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.