Eugene – was wearing a bright red cowboy hat instead of a helmet, but was quickly convinced that this was a bad idea. The Knog crew looked like they’d form a united front. In the end we registered 101 riders. Folks scooted over to the general store for last minute bottles of Powerade

and then milled around until briefing.

Briefing was mercifully kept quite short – riders were informed once again where the checkpoint would be – Doncaster Shoppingtown – and that presentations would occur at the museum at 5.30. If they were still rolling around the suburbs at 5 they were instructed that they should head home. They were then introduced to a new idea – the rolling start.

In order to avoid the chaos that usually marks the beginning of alleycats, riders all rolled out of Hurstbridge station together, forced (under threat of disqualification) to stay behind myself and Nik. Once Nik blew his whistle riders were free. As we came out of the station the cars banked up behind us. It was like we were the cool cousin of Critical Mass. Some roadie types, perhaps used to neutralized early miles, made their way to the front. When all riders were out of the station and on to the main road Nik blew his whistle and they were off.

Nik, Blakey and I went back to the station and cracked open some chips. Our train rolled in and one last rider jumped out. “Are you doing rego for Escape from the Suburbs?” He asked. “Am I too late?” We told him no and signed him up. “The checkpoint at Doncaster is going to leave at 4.30” I told him. “That won’t be a problem,” he replied, and took off.

The train seemed to take a long time to return to Clifton Hill. About twenty minutes in we started receiving text messages.
-101 riders? That’s insane!
-No one here yet.
-Traffic is HEAVY at this intersection. Lots of cops around.
-Andy just came through, then Brunswick. Andy went the wrong way!
-Brunswick through. No sign of Dan
-Dudes are walking up the hills
-I’m really spewing I snapped my roadie now (from Matty Bowen)
-Ben Ladner 1st, Sam 2nd. No sign of Andy
(phone call from Andy asking where the finish is. The museum, he was told.)
-Can’t wait 2 hear 1st fixed (one gear, one category – first fixed was Sam McGregor!)
-28 have come in
(phone call from Matty telling us some kid binned it on the hill into Doncaster. The kid is up and talking, but a bit shaky)
-45 are in. Vanessa first girl.
-see you in 5.

We exit the train and, with a quick detour to Nik’s to pick up the prizes, fairly gun it to the museum. When we roll up Tara tells us to go check in. Everyone looks a little wrecked. It’s only about 4.30 – there’s an hour til presentations, and riders are still coming in. This gives us a chance to talk to the riders, hear their stories and meet new friends. Some worlds are definitely colliding – roadies are talking to fixie hipsters, moderators are comparing routes with trolls, men in full lycra kits are putting the hard word on women in cut-off jeans. It’s one of the reasons we were so keen to do this race – that it would appeal to a broad cross section of the cycling community – and seeing it happen is heartening to say the least.

When 5.30 came around we presented the following prizes:

DFL went to Tom, who sat around for ten minutes before checking in with Dawn and Casey at the finish.

The doofus award went to Eugene, for trying to attract cops with his cowboy hat. We gave him a helmet. He was later seen wearing it.
Most inappropriate bike went to Justin, who rode his Euro pursuit with a rear disc, no brakes and a dodgy lockring.
Biggest sacrifice to be there went to Beaker, whose wife was going into ‘pre’-labour that day.
Best Team went to the Thursday Night Ladies Crew

Oldest rider went to Mulger Bill, but probably should’ve gone to John. We gave them both prizes.
Youngest rider went to ChrisMark1.
Best attitude went to Giles, because he was number 48 and feeling great!
Best outfit – judged by Jona Gunn (pictured) of Coffee Supreme - went to Mapei Man, whose real name I think was Tim.

First noob went to Ollie ‘Fairtrade’ Phillips.

The one-gear podium looked like this:
1. Samuel Wallace McGregor (also his first race, but we couldn’t give him a noob award as well…)
2. Jay ‘Z’ Dougrey
3. Matt Gray

The women’s podium looked like this:

Left to Right:
1. Vanessa (also in her first race!)
2. Sarah Maree McNabbalinski
3. Jess (also in her first race!)

And the men’s podium looked like this:

Left to Right:
3rd - Jay 'Z' Dougrey
1st - Ben 'PB' Ladner, aka Brother Handsome
2nd - Samuel Wallace McGregor

These folks took home some pretty sweet prizes:

And Travis won the raffle! Travis not pictured. This is Kimmy Lees, barrel girl extraordinaire.

Thanks of course go to the organizing committee, Matty Bowen for manning the checkpoint out in the badlands, Dawn and Casey for keeping control of the finish – often in the face of disrespectful teenage boys (is that a tautology?), Tara Jayne for making both the inflammatory flyer and the badges, CellBikes for providing a frame, a wheelset and thousands of other little bits and pieces for us to give out, Natasha from Crumpler for continuing to support dodgy-looking dudes who want to put on bike races, Jona at Supreme for coffee and playing fashion judge when put on the spot, Kimmy Lees for pulling raffle tickets out of her brother’s hat and screeching out the numbers, DC at Fitzroy Revolution for the helmet, Brent “Velcro” MacKenzie for the Tattoo Voucher, the Littlest Baker for very well-received cupcakes, the people of Hurstbridge for being patient in the face of so much bike traffic, and everyone else for riding, sweating, occasionally walking, sometimes vomiting, constantly smiling and generally having a good time.

Photos c/o Blakey and Chaz. Used without permission, as per usual.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dugs. Digs. Dug.

This is how interviews should be conducted.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Had It Right Here, Now It's Gone.

Oh man, I'm so wrecked right now. The omnium has come and gone. I knocked another second off my kilo time (1.11.?), finally broke twelve seconds over the flying 200 (11.7) and did a weird middle distance two kilometre pursuit in about two and a half minutes. Scrounged a second in the scratch and the points and came home with a medal. Pretty happy with that.

But what I'm even more happy about, in my current state of exhaustion, is the next six weeks. In which I intend to still ride my bike, but without any intensity whatsoever. As I mentioned here, my body needs the rest. I'll roll around, do some long rides, sleep late on the weekend and drink more coffee. If you've barely seen me for the past twelve months, now would be a good time to give me a call.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Somebody's Sins, But Not Mine.

There's a little event being planned over here, but you better be quick - I hear it's almost fully subscribed. I would've missed out myself but for a quick call from Mr White.