Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sure Fire Disappointment.

On the ergo this morning I spent some time staring at the logo on my new tubular Shamals. It more or less looks like this:

The rims are a bit scuffed up though, and could do with a polish. Polishing, however, means that I'd need new labels. I got to thinking, however, that the word Shamal doesn't really mean anything to me, and that it would be cooler if they said something else. Like Straight Edge.

So I got on a well-known internet forum that a number of designer-types are understood to frequent and asked that someone redesign the Shamal logo to say Straight Edge. To sweeten the deal, I offered $10 to the best effort, in the belief that $10 is about a week's pay for these people.

The designs are still coming in, but here's what has appeared so far:

It's a pretty tough competition so far, hey? If you're interested in adding to the hilarity, or would like to earn $10, feel free to also send your effort to brendanrocks at hot mail dot com.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All The Familiar Things Undone.

Any day now I'm going to be announcing a cupcake sponsor. No, not the cupcakes you make when you catch a fart then throw it at someone. The cupcakes you eat. Although that could also apply to the former scenario. But you know what I mean.

Anyways, take that, pro-cycling teams! I'm breaking new sponsorship grounds right here. You don't see freaking BMC racing with a nice little outline of a cupcake on their shoulders, do you? I wonder if there's a reason for that. Who knows, cupcakes may have saved HTC. Sure, they may not have won as many races, due to the additional weight of copious cupcake consumption, but they still would have been a team.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Plain Gold Ring.

Here's today's public service announcement, which I made in an interview with some community TV show a while back, but which failed to make the cut.

Bike lanes don't make cycling safer. They do, however, provide the illusion of safety - a white line on the ground is no more than that. And, given that one of the barriers to cycling is the misconception that it is unsafe, an illusion of safety is perhaps enough to encourage more people to ride their bikes. More people on bikes makes cycling safer, through an increased awareness, shared responsibility, and sheer weight of numbers. So I guess bike lanes do make cycling safer.

Incidentally, the comment that did make the cut was, "People like riding fixies for the same reason they like skateboarding: because it's bad ass."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Without Love.

Sure, it's a TAC ad. But it's a freaking amazing cover, and definitely worthy of a mention.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Straight Out The Jungle.

Teachers inevitably get sick on the first day of the school holidays, and I'm no exception. When I finally start to relax after ten weeks of dealing with young delinquents, so does my immune system Stupid immune system! Now you have to work harder than ever!

It's not the first day of the school holidays, however - not for another week, in fact. But I'm still battling this cold. I think something similar occurred. My immune system, dealing all winter with severely reduced capacity due to the mystery sickness, finally got the boost it needed when I started finding my way out of it. For a couple of weeks there I was fucking invincible. But eventually that same boosted immune system decided it could relax and a cold snuck in. Now I'm ingesting weird and horrible herbal concoctions and mainlining Vitamin C, in the hope of convincing the stupid system to get back to work. I'll let you know how it goes.

As I stated earlier, when this cold first cropped up I figured I'd just train through it. This was, of course, a bad idea, and probably stretched out the cold's residency. But I kinda felt like I needed to - I'm starting this season so far behind the 8-ball, I was worried that another week off would ruin the entire summer for me. Worried? Scared, perhaps. Scared that this summer won't see the same improvements I've been able to make every year that I've been doing this. Scared that people who I'd previously been able to beat without breaking a sweat will make a mockery of me this time around. And scared that I won't be able to achieve the aims I've set out for myself.

Fear is a funny thing, though. For me, generally speaking, I'll be all worried about something, scared mostly about the uncertainty. But then something will click, and I'll figure out a way to deal with the issue, and then the fear will disappear. In this instance I figured out that the cold is the boss of me right now, and that I just have to listen to my body, regardless of what it is saying. At least for a little bit.

And as for the results? They'll come. I just gotta have a little more faith in myself. I know that I can work hard and get back to where I was last year - and perhaps even further. But it'll take time. I know it's hard, but I have to stop myself from rushing back into things. Again!

On The Cut.

Urban Riding Tips is my new favourite blog. Thanks to the good people at Treadlie for the link, and their ongoing radness.

Pictures Of You.

"You must always have a secret plan. Everything depends on this; it is the only question. So as not to be conquered by the conquered territory in which you lead your life, so as not to feel the horrible weight of inertia wrecking your will and bending you to the ground, so as not to spend a single night more wondering what there is to do or how to connect with your neighbors and countrymen, you must make secret plans without respite. Plan for adventure, plan for pleasure, plan for pandemonium, as you wish; but plan, lay plans constantly."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The things that used to fuel my old zine – coffee, late nights, travel, punk rock and romantic bungling – are things that, for the most part, I don’t do any more. When I see people from those days they inevitably ask me what I’ve been doing since the time I last appeared on their radar. “Not much,” I tend to shrug. And then, with a slight questioning tone, as if it’s totally no big deal, “Riding my bike?” You know, just like people say when they go and roll along the bike paths with their girlfriends, or pedal down to Williamstown for a picnic. That’s totally the image I’m trying to project, even if it isn’t true.

The truth, of course, is much more difficult to comprehend – that I’m spending twenty hours a week training to ride my bike, that I go to the gym and lift things heavier than me; that I wake up early to stink up the end room with my sweat and exertion; that I measure my heart rate every morning to monitor my recovery from the previous day’s training; that I have a coach, a gym trainer, a masseuse, a dietician; that I now know more about my body than I ever have before, and that this knowledge has enabled me to overcome the false separation of body and brain, and finally think about myself as one whole big truth. That’s kind of a big deal, and hard to tell someone who you haven’t seen for four or five years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Married! Buried!

Mere weeks after finally shaking this unusual, out-of-the-ordinary, undetectable illness and I end up with a usual, ordinary, obvious, garden-variety cold. I'm not heaps surprised - everyone else around me was dropping like flies two weeks ago, and I work with kids, who we all know are mobile germ factories. It's only a slight cold, so I'm currently training through it, but if it gets any worse I'm going to have to miss another couple of days, then spend a few more days easing back into it. For crying out loud! In the meantime, I'm full to the gills with garlic and vitamin C tablets, spending as much time in bed as possible, and only riding when the program tells me to do so. It's supposed to be warm on the weekend though. That'll help.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Progress Overdue.

The new program arrived in my inbox early last night. It's my first real program since being sick, and - while it's still not full tilt - it certainly has the appearance of a normal, healthy person program. A lot of road miles, two ergos a week and, most excitingly, a return to track racing. Man, I'm nervous about this. It's been a bloody long time since I've raced on the track - since last year's Austral, I think. I know I'm currently a long way from being in form, and know that this means I'll spend a lot of time suffering at the back of the bunch over the next few weeks. My ego will no doubt take a few hits, but I think it's gigantic enough to withstand it. After all, I'm not aiming to be fast in September. I'm aiming to be fast in March.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Wanna Know About You.

At some point I'm going to have to decide whether I want to run races or win them.

Like I've said below, my plan is to race my bike until I'm thirtyfive, at which point I'll give competitive cycling away and settle down. After that point I'd be happy to dedicate a heap of time and energy to putting on races for others. But, because I get big ideas and like to see them come to fruition, I've ended up at that point before the golden age. And therein lies the problem.

Like it says here, I'm trying to cut back on the number of things I do, in order to do one thing better. This year I spent a lot of time - and emotional energy - on this. It was rad, but it was a lot of fucking hard work. In a weird way I was lucky this year, because I was sick, which meant that I couldn't train and had a heap more free time than I would've otherwise. But now that the sickness has worked its way out of my system, all I want to do is train. Right now there's no way in hell I'd voluntarily go off the program for three Sundays a year, let alone spend all that extra time sending emails and going to meetings. Everything I do right now is geared towards getting me back on track - no pun intended.

Where that leaves the series I don't know. I probably don't have to think about it until next year. But I know that decision time is looming, and unmade decisions drive me nuts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Got An Amplifier.

Ok, seriously, for the past few weeks I've felt like my muscles are ready to burst out of my skin. I'm having the hardest freaking time restraining myself, trying to stick to the program - and my coach's steadfast belief that I should ease myself back into training. I feel like all the energy that I lost over the past few months has come back to me with interest. I was worried that that significant period off the bike would mean that I wouldn't be able to reach the same targets that I hit last year. But now, with whatever virus it was totally gone, I'm starting to think differently. I'm starting to think that I could be even better. The goals I was worried about losing altogether suddenly seem within reach.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reap This Righteous Riff.

I Had A Dream I Always Had Five Dollars In My Pocket.

When I was a runner it was safe to say I didn't take it all that seriously. Sure, I trained five days a week, and raced on the weekend, but I wasn't all that committed to it. One day in particular I remember calling up my coach and telling her it was raining.

"Uh, no it's not Brendan," she replied.
"Yeah, it's totally raining over here. And I'm way closer to the track than you are."

I should add that we lived in Stawell, and that Stawell's a pretty small town - if it was raining on one person's house, it was raining on everybody's. She must've figured I just wasn't up for it, however, and didn't push the issue. God knows what I was doing - probably talking on the phone to my girlfriend, or watching M*A*S*H with my little brother.

This attitude also spilled over into racing. I don't remember much about the state-level races I did at Olympic Park, but I certain remember the shenanigans. On one trip I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by two good friends, Richie and Nat. Somehow we'd managed, with one other kid, to qualify as a school team for the 4 x 100 relay. It was kind of a big deal, but we were fifteen year old kids with a burgeoning interest in girls and punk rock, so the chances of us treating the event with the respect it deserved were slim. After an hour or so warming up - by rolling down the hills of the Botanical Gardens - we were eventually allowed out on the track to figure out our strategy. I have no idea how we made it this far without figuring any of this out beforehand.

In a 4 x 100 relay you are allowed to put marks on the ground, so you know when to start running, in order to receive the baton without losing too much speed. Most teams use a particular colour chalk, but we only had white. Most teams wrote their school initials in neat letters next to a line on the ground, but we drew a gigantic pair of Nana Mouskouri glasses. Most teams had their runners say the name of the receiving runner as they drew near, but we all agreed to yell the lyrics of some Nirvana song or something.

We didn't win, of course. And no one really cared. But later in the evening I was also running in the 100m, and I won that.

I guess it was kind of a big deal, but no one - and I mean no one - treated it that way. I rocked up to school the next day and wagged Maths class. Richie and Nat didn't turn up at all. My parents were probably proud, but I certainly don't remember being showered with gifts or taken out for a special dinner. I'm pretty sure I wasn't singled out for attention in any way whatsoever.

While these two things may seem kind of unprofessional, and in a way kind of sad - you know, unfulfilled potential and all of that - I don't see it that way. I see it as tacit acknowledgement of two important things. The first is that competing is fun, and athletes who have fun competing will be more successful. But the second is perhaps more important. The lesson that I learned when I returned home triumphant and no one batted an eye is that winning is just something you do. It's not a big deal, not something fantastic, not anything out of the ordinary. It's expected. Not in a pressuring way - as the above conversation with my coach attests, I was never placed under any pressure whatsoever - but rather as a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders, as if to say, "Yeah, that's just what we do."

Yeah. We win. That's just what we do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reminded Him Of BeBop.

Surely, in the story of the prodigal son, the son in question felt some kind of pride on his return. Sure, he was penniless, and had some sincere sucking up to do, but I bet the dude felt just that little bit cooler than everyone else around for having taken that walk on the wild side. And his dad even put on a party for him, just so the kid could regale all comers with his new stories about gambling and prostitutes.

I don't have stories about gambling and prostitutes, but over the past few years I've developed some skills on the bike, and you know what? When I return home, I think about showing them off. Which is why this intrigues me:

Further information can be found here and on facebook here. Don't laugh at how quaint the website is, jerks. I'm seriously thinking about heading back home for this event, despite it taking place just as I'm supposed to be gearing up for track season. Despite my mum's best efforts, the folks around those parts who still remember me mostly do so due to the outlandish haircuts and/or fashion sense I rocked throughout my teenage years. That's not really who I am any more, and I'd like to distribute an update. Anyone keen for a road trip? I'd imagine the long road ride would take in some climbing, so it could be good prep for the Tour of Bright. Plus, there's a free barbecue!