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.