Monday, April 25, 2011

I Wanna Chew My Bubbly Gum.

Been a bit serious lately, so here's a slightly less intense anecdote. In track races your legs are constantly in motion, and for the most part you don't really get out of the saddle. In longer races this can create an issue for one's genitalia. To be precise, sometimes your wang gets a little numb. This is no big deal whatsoever - track races are never long enough to do any permanent damage. When you finally get off the bike, however, all the blood rushes back into those precious areas and you end up with half a bar.

If it was a bigger race, and you placed, this tends to coincide with the time you need to go stand on the podium.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

You Spend Yourself Boy.

While I'm not in the habit of excessively reflecting on races, I think about this one a lot. Unlike most state championship races, this one involved some of the best track enduros in Australia. I probably shouldn't have been there. When Stu Vaughn and I rolled up to the fence Brendan Schultz even turned to us and asked what we were doing. "I don't know," I told him, "but our names are on the start list."

It was the end of the Austral and I was already pretty spent. I'd even considered not starting, but was talked into it by my coach (well, mocked until I agreed to do it would probably be more accurate). I hadn't been that stoked on the Austral as a whole, had already scored a B grade win, and was pretty much ready to go home. So I rolled out with pretty low aims: to make it to half way. The race was 60 laps and I figured I'd pull out at 30. I also wanted to ride an honest race, to pull my half-lap turn whenever it fell to me, to do my share of the chasing when there was someone away, and to not chop or hook anyone.

The racing was hard. No one really got away, but there were surges, attacks, constant changes in the pace. As the laps wore on more and more people dropped out. While someone suggested later that I shouldn't have spent so much time on the front, that was the one time I could control the race - it meant that no one else could make me pedal harder than I wanted to. 30 laps went by and I wasn't quite finished, so my aims changed: now I wanted to be the last B grader in the race.

Matt Keenan was doing the commentary, and each time I hit the front he sounded more and more surprised, until finally I heard him exclaiming that, "Brendan Bailey is somehow still hanging in there!" Even in my semi-delerious state I remember thinking, "Fuck you Matt Keenan! I'm going to finish this fucking race!"

It didn't quite work out that way. With 9 laps to go Glen O'Shea attacked. The selection was being made and I wasn't in it. Former Euro Pro and current B-grader (at Open level) Tom Leaper - who was apparently once in a breakaway in the Giro d'Italia with one Lance Armstrong - was still in the bunch. It didn't matter. Fozzy Bear could've been in the bunch and I wouldn't have been able to go with them. I was spent. I went and sat down in the infield and wasn't able to get up again for a good five minutes. I sat and stared and didn't think about anything.

Now I think about it whenever I'm suffering out on the road. Whenever I'm training and I'm all by myself in the middle of fucking nowhere with filthy douchebags buzzing me in their V6 utes and I still have an hour to go and it's absolutely killing me. I think about putting the pressure on the pedals and how, in that 60 lap race, there came a time when I simply couldn't do it any more. I think about how I could've shown all of them - the sell-out Austral crowd, representatives of four or five different state institutes of sports, Schultzy, Matt Keenan, everyone - that some dirty fixie hipster with a bad back and dodgy tattoos could take it to the best in the country. But I didn't. So I push harder.

To Be A Trucker's Wife. To Be A Sailor's Girl. To Be Left Behind.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bon Soir, Regret A Demain.

Jet Propelled.

The memories get blurred, the timelines fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure I was at this show. It's a bit strange, seeing footage of shows you were at. I mean, I'd committed this show to history, told stories about it, reminisced from time to time about how freaking rad it was. And now here it is, in all of its blistering glory, for me to experience in the present. Youtube man. It's like a time machine.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tom, Get Your Plane Right On Time.

Until 5pm today, when I'm due at the Gym, I have absolutely nothing to do. I might head down to the shops, buy some new jeans, put a new chain on the road bike, tidy up the house. You know, basic TCOB stuff. But that reminds me that this blog needs to be taken care of. So here we go: my first ever school holiday TCOB special. Look at all these links!

First of all, you should follow me on twitter, in order to receive such insights as "bombers then flanders. good day for TV sport." or, even more incisively, "just heard smells like teen spirit on melbourne's classic rock. i am officially old." If you like dull training updates and imprecise weather reports, it's a hell of a ride.

Secondly, the advice section is taking off quite nicely, with some folks even sending in real questions. But this won't last long if you folks don't keep sending in questions. Hit a brother up. If you need mechanical advice don't fear - I won't answer those questions myself, but will forward them on to Sean the Man for his expert opinion.

Thirdly, after already overcoming one training setback, I was pretty bummed out to consider that I may be facing another. A week ago my bike developed a creak. Despite Andy's advice (how do you solve a creaking noise? Turn your iPod up.) I went down to the store to have it checked out. And was there for the next five hours. The boys regreased and replaced all the important bits - different bottom bracket, different cranks, different pedals, different rear wheel - and the bloody thing just got noisier. I was there so long they bought me lunch. The consensus was that it was the frame, and that I should come back during the working week to discuss a replacement. I left a dejected man.

So I took it away on holidays with me, followed Andy's advice, then took it back in upon my return. DC had a quick look, flexed the frame a bit, produced the noise, took out the front skewer, greased it up and eliminated the creak. The process took about thirty seconds. He didn't buy me lunch, but I still could've kissed him.

Next up is my new favourite school holiday activity: screwing around with surveys. You'd think, after the Cyclist of the Year debacle, that people would be wary of allowing respondants to write in their own answers to questions. But some folks never learn. As such, I'll ask you to respond to this survey for Ride Cycling Review (actually a pretty good mag), and when it asks you who you would like to see on the cover, please write in "James Kent". You could also win a fancy carbon bike worth a whole lot of biscuits, so it's totally worth your while.

Finally, it's lovely out, but this autumnal gorgeousness ain't gonna last. If I were you I'd ride my bike down to Rathdowne Street and sit out the front at Tre Biccieri, watching the bikes go by until the afternoon turns cold. Hell, I may even see you there.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Come On Feet.

Oh man, how the hell did I ever make it through track season? The programs I had all that time ago - like, a whole month now - were so much harder than what I'm faced with now. Seriously, the one I got at the start of this month looked so mellow that I considered calling up my coach and asking him to make it harder. I'm freaking glad I didn't. People, I'm dying here. My legs hurt from the gym, my lungs hurt from the ergos and, well, everything hurts from the road miles. This afternoon on the way out to Whittlesea I wanted to scream "This shouldn't be this hard! I only took three weeks off!" into the Plenty Road traffic. It always surprises me how much fitness falls away in such a short period of time. And it's never a good surprise, like finding five dollars scrumpled up in the receipts section of your wallet. No, it's more like picking up a wallet on the ground and finding out someone has pooped in it*. You know, you'd be all like, "Hey, sweet, I found a wallet!" and then you'd be too grossed out for comprehension. Yeah, that would be pretty bad.

*Disturbingly, this is based on a true story, and the perpetrators' names have been left out because it's fucking gross and I don't like to think of anyone like that ever.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How You Going To Kick It?

Hey, Sime left some root beer in my fridge. I'm perhaps the only straight edger in the entire universe who doesn't like root beer. If you like root beer, you should come around and drink it for me. Especially if you are Sime and you're still thirsty.

On to other matters now: I've started training again, and despite my body being in a constant state of soreness, I'm still totally stoked on it. Last night I was belting it home through Newport, trying to keep my heartrate in the right zone despite the enforced breaks of traffic lights, cars and railway crossings. It wasn't a totally hard ride, but it was a level of intensity I hadn't touched for almost a month now. And it was fun as shit. Tomorrow's three hours on the road - and the three and a half hours on Sunday - should involve me crashing back to Earth, gritting my teeth through each passing minute, but until then, I've never been happier to be back.

After that three and a half hours on Sunday I'm taking off to a part of the country without internet or mobile phone reception. It does, however, receive signals from SBS Broadcasting, so I'll still be able to watch the John Pilger / Paris-Roubaix double on Sunday night (radical politics and competitive cycling in one night!), but I'm sorry to say I won't be able to come to any of your parties. Bummer. I'll be back on Thursday though, and will be down to party immediately thereafter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

There Are Others. Others Just Like Me.

Hey, Coffee Ben needs you to vote for him. He's trying to get to the World Barista Championships in Bogota, Columbia. Ben loves coffee and loves bikes. Therefore, Columbia and him are a perfect match. You can vote for him here. Yes, I know you have to register and log in and you'll probably be sent crappy emails about coffee for eternity, but it's worth it. He's a sweet frickin' dude.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Opinions Were Like Kittens.

So, new page, up there on the right, entitled "Ask Mr B", which I'm never known as in my professional life. However, I kept getting asked questions like, "How do I get into track racing?" over and over again, so I figured I'd post it once and direct people to that location thereafter. But then I realized there were a lot of different questions, and that there were probably questions I hadn't thought of yet. So I've opened it up. Check it out and send in a question.