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.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Consider It A Measure Of My Humanity.

I don't know Marx (well, other than Karl and his brothers Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo), but I gotta love his attitude to racing.

The best thing about this is, he keeps coming back.

"The thing is, winners do it easy. They have support, natural talent & people cheering for them, slapping them on the back all the time, getting awards, trophies & prizes for just about everytime they throw a leg over a bike.

But me, I’m rolling through when people are packing up. When I look at results I always start at the bottom & work my way up. No one to cheer me on, or pass me a biddon. I have to lay my bike on the ground in the pits, I get the dirt in my face & cop all the rutts. I take the B line & have to walk the tricky bits when course is blocked with riders. I have to pick up after myself & pack it all away at the end of the day. I know every km of the drive back from Mt Beauty & Forrest after a long, long ride. I wash my bike, my gear, clean out the camping gear & vacuum the car so my wife can use the car the next morning. I know how much brake pads & cassettes cost & how long it takes to fit them. My hands are always dirty. When I get caught in the rain, I have to ride home in the rain. In winter I ride at night because I have to do everything else during the day."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Don't See Us.

This guy takes sweet photos and seems kinda stoked when they appear on other people's facebook pages. He doesn't ask any money for them and doesn't make any money from them. I guess that's one way to go about doing things if you're going to use other people's images for your art. I'm ok with this.

This guy also takes sweet photos. I once called him up to see if I could use one of me on my facebook. He said "Fifty Bucks!" but was just taking the piss, later confiding that I was perhaps the first person to ever actually ask him, after years of seeing them crop up all over the internet. The photos are watermarked, and the watermarks lead viewers back to his blog. His blog makes money from advertising. Although he occasionally has dubious taste, I'm also ok with this.

This lady sometimes also takes a good photo, but is pretty keen on you not using her photos without paying, which kind of makes her the cycling photography version of Metallica. But boy, does this rub me the wrong way. It raises all sorts of question about who owns the image, especially when the image is taken as seperate from the artistic representation of it. There are lots of photos of me in her various galleries. Does she have the right to profit off my image? I'm not sure. But like Metallica she seems to be picking the wrong demographic to complain about. Metallica fans were generally also Napster users - dorky white teenage boys - and these fans deserted the band in droves after the suit succeeded. The people that Ms Cole is asking to cough up are the people in her photographs (and incidentally, are also - generally - dorky white boys), and if they ask her not to photograph them - or keep stealing her photographs until she decides not to take pictures of them - then she won't have anyone left to shoot.

Don't get me wrong. I've got no issue with people wanting to make money from their art. But in this digital era, taking photos of people and then asking them to buy them off you seems almost quaint, like a scam some hustler would try in a third world city. Like musicians before them, photographers are being forced to think of new ways to make a profit. And that's alright - perhaps even a good thing - but there's not much worse than hearing someone complaining about being left behind.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not By Pennies, Dimes Or Quarters.

Punk's not dead. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps it is and we should quit living in the past. Or perhaps it is, and that's a good thing, because it has morphed (and continues to morph) into something more interesting. Punk, however, doesn't have layers of bureaucracy, administrative bodies, government subsidies - punk is not, despite the best efforts of a bevy of major corporations, institutionalized. Perhaps this why punk, in its different forms, continues to thrive.

Cycling, unlike punk, is institutionalized, which is why it ends up in situations like this or this. It's pretty easy, however, to simply blame the governing bodies in question. That's how things work in an institution - when something goes wrong, you blame those above you. But perhaps, if cycling - and in particular track cycling - is going to continue, we need to think more like punks. We need to take events out of the hands of the institutions and run them ourselves. The events we run and the track cycling we race won't look the same as the events and races that have been organized by Cycling Victoria and Cycling Australia over the past one hundred years, but they will be more inclusive, more vibrant and, what's more, they'll be ours. For us, by us.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This Broccoli's Dead.

Also this:

Maybe She'll Come Back To Me.

My relationship with handicap racing is a relationship that features the odd moment of glory, with a whole lot of domestic violence in between. And like a battered spouse I keep going back for more, you know, because it might just work out this time.

My first handicap races were in Bendigo, at the Madison Weekend. I'd had a win in a scratch race, and was feeling pretty confident. The outcomes quickly destroyed this confidence. Pretty much my whole family had come out to watch, and my brother Miguel captured the moment perfectly when he informed me that I had just been "swallowed up like a hamburger". Because I'm still something of a newcomer in this game, I generally get a pretty decent mark, which only really works ok until the backmarkers come through like a steamtrain, express to the finish, not taking any passengers.

I say that I generally get a decent mark, but that's only generally true. My first road race was a handicap. By the time the road season rolled around I was riding in A grade at on Tuesday nights, and someone, somewhere obviously equated success on the track to success on the road. I was with a pretty fierce group, and got dropped after about fifty kilometres, suffering some fragrant humiliation in the process.

Occasionally, though, things work out. If there's enough distance between your group and the next; if everyone in your group is prepared to work their arses off; if the groups behind you aren't particularly well organized; if you get a good push; if you're lucky, then you may be able to stay away. And this was the case in the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Saturday night. I was with a bunch of guys I knew, and who I knew would be able to keep the pace pretty high. There was forty metres between my group and the next. And we worked our arses off. With about two hundred metres to go my training partner Joel 'Chopper' Leonard came past. I expected him to be leading a train of Olympians, Six-Day Racers and World Champions, but they were nowhere to be seen. So I hit it. So did the two guys in front of me. I saw Chopper cross the line, his fists in the air, and must've sat up a little bit, which allowed Barry Forde to pip me for forth by a tire. Still, fifth in the Melbourne Cup on Wheels is ok by me. Even if it means I might not stay in the frontmarkers group for much longer.