Melbourne is at its best in the Autumn. In order to get the full Melbourne experience I’m taking the tram all weekend, and today the slow rollicking of the number 86 takes me past café after café, outdoor tables packed with hipsters soaking in the last few warm days of the year. Melbourne in a nutshell – where no one seems to work nine to five.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night, and the emotional pendulum is swinging hard. Right now it’s up the positive end; I’m listening to a new Latterman record, the tram is full of pretty girls in their 90s inspired summer dresses, and I’m heading into the city to pick up my media pass for the 2012 UCI Track World Championships.
Nice out, eh?
Three trams and two records later I make my way into Hisense Arena. The accreditation centre isn’t open for another ten minutes, so I wander around a bit. In that time four separate people ask me what I’m doing there. “Media,” I mumble. They take a barely-concealed, skeptical look at my tattoos and leave me alone.
Some toy that came in the press pack.
The Australian team seem to have just finished, and are leaving in dribs and drabs. I’m no fanboy, but as the pursuit team rolls by they catch me off-guard, and I don’t manage to say anything. A couple of them are wearing rainbow stripes. Rainbow stripes they’ve earned.
The bowels of Hisense Arena
I eventually sign in and make my way inside. There are folks from the army in full dress uniforms toting flagpoles, here to rehearse the medal presentations. Member of the workforce get to stand on the podium as the presentation horns blare and the announcers refer to them as Shane Perkins or Anna Meares.
I’m not allowed to take photos, but I have, of course, brought in my phone, which takes pictures in two different formats – blurry and out of focus. I try to take a few shots of bikes for Hurley, but I can’t get close enough without seeming conspicuous, so I give up and skulk back to the media area. On the track the Japanese pursuit team are training, but there are also a heap of other teams on the track. It’s a bit chaotic, but I’m never concerned that any of them are going to crash. The banks of the track seem a little shallower than DISC, and the track itself a little wider. The riders never seem pressed for space, even when another team practices their starts.
I wander around taking photos. Hurley sends orders over the phone. No one seems to care that I’m there with my camera – it’s the first day, and folks seem pretty relaxed. I even get my photo taken with some guy who was world sprint champ ten years in a row.
I now have a bunch of photos of tech, in particular of Geraint Thomas’ bike. Hurley wanted to know what crank length he was running, but Thomas himself showed up, and I got a little shy. The GB mechanic was already looking at me kinda weird. “Have you done anything different to the bikes?” I asked him. “They’re just track bikes, mate,” he answered. “There’s not much you can do to them.”
The Ukrainian Team showed up with this sweet Kalavinka. Totally my 2nd favourite bike down here. I wrote to Kalavinka a while back to see if they'd make one of these in a 57cm top tube for me. They said no, but complemented me on my impressive height.
Geraint Thomas' pursuit bike. Hurley wanted a lot of pics of this baby, much to the nonplussitude of the GB mechanic.
Thomas' cranks. Again, nothing special about these guys. In fact, I'm pretty sure he and I run the same chain.
The German bikes. Apparently the Australian team were heard admitting that these were the hottest looking bikes at the meet.
The Italians seemed to have the hottest selection of bikes though. Mixed up in there is a customized Cannondale Slice. Hot. But still not as hot as those Cipollinis.