Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let Youth Be Your Drug.

The day after the Track Worlds finished I drove the three hours up to my parent's house in the country. It wasn't a great drive. I was tired, the phone kept ringing, and it was alternately raining and windy or bright and glary. When I eventually arrived home I slept for the next 13 hours. And my folks were foolish enough to think I'd come to visit them.

With nothing else to do up here I've had the whole day to think about the Worlds, and am now perfectly posited to give out my awards. For your viewing pleasure, and because I'm a big Eastwood fan, I'll divide them into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good.

The Freeman award for proving Brendan wrong (see what I did there, friends?) goes to Anna Meares, who, after surprising herself with a new world record in the flying 200, lined up for the 500m time trial, an event she'd barely ridden over the past twelve months. The temperature was lower than it'd been all week, and I mentioned in passing that it was too cool for a world record. A little over half a minute later and I was proven incorrect. A close second goes to Cam Meyer, but I dunno, I don't feel as bad as that one. I'm pretty sure no one thought he could take a lap in the points race with only ten laps remaining.

The Sesame Snaps award for conversations about things other than cycling was a close fought affair. Germany's Kristina Vogel was always good for chats about music, dancing, the German countryside and the dubious sexual advances of Melbourne men ("They just kept trying to grab me, you know!"). But I'm going to give this one to Victoria Pendleton. I kicked off by asking her about her tattoo - an obvious opener, given my own permanent scarring, but the conversation quickly turned to the Sesame Snaps I was taking to Nath. "Oh, they look tasty!" She said, "And healthy, too!" I laughed and said she was being generous, but she went on, "It's dark chocolate, so there's antioxidants, and they're sesame seeds, and they're full of good stuff." I also caught her later on showing pictures of her dogs to Shuang Guo.

The Bull In A China Shop award goes to Chris Hoy for that ride in the Keirin. Later on Twitter he admitted to have never tried to go up the inside in a serious race before. In the days after he seemed to be buzzing. As were we!

The Red Pen award goes to Monique Hanley, for constantly correcting my 'facts'.

The Lucas From Neighbours award for most friendly mechanic award is also a close fought affair. Working for the Dutch was local boy Casey Munro, who was the only one to tell me what gears riders were generally racing on, and who also didn't hesitate to point out other interesting stuff he thought blog readers would be interested in. But I'm going to give this one to the mechanic from the USA who I think - or hope - was named Woody. He laughed when I said he looked like every other bike mechanic I've ever seen, he told me when he was going to get drunk, he answered my questions about Sarah 'MC' Hammer and - better than anything else - knew about my blog. Hot damn.

The Chumbawamba award for getting knocked down, then getting up again goes to Glenn O'Shea. Two years ago, after continual bouts of Glandular Fever, the guy was ready to give up cycling altogether. This week he won the Omnium. I'm sure some thanks for this should go to Tim Decker, who took O'Shea under his wing over in Adelaide, but the strength of mind that O'Shea must have makes me overlook his occasionally brisk answers to annoying questions.

The Jane's Addiction Were Wrong award for best expression goes to Anna Meares for her face when she broke the flying 200 record, because apparently there are some things that are still shocking. And surprising! Actually, I've gotta say, I was already a Meares fan before this weekend, but now I'm even a bigger fan. The way she races, the way she plays tough for hours before the race but wears her heart on her sleeve immediately afterwards, the way she said, when I asked for a photo, "Well, you're not supposed to, but nobody's looking."

And, finally, the Crabcore award for continually attacking (Attack! Attack!) goes to Canada's Zach Bell, who rides like he only knows how to go off the front. He's also quite easy on the eye. Monique mentioned, however, that he can be a little absent-minded - apparently he won silver in the omnium a while back, and was consequently given a medal. He put this medal in a bag he thought was his and flew home. When he arrived home he couldn't find the medal, he started ringing around. His bag apparently looked a lot like a bag belonging to the Cubans. Six months and a minor diplomatic incident later he finally had his medal. 

The Bad.

The Mulder and Scully award for paranoia goes to Team Australia, who were the only team who wouldn't let me take photos of their bikes. Or their riders. Or their food. While I know there are trade secrets and all that, but the other team mechanics are all here, and a short walk over to the Australian pit would reveal all. It was a little bit pointless.

The O Brother Where Art Thou award goes to the folks who worked out how much of the infield should be dedicated to the riders, who were constantly in a tight spot, and how much should be dedicated to the media. While I didn't mind that I was always guaranteed a seat, an entire table to myself and an ethernet cable, no matter what time of day I arrived, I felt a little guilty that the riders had to work under such cramped conditions. Hell, I even took some time to steal chairs from the media centre to give to the Canadian team. Apparently venue management were asked to move the barriers between the two back a little bit, but simply stated that this was impossible.

The Inflatable Student Who Took A Drawing Pin To The Inflatable School award goes to Twitter, who totally let me down when I hit their "too many Tweets per hour" limit. I did, however, resolve to mellow out a little on Twitter thereafter, despite it being my number one source of Madonna and MC Hammer references.

The Destination Anywhere award goes to Melbourne's public transport system. I quite like Myki, especially when it doesn't work, but waiting thirty minutes for a train at Jolimont, when I'm desperate to get to the Fyxo hub and watch the end of the Paris-Roubaix made me wish like hell that I was still able to ride my bike.

The Ugly.

The Nelly award goes to whoever was in charge of the thermostat over the weekend. Look, I know that a hot track equals hot times, but cranking up the heat meant that most of the folks inside were cranky, sweaty and dehydrated. It was simply too hot.

And, finally, because not much was ugly, really, is the McDonalds award for terrible, terrible food. Of course, the difference is that McDonalds is cheap. Five dollars for a tiny box of half-cooked chips? Sure. A vegeburger that contains both beef and bacon? Why not (if that had been presented to me I would've thrown it in their faces, but Monique apparently just gave it to her husband, who labelled it 'the best vegeburger I've ever eaten.').

And that's about it. Stay tuned for another edition of "Brendan and FJ talk pro-cycling" on Thursday. And thanks to everyone who replied to tweets or emails or messageboard questions, who offered support, encouragement and/or food, who read the blog, who got the jokes, who played along. You guys are the best. Thanks too to Chris Boardman, who, as I was leaving, asked if he'd see me at the Olympics. What a guy!


Kiwicyclist said...

Brenno, loved the coverage which kept me going over the Easter break across here in NZ. We only had tv coverage for a couple of hours and missed most of the night sessions. So my question is this. When will you be doing this full time? Even Graham Watson started out somewhere once. Stu

brendan said...

I'll do it full time when someone wants to pay me for it!

Thanks for the kind words though Stu.

Keir said...

Great coverage Brendan. With all the commentary on the telecast it was good to be able to hear all the good stuff on your tweets or here on the blog.

Added a different dimension to the World Champs!