Thursday, May 31, 2012

I've Kissed Mermaids, Rode The El Nino.

I was watching Rage a while back and they were playing some old live footage of Iggy and the Stooges. Iggy was at the front of the stage, contorting his body into all these weird positions. Then from somewhere he gets a hold of a jar of peanut butter (I guess stage props were pretty low-key in that era, but this seems a little ridiculous). Eventually Iggy succumbs to what must have been an obvious temptation and begins to smear the peanut butter all over himself, throwing copious amounts at the audience in the process. For this – and other similar performances – Iggy is universally known as ‘the Godfather of Punk’.

A while after that I was watching Top Gun. Eventually the scene where Goose (Anthony Greene, during his pre – ‘ER’ but post – ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ moment in the sun) is playing the piano to his wife (Meg Ryan, whose hair in this film should have won the best supporting actress Oscar) and his mate Maverick (pre-Scientology Tom Cruise) came on. The song he chooses to play is Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Great Balls of Fire’. It’s a pretty crap rendition, but I remember thinking to myself, ‘hey, there’s really something about this song. I bet that the guy that wrote this is actually pretty cool.’

Like most artists who are generally only known for one song – see James Brown and ‘I feel good’ for further reference – Jerry Lee Lewis is often overlooked as a novelty act, a slightly off-kilter piano player who wrote one good song, married his 15 year old cousin and did nothing else with his entire life. But like James Brown, writing off Jerry Lee like this is selling him seriously short.

Now, this isn’t going to be one of those articles that attempts to convince the reader that punk has been around since sometime in the Roman era. As far as I’m concerned, that’s crap. Although the starting point for punk is difficult to pinpoint, it’s safe to say that it first appeared sometime in the mid seventies, as a distorted, stripped back and sometimes out of tune form of early rock and roll. The link between early rock and punk is most clearly evidenced by the Clash, who always wore their rockabilly influences on their sleeve, and who even toured with Bo Diddley. Given that I’ve grown up on punk rock, I figured that maybe it was time to check out some of this rock and roll stuff.

So when I eventually made my way to the now defunct Hound Dog’s Bop Shop down in the West Melbourne end of Victoria Street, I made sure I found a Jerry Lee album. I’d read a review of ‘Live at the Star Club, Hamburg,’ and it sounded like the record I was looking for. The price tags in Hound Dog’s have recommendations written on them, generally ranging from ‘OK’ to ‘great’. This one had ‘great’ written on it. And when I took it up to the counter, the old guy serving me said, “Well, you can’t argue with that.” I sensed that maybe I was stumbling on to something important.

(As an aside, Hound Dog’s Bop Shop - despite their tough prices – was, at that point possibly my favourite record store, simply due to the near-complete lack of pretence in any of the people in there. They knew they weren’t cool. They were old blokes with beer guts and bad haircuts. They didn’t want to challenge you with the music they put on over the PA. They just wanted you to feel good.)

So I get home and put the record on. A couple of seconds later I hunt for the remote, turning up the volume. He’s pounding at the piano, slamming the keys, hollering out at the very edge of his voice, roaring through the hits. I can’t help but think of that moment, up late watching Rage, by myself in a world gone to sleep, watching Iggy Pop give way to total abandon with a jar of peanut butter. On ‘Live at the Star Club, Hamburg,’ Jerry Lee displays the same recklessness. He’s completely lost in the music, absolutely unaware of any kind of social constraints regarding legitimate behaviour. He doesn’t possess one iota of humility, of earnestness, of self-awareness. He just fucking rocks out. And that, more than the music, more than a DIY ethic, more than a Mohawk and a spiked wristband, makes him as punk as fuck, as far as I’m concerned.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Somethin Stickin In My Eye.

TDR's Duggan takes charge!

So, Brendan asked me to take the reigns on a Musique Mecredi. Shit idea. I'm not straight edge. I don't like to listen to Emperor and pretend I'm a wizard (much). I listen to all kinds of music. How can I fit this into six tracks? I need to focus. I did, however, turn thirty recently and reward my newfound maturity with the purchase of a BMX. This got me thinking that perhaps I'm still a 15 year old skateboarder in a young professional's body.

Fuck it. Here it is - the sounds of my skateboarding career.

I grew up living about 8 kilometers outside of Riddells Creek. It had about 1,200 residents when I was growing up, and exactly zero skateparks. Sometimes I used to skate the primary school stairs/ledges on the weekend. Of course Mum would have to drive me. One of my good Riddell mates who had older brothers got me into Primus. Les Claypool is an all time hero of mine.


Whilst skating by yourself and waxing the shit out of treated pine benches sounds like an awesome time, sometimes I liked to speak to other people. Gisborne was the place to do this. A virtual metropolis when compared to Riddells Creek, and brimming with skateboarders (about . No skatepark (although we did go to council meetings to have the current one built), but lots of places to skate, and more importantly, people to skate with. The number of times we were chased out of the carpark behind the Post Office is astronomical. NOFX was a local staple.


Geoff Rowley is pretty much my favourite skater of all time. Super smooth technically, but also went pretty big. He also got fucking angry and chucked his board lots, as I did, when shit wasn't going right. Flip later released the Sorry film and it had a great Graymatter track over Rowley's section. The section is still a fave of mine.


Before long, we were catching the V-line to the city to skate the, now-deceased, Sailyards. Right next to the library in the CBD. Huge area. Heaps of stuff to skate. Granny's Skate Shop to visit. Mutli-storey carparks to get high in. Older skaters ripping up the park with Dead Kennedys tattoos on their forearms to admire. Both the older skaters and the Kennedys made me want to charge.

As we got a bit older, parties and girls took preference. But there was a core group of us that still loved skating, and many a party was spent drinking around a barrel fire with trick competitions held on driveways and in carports. The Deftones, particularly White Pony, was a common album looking back.


By the time I was in my late teens, I'd owned a skateboard since I was about 4, and been skateboarding as a past-time for about 5 years. However I was still pretty rubbish technically, but I made up for by liking to try going big. Strapping Young Lad, and this track in particular, was a classic pre-session fire-up.


My street skating 'career' ended in 1999 when I fell off a set of stairs at the primary school in Gisborne and crashed down a flight of about 8. It was at that moment I realised I'd lost my ability to bounce. I'd broken my wrist for the last time (I thought I had anyway) and no amount of Sepultura could get me back on the deck to do anything of size after that.


I bought a longboard, went to Uni, and chilled the fuck out.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tell Me Baby, Where Did I Go Wrong?

I hadn't been into the Revolution for a while, so stopped by on the way home from a ride. Tony was surprised to see me on the bike. Last he'd heard I'd only been riding fifteen minutes at a time, and the store is probably a good twenty minutes from my house. He asked me about my exgirlfriend and I asked about his kids. The sun went down and I claimed some lights, in order to avoid being arrested on the way home. It was a pretty pleasant time.

A couple of days later I was off work, so stopped by the store with Teagan-Jane. Jimmy was at the desk, and while he had to do some running around, serving customers and helping with the orders, he was still up for a chat. He told me I was looking fat and Teagan complimented him on his ridiculous bright pink shoes. We talked about bikes a little, sure, but mostly just talked shit.

DC was floating in and out, looking like he had a million things to do. He's the guy in charge, who the buck stops with, but he still made time to say G'day and ask how I was doing. I ogled his new bike and he asked about my rehab.

About three years ago I was putting on an alleycat, and simply walked into the store and asked if they'd kick in some prizes. DC and I got to chatting, he kicked in a bunch of swag, and I walked out thinking that it was a pretty cool store. A year later I was some noob with a couple of results on the track, no significant results on the road and an obnoxiously wordy blog, but still DC decided that he'd make me one of their supported riders. I've scored some more results since then, worn the jersey in a bunch of important races, worn the hoodie when commentating, flown the flag whenever possible. I don't do it out of any sense of obligation. Like FJ said yesterday, there comes a moment when you realize that you're friends with folks, that you have some sense of your relationship being about more than just cycling. I support the Revolution not just because they support me, but because they're rad folks who I like. And I'm lucky that they seem to think the same way.

When A Man Lies, He Poisons Some Part Of The World.

Given the general melancholia surrounding this blog at the moment, I was going to use this Heavy Metal Monday as a tool to break into something a bit more trivial but, I'm afraid to say, you're fresh out of luck.

Being off the bike for one reason or another has made me think a lot about the aspects of riding bikes that aren't immediately within focus day to day.  When I became much more involved in cycling some years ago, a lot of things changed straight up.  My diet was different, my sleep was different, the bikes I rode were better, I got better and, most importantly, the people I hung out with the most changed.

We all have different friends from different walks of life, and I'm one of those people who tends to preface them with a more detailed description.  I have school friends, uni friends, music friends, and bike friends.  I have metal acquaintances because, you know, that's a scene I mainly frequent for the music, rather than the company.

Cycling is so often spoken about in terms of things gained, whether it be fitness, gear, race experience, scars, stories, but so rarely do we actually sit back and think about how many people we have met, purely though this two wheeled machine.  It's taken me time off the bike, to look around and realise that, in what has been a fairly unpleasant time for me personally, that these people are everywhere, and they mean a lot to me.

Cycling, as Brendan has written about in the past, places you into a community.  This might be a racing club, or group ride organised by a bunch of mates on a given morning.  Hell, it might even be a bunch of drinking buddies, the bike mattering only insofar as it gets you to the pub.  These groups spring up so naturally, and often so fast, that we can forget how quickly bonds are being forged.  And, true to form, I've only noticed the bonds once I've needed them.  

I'm thankful for cycling for a lot of things.  I have good legs, hilarious tan lines, and a few good stories.  But mainly I'm thankful for all my friends I've met through the machine, that have influenced and assisted me.  There are a lot of you, so I can't really make a list.  But, as the old adage goes, you know who you are.

Maybe we should think about this stuff more often.  We spend so much time fussing over the more obvious facets of cycling, we can lose sight of the larger, arguably more important picture.  Maybe we should place less emphasis on watts per kilo, kilometres weekly, strava segments, or even Saturday's race.  I'm not saying these are bad things (except for maybe strava) but it sure as hell isn't as good as hanging out on a bike with a bunch of mates.

The really precious moment is the realisation that the bikes are totally superfluous.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Listen For The Victories.

Hello there. It's once again time for another Friday Roundup. Again, I actually have some real-life events to write about this week, so check it out.

The first is that the Metro Champs are on this weekend. Want to see who the fastest guy on a bike in the whole city is? Go check it out. I remember the year Cuz Bro won it. He was last seen attempting to ride away from the cops after a heavy session at Revolver, possibly still pinging after his victory.

The day after that - on the Sunday - there's the Northern Combine Teams Race at Calder Park. This is one of the best Combine races of the year, and to further increase the radness, I'll be doing the commentary for the main race AND the E Grade / Noobs race immediately afterwards. The only hitch here is that if it rains, Calder is unsuitable for racing, so check Twitter and/or Facebook before you jump in your car, because it may be cancelled. Although I guess you could head out there and look for Axl Rose's sanity, rumoured to have been lost there when Gunners toured in 1993.

This is the final time I'm going to plug this, but Wednesday night is the Emerging Writer's Festival Nerd Night. I met some of the other Nerds on Friday night and let me tell you this: I am punching way out of my weight division here. These Nerds are bonafide, whereas I'm kind of a Jock who happens to love a Nerdy sport. In my talk I plan to make fun of them all. Should be rad.

When I've spoken about death lately it's largely as a metaphor, in the 'death of an era' kind of way, or at the least is in the not too recent past tense. FJ, on the other hand, is dealing with a more literal, immediate kind, and is writing really well about it. The best thing about writing about death is the hope that shines through, the emphasis on the end never mattering, and FJ has nailed that. Check it out on his personal blog here.

And, while we're on the topic of things coming to an end, here's a link to the info for True Radical Miracle's last show. I'm going to be fucking bummed that it's finally over, if for no other reason than I think those folks in the band are all most excellent individuals. You should come. I'll be there. Oh, and just quietly, that lineup is fucking incredible. On form, Flesh Vs Venom were one of the best bands I've ever seen, Useless Children blow me away every time, and Straightjacket Nation are an institution for a reason. Will. Be. Rad.

That's it for today! Have a good weekend!

Wearing The Cross Of My Calling.

"Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one:
Inconstancy unnaturally hath begot
A constant habit; that when I would not
I change in vows, and in devotion.
As humorous is my contrition
As my profane love, and as soon forgot:
As riddlingly distempered, cold and hot,
As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
I durst not view heaven yesterday; and today
In prayers and flattering speeches I court God:
Tomorrow I quake with true fear of his rod.
So my devout fits come and go away
Like a fantastic ague; save that here
Those are my best days, when I shake with fear."
- John Donne
I don't believe in a god. I really don't. Except, of course, when I lose my wallet. Or when I come close to dying, like that time I ran the car off the road and ended up driving along in a ditch at a hundred ks an hour. Or when I know I'm going to get in a lot of trouble, when the drama is going to come crashing down all over me. Or that time at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. At those times I turn full Catholic. Thirteen or fourteen years of indoctrination is hard to shake, and sometimes I even find myself praying. The Hail Mary is a hell of a prayer - it has that "Pray for us sinners / Now, and at the hour of our death" bit at the end, which really resonates when you're about to do something incredibly stupid. I sometimes add in a "But especially now" at the end, which doesn't have papal approval, but which adds nicely to the urgency. 
I don't believe in god, but in a way I think this makes me a sellout, that when it gets difficult to believe that there's nothing else there, there's no one looking out for you, who stopped you from dying, who can save you from the mess you're in, who knows where your wallet is, I retreat back into the cosy arms of a monotheistic, all-knowing, interventionist almighty being. If I depend on these stories - and lets face it, any religion is just a set of stories, answers invented in order to facilitate the human impulse to explain - when I'm in a bad way, surely I should also own it when the sun is shining.

I don't believe in a god. But I've been brought up with the imagery, the iconography, the stories and the rituals, and they all still have meaning to me beyond a deity. I have a dictionary of the saints - those guys who allegedly performed miracles, not the band - and though I don't believe in miracles, I like reading about them, about how devout they were, about what they did to prove their faith. I used to have a St Anthony's medallion on my keyring, and even though he's no longer responsible for Lost Things, I never lost my keys. Plus, that was the name I took for my confirmation. I'm pretty sure I just thought it was a cool name at the time, but over the years it has taken on further meaning.

I don't believe in a god. But I do believe in faith. In believing in things that can't be proven or explained. In fact, some times I believe that explanations aren't necessary, that it's in our best interests to accept things as they are without trying to figure them out. That's not easy, though, and that's why I sometimes try to fill the great gaping chasms of uncertainty with those easy answers that I grew up with. In fact, this is probably the worst thing that religion does - provides us with answers when there shouldn't be any. Lulling us into a false sense of security, telling us that there will always be an answer, a beginning, middle and ending. 

I don't believe in a god. But I also believe in redemption. That there are ways to make things right, that sometimes you have to work really hard for it, but that bad situations can be fixed. Redemption and faith are intertwined, however. In the midst of working hard for something you have to believe that what you're doing is right. No matter what.

I don't believe in a god, but I do believe in community. After a year of failing, I'm lacking faith at the moment. Whenever I go out on the bike I'm nervous. No, calling it nervous is minimizing it, being dishonest. I'm fucking scared. It's always ok at the time, but a couple of hours afterwards, if I'm even the littlest bit tired, I freak out. I'm working hard for redemption, to get back to where I was, but I'm not sure that I'm on the right path. It's at this time that I depend on people to remind me that I'm ok, that it's normal, that I should just eat a sandwich and I'll be fine. Hearing someone say, "Brendan, I know you'll be fine," is pretty much the best thing for me at the moment. Even if I'm not sure if it's true. Their faith in me is enough.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When I Got The Music, I Got A Place To Go.

After a two day lay-off thanks to the good people at iiNet, FJ and I have decided to continue our vacation for one more day. But we didn't think we could leave you guys without anything to read. So, in the recent tradition of Music Wednesdays, we asked someone else to do it. KO seemed like an obvious choice - sure, she seems quiet and reserved, but on the topic of music her opinions are passionate and steadfast. Actually, both of those adjectives apply to the person too.

"I’m in the process of making a mixtape for a friend. Its about six months overdue, and whilst he probably won’t believe me, I haven’t actually forgotten about it. I add to it all the time, rearrange the order, take songs off etc. It is fast becoming the definitive list of my favourite twenty or so tracks, which makes it all the more important to get right.

But true to form, I suspect I am over-thinking it.

So perhaps it’s simpler than all that and it just boils down to these three tracks.

When I’m happy I listen to this:

When I’m sad I listen to this:

And when it’s Friday night, I listen the fuck outa this:"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anxiety And Fear.

That's right, it's time for the Friday Roundup!

Man, it's like someone heard me complaining that there wasn't much going on, and decided to up the ante. Check all of this out!

Firstly, Sunday is the first ever Dirty Grand Fondo. I don't know what those words mean when they're all put together like that, but word on the street has it that some pretty serious racer types are heading out to the middle of nowhere in order to ride about 100kms of dirt roads. That sounds like fun. I'm pretty sure that you should've entered ages ago, but given that FJ just pulled out, they should have an extra spot for you. Check it out here.

And while we're on the topic of huge bunch rides that actually sound like a lot of fun - you know, as opposed to the North Road Ride - folks should definitely check out the Dirty Dozen ride being organized by The Climbing Cyclist. 12 nasty hills in one day? That's something I can get behind.

Two quick things about my favourite topic now. The good people at Neverstop Pedalling have been giving me t-shirts for a while now (in exchange for lolz, mostly), and I took my bike over there a while back so Rolly could take some photos of it. You can check out the photos here, then click on some of those links in order to arrive back at this blog. Circle Jerk!

The Revenge of the Nerds slide night is also fast approaching. I'll be there speaking about bike nerds and my journey to become one. It's been a hard road, full of shaving cuts and nutritional deficiencies, and I guarantee that the story will be equally as bloody and hilarious. I'm also doing some photo shoot to promote it with the Herald-Sun*. That's two Murdoch papers in two weeks. I bet by now my phone has been tapped. They asked me if I could wear all my lycra. I was astounded. "It's a bike photo shoot," I said, "What else would I wear?"

And, finally, Tara Jayne will be back in town for one night only, so her band Shit Weather can play a show at the Gaso. You should come. Check out the details here.

That's it for this week! See you out there!

*I've learnt the hard way not to tell anyone you're going to be in the media until it actually appears (my poor ma stayed up well past her bedtime the other night to watch Lateline, only to find I'd been bumped... thanks, Hamish!), so there's a possibility nothing will come of this. Perhaps check it out in a cafe before purchasing a copy. It's alright, no one else will be reading the Herald-Sun at the cafes you frequent anyways.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Brick Today.

I woke up one morning in 1994 and felt like it was going to be a pretty bad day. Moping along the corridor to the bathroom, I stumbled into the shower and blasted the hot water. Standing under the spray, the steam seemed to clear my head a little. "Hang on a minute," I thought to myself, "If I go into this day thinking that it's going to suck, then there's a fair chance it will suck. I gotta stop thinking like that. This day is going to rule!"

Rarely has a change of heart been so prescient. The day was beginning to warm up. I arrived at school midway through second period, just enough time to catch up with my friends before recess. For some reason James 'Gibbo' Gibson, who was supposed to be at the senior campus, was wandering around, and he suggested that Nat Graf, Dom Horvat and I would have a better time back at my house, rather than in double Maths. It never took too much convincing for me to skip Maths class.

Back at my house the sun was shining. I don't remember much of what we did for that hour or two, other than making some shorts for Gibbo by cutting the legs off his schoolpants. We must've done was teenage boys usually do - talk about girls - but that doesn't seem right. Eventually we decided to head up to the main street of Stawell, which was, at that point, still a pedestrian mall.

In the photo above you can see two of the three great things that happened that day. I found that shirt in the St Vincent De Paul Op Shop, and purchased it for the princely sum of fifty cents. It had a green apple on the front pocket and a bigger picture of the same apple on the back. The day was thereafter known as the Apple Shirt day. I think I eventually gave the shirt to some girl, but by the time I did it was almost threadbare, I'd worn it that much.

Before long we realized there was something going on in the mall. The St George Bank people were setting up some kind of display. There was food. There were games. There was free stuff. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have run up to the dragon, put him in a headlock and given him a noogie, but he seemed to take it in the right spirit. We ate, we claimed, we pushed our luck. That's what teenage boys do.

As we lined up for the photo Dom and I were a little nervous. We were certain that they wouldn't let us go through with it, but the photographer was either bored or appreciated our youthful hijinks. As he worked us into position the dragon started to speak to us. Dom and I both craned our necks in to hear him better, which is why we look like we're about to kiss in that photo. "Not so funny now, is it boys? Maybe you should know better than to wrestle with dragons."

He didn't throw us off, or hit us, or breath fire at us, or anything, but the threat was enough. We got the hell out of there.

They still let us have the photo though.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Damo the computer guy at work has added me to the list of teachers who have access to YouTube at school, so I probably could've done version of La Musique Mercredi (which I just refer to as "Music Wednesdays" in public) one myself. But I'd already lined up Teagan-Jane, and hell, both her rants and her music selections are so rad that I had to use them regardless. So here they are.

I doubt I could even count the number of perfectly composed, slender secretaries who’ve looked past my outrageously dishevelled, sweaty, actually filthy-from-riding-the-road-all-day Self while I’m working to say kinda wistfully, not even pretending to look at the delivery they’re signing for, something like ‘I bet you get to eat whatever you want hey..’ and I’m like errrr yeah I guess I mean I had ice-cream for dinner and doughnuts for breakfast but have you seen my hair it actually looks like I found a piece of 7 week old road kill and decided to rock it as a hat. 

Point being, athleticism is perceived as so important and beneficial for us on both an individual/health level and collectively as a social medium towards xyz.  Healthy body healthy brain/soul, I get all that and honestly couldn’t agree more. And hey you get to eat like a human and still feel/look like a ninja which (can't speak for a male perspective) for women is a pretty big plus, considering the perpetual and inescapable bombardment you cop from media and society in general informing you of how utterly paramount your physical image is to your intrinsic worth as a human being. So now you’ve got this bike between your legs and it’s not only ridiculously fun to ride and race and the endorphins are throwing a party across your cranium but more than that, suddenly you’re allowed to be strong and fit and fast and it’s deemed sexy as hell apparently so you’re insulated from the societal onslaught of incessant ‘inadequacy.’  Problem is if the bike becomes a mere tool to maintain this strength, this physique, this alternate aesthetic reality, you might be safe from the afore-mentioned bombardment but does your body not become some kind of machine requiring constant improvement, supplementation, augmentation, progress?  In perceiving our bodies first and foremost as machines we need to ‘work on’, don’t we become so sadly estranged from them, like athletic absent centres dissociated from our own skin?

So I’ve recently ventured out into the raucous tumult of competitive cycling. I’ve fallen head over heels for track and I’ve got some pretty big dreams and only half my twenties left to pursue them.  I’m looking in the mirror and I’m seeing a machine that I could ‘work on’ to get where I want to go, and that’s fine, but that’s not where I came from and I figure if you forget where something started then you’re like a kite with no string and you’re going to crash into shit whether you want to admit it or not.  So I was thinking about what cycling really is to me, underneath all that sensible (that doesn’t mean unimportant or un-real) talk, which quite possibly sounds like an utterly inane question to ask but it’s a good reason to not work on my thesis for five minutes and let’s face it right now I’ll take any excuse I can get.

So you know that feeling when you’re crying a raging river I mean you’re blubbering like such a fucking fool it doesn’t even cross your mind to attempt to maintain a semblance, even a shred, of composure or dignity because in that moment those words don’t mean shit and those ideas have entirely ceased to exist? Well that moment, that intensity, that almost excruciating drowning in pure sensory awareness, now subtract the sadness of this picture and THAT, that drowning in just feeling alive, man, that is what cycling is about. 

It’s about piss-bolting home or between parties at 4am jumping gutters blasting jawbreaker screaming your lifelust like your legs are screaming go while the wind whips your hair up your nose and stings your eyeballs and right then you’re flying right the world might be full of friction, contradiction and rules but you’re a lupine-engine in the shape of a Trojan battle-sword bathed in dragon tears and everything’s yours, nothing can stop you and no one can touch you or hurt you or hell even SEE you and while all your earthly woes dissipate in the insane simplicity of flight everything’s somehow more real and red and raw than you could ever wrap a pen around because you’re moving faster than your own heart and lighter than anyone else’s man you’re howling at the asphalt under a Fat Black Moon and all that you understand is the air you’re breaking with your face as you vaguely try to remember to maybe pay the slightest attention to avoiding decking yourself on tram tracks or cutting the next corner too close to that gnarly looking bouncer at the pub down your street who glares at you every time like he’s pissed at the idea a single human could possibly be having THAT much fun on something as simple as a two-wheeled hunk of junk.

Mate... this is escape. Escape from the mundane horror of the Everyday.  

This is tying the race-face back to the thought where it all started, not fitness not image not health not progress or how pro your socks look.. not even competition-dreams: Just ‘riding bikes makes me inexplicably happy and thank fuck at least one thing on this planet is that. deliciously. simple.’ 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Anyone Before. Or Anyone To Come.

FJ steals a telly.

There's no internet at New Timer House at the moment, which means that I'm writing this at school. If the flow seems interrupted, it's because I've had to stand up and encourage a student not to stab someone. Both the student and I apologise in advance.

This lack of internet is the latest of crushing blows to the house. It's been a tough week. Actually, it's been a tough month. No internet may seem like a pretty minor thing, a first world problem, but taking a channel of communication away from dudes who are leaning on their communities more than ever, who are using those emails and facebook messages and texts and comments as the straw we clutch for? Well, that could be the breaking point.

As well as the death that seems to be following us both around at the moment, attached but not touching, hovering always a metre above and behind like a daemon, there are a thousand other little cuts, non-fatal wounds that would, on other days, go unnoticed. Tara Jayne leaves town. The weather turns bad. Sleep is hard to come by. Money is tight and the bills are due. Neither of us can ride our bikes. There's a weight to our day to day interactions that seems to multiply everything, until even the slightest thing can bring us to our knees.

The emotional pendulum swings both ways, however. For every cut there's a suture, and the stitches used spell out the names of your friends. Seeing Tara Jayne off, nearly crying in public, seeing her that one last time before she left, letting her know that I will miss the hell out of her, but am so excited for her. Knowing that someone was there to talk to James the other night, and that they were probably the only person in the entire world he could've handled being around in that moment. Someone giving you a poem they said they'd copied out, then you loving the shit out of that poem, then them telling you they'd written it themselves. Jawbreaker. An ex-girlfriend messaging you football results when the game is only being screened on Fox Footy. Jen Whalen messaging to say that she "Just woke up. And it's Monday. Laying in bed with the dog." Someone reading all this blogborne melancholia on the internet and emailing a bunch of songs that got them through when things were tough for them. Being in the paper. People trusting you again. James getting stuck in the car because Teagan broke the door handle. Being able to knock one someone's window late at night. Riding your friends' bikes that don't fit you. Zoe emailing to call me out on that time that I was a jerk, but doing it in such a positive way that I almost wanted to invite her over to discuss in greater depth me being a jerk, which is not usually one of my favourite topics. Waking up and finding three text messages that say, "I can't sleep. Are you up?", all sent at 3am. Friends from highschool who remember you when you had multicoloured dreadlocks and wore disintegrating overalls with hibiscus stars sewn on them, but don't hold it against you. The daily pictures I get of KO wearing a Bombers scarf after she lost our bet on the weekend. Sending a text out that says, "Sometimes things these days feel a little loose, without a structure or skeleton, and I can't help but wonder what will hold us up when things get too heavy," and receiving one back that says, "Remember you can be broken, but not by this." Phone calls from far away. With a "Hi, how are you today." And a sign recovery comes. To the broken ones.*

I know that folks are mostly here for the bike talk, and trust me, at some point I'll go out to some races again and write them up. But right now I can't think about bike racing. All I can think about is trying to find a way to make it through. If you've got anything you want to add to that list, well, I can't think of a better use of the comments section.

*Ok, everything after "...but not by this" is from The Weakerthans.

We Can't See.

Things are pretty grim here at Heavy Metal Mondays.

People dying always sucks.  It sucks even more when I can't ride my bike to gain what people like to call 'perspective'.

People who exercise every day often forget to what degree they come to rely on that physical facet of their life to level out and shape their mood, and even outlook on life.  When not exercising is coupled with a moment in time that is horrible, the effect is almost crippling.

There's nothing wrong with being sad.  It's important.  But, when you don't have five hour bike rides to numb you, you need music to do the same job.

Some people, when they're sad, are ok listening to melancholy music.  Some people really dig the Smiths.  Those people are crazy.  Bands like Jawbreaker have been popular around these parts lately.  That's ok.  But it doesn't cut it for me.

When I'm sad, I need sonic landscapes that are as bleak as they get.  Music that is so mind numbingly depressing that it make your world change colour.

By facing up to it, you eventually come good and, before you know, you're listening to Iron Maiden again.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Ok, so it's Friday Round-up time, but I'm going to re-label this one the Friday Rant-up, because I've only really got one event to write about, but I've got a whole lot more things to rant about. And it's my blog, so it's my prerogative.

Firstly, the event is the Women's Madison Session to be held at the Harrison St Velodrome in the People's Republic of Brunswick on Sunday at 9am, weather permitting. Should go until about 11, which means that you'll still have time to go out to lunch with your mum for mother's day. Monique Hanley, who I've mentioned about a million times on this blog, is pulling it together, and I believe her husband Ewin Williams is running the session. This is a very good thing - Ewin was the one who taught me to ride the Madison way back when, and I've never been slung harder. Apart from that time that Benny Ladner slung me into the race and told me, "It's the last lap of your life!" We still didn't win.

All are welcome at this session - Monique explicitly stated that no one wanting to try track would be turned away, because she's rad as all get out and inclusive by nature, but in my invitations I've had to add in a couple of prerequisites. The first is that you'll need your own track bikes, with drops, no brakes, and somewhere between 80 and 90 gear inches. Your fixie will do just fine with those slight changes. But you will also need some experience on the track. A Madison Sling isn't a tricky thing to learn, but it means being comfortable in traffic on the track, and some skills handling your bike.

However, if you've been on the track a few times, know how to hold your line, and have a bike that fits the above description, you should come down anyways. If you're not ready to hold hands and throw people around I'll take you around and show you the ropes. Including the secret smooth line coming out of turn two.

It's funny, though, when men talk about women's cycling. And I'm not even talking about those guys who think it's somehow less than men's cycling - those guys don't even count here. I'm talking about dudes who have reached the basic assumption that women's cycling is rad and that women can be excellent cyclists. I know that seems a little entry-level, but it's a level a lot of dudes haven't entered yet. I'm going to assume those dudes don't read this blog though, because, well, I just assume those dudes can't read.

Even dudes who have reached those assumptions still get it wrong occasionally. I'm no exception to this rule - hell, I'm part of a world that tells me that my opinions and values are at the centre, and that all others are capital-O Other somehow, and as hard as I work to avoid those ways of thinking, I fuck up too. One way in particular I fuck up is by occasionally treating women cyclists as an amorphous mass, lumping them all together, regardless of interests or skill level or experience. If there's a women's cycling event I'll invite every woman cyclist I know, in a way that I don't always do with dudes. With dudes I'll be like "Nah, that guy only rides CX, that guy only rides a fixie, they don't wanna come to the track." But with women I'm like, "Hey, they're a girl, and they ride a bike!" I dunno, perhaps this is due to some misguided notion that women want to support women's events, but even that is problematic. Why the hell should women want to support an event based on a political standpoint? Why shouldn't they just support events because those events are rad, that they pertain to their interests, that the events are something they want to do? 

Perhaps I'm overthinking it. It wouldn't be the first time, and probably won't be the last. But perhaps I'm not. Perhaps I'm not thinking about it enough.

Here's my final Roundup thought for the week. I talk to kids a lot about the way they treat people. In health class, I sometimes have to do sex ed. In most schools sex ed consists of three topics: how babies are made; how not to make babies; and how not to get a red lump that is not a baby. In our sex ed classes we do go over those three topics, but only briefly - generally they've been done to death before the kids come to us. Those three topics are the first three lessons. The next ten lessons are on consent. They're on power. They're on values, on ethics and morality, on how to make sure you're not trampling all over the person you want to be with. The number one thing I want these kids to take away from these lessons is that they have to be certain. Certain that they are doing something they want to do, and certain that the other person is also doing something they want to do. "If you're not certain," I tell them, "Don't do it." (We also, with more mature classes, sometimes brainstorm ways of asking for consent without breaking the mood, but that usually gets awkward pretty quickly). I'm not sure if any of them listen, if those words affect their decisions when they're in the heat of the moment, but if one of them remembers any of them I've won a small battle.

I kinda feel like it's the same with all of our interactions. That we need to be certain. I'm as guilty as anyone of blundering into situations and being a total jerk - even a sexist jerk. But I feel like if we listen to individuals, and are certain that they're certain, the chances of being sexist jerks - or hell, any kind of jerk - is lessened considerably.

Well, at least, I hope so.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

He Promised Her Everything. But Never Had To Deliver.

Man, I was so tired today. Not overtraining tired again - don't worry about that. Just lack of sleep tired. And with the tired comes the grumpy. Oh man, I was so grumpy earlier. I lay on the couch at work - where generations of 14 year old boys have farted silently - and just moped about the totally depressing blog post I was going to write. You may note that I stuck with the title, but that's possibly because as well as being a massive bummer, it's from one of the best songs ever written, Billiard Player Song.

So, things were bad. My boss has been absent from work a little bit lately, which means that I'm pretty much in charge, and the buck stopping with me wasn't ever one of my career objectives. It's hard work. And then I was supposed to go out riding with Teagan, but she's in the midst of thesis hell at the moment, so she cancelled on me. I had an hour and a half to do - the longest ride I've done since January - and was a bit worried about how I'd handle it.

So I was totally sulky and listening to Shellac and just getting in a worse and worse mood. Like Gerro says, however, when you're not feeling motivated to train, all you need to do is put on your shoes. Once they're on, everything else follows.

I didn't stop at my shoes, of course. I kitted up. Again, for the first time since January. I filled my pockets with pump and food and phone and wallet and keys, applied chamois creme, strapped on the heart rate monitor. By the time I clipped in things were looking up.

I rolled up High St and on to Cheddar Road. I'd been worried about my cadence dropping, but found myself spinning at 100rpm without too much trouble. The sun was out and the traffic was benign. I turned off into the Western Ring Road bike path and took a photo. Things were pretty good.

Eventually I headed back into town along Sydney road. Traffic there wasn't great, and to avoid being harassed for going too slowly I dropped the hammer a little. It felt pretty damn good. A light in front of me turned orange and I sprinted for it. That felt pretty damn good too.

So by the time I got home, my bad mood was gone.

That's right.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dead By Dawn.

This Musique Mercredi is being brought to you by Heavy Metal Monday's FJ.  Let's get amongst it.

My first taste of metal was thrash.  That's pretty much all I listened to for a good two years.  Eventually, though, my tastes wanted something more extreme.  Louder, faster, filthier.  Death metal was the natural choice.

One thing that has always puzzled me about U.S. death metal (for the sake of simplicity, we're going to only discuss American death metal...anything more will get too confusing) is the fact that it almost exclusively came to prominence in sunny Florida, in the mid to late eighties.

Some will argue that Possessed, hailing from California, were the first death metal band, having released the totally rad Seven Churches, containing the song Death Metal, in 1985.  These people are insane.  Everyone with a clue know's it's thrash metal with a proto-death sound or, if you will, thrashened death.  Here are Possessed:

Great band, to be sure, but not death metal.

So which were the the very first real death metal bands?  Well, we had Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse (but they suck, so don't worry about them.), Massacre, name but a few.

Not only did all these bands come out of Florida, they came out of the town Tampa, Florida.  In a nutshell, a bunch of dudes really dug Slayer, and decided to one up them.  I guess they were just a bunch of really dedicated, inspired people.  That or they were really bored and listened to Reign in Blood too much.

As far as I can tell, no one really knows why all this ground breaking music came out of a state which is more famous for beaches and babes.  Glen Benton, the front man for the more satanic band of the bunch, Deicide, ruminated that it was perhaps because "it was so damn hot all the time.  Like hell".

Glen Benton was also famous for branding an inverted cross into his forehead, and telling everyone he was going to kill himself at thirty-four, to mimic the death of Jesus Christ.  Well, Glen is still alive, pushing forty five, and still has an inverted cross on his forehead.  And his band now sucks.

Anyway, here are some sweet clips from some rad bands, during a rad time in metal history.

First up, Death.  The band that arguably started it all, have probably left the biggest legacy.  Definitely a 'thinking man's metal', which simply means they didn't write about hell much, and more about madness, suicide, totalitarian states, infinite time and other pseudo intellectual things.  Probably one of my personal favorite bands of all time.  This band's legacy was cut short when frontman Chuck Schuldiner died of a brain tumor in 2001.

Note that Chuck is wearing bell bottoms.  It is 1998.  What a ruler.

Which takes us to Morbid Angel.  Arguably my favourite band of all time, Morbid Angel's first four records are what I would consider flawless.  So enamored were they of themselves, they often made no coherent sense in interviews, so entwined were they in their death-mystic world view, they claimed their guitar tones took you to other worlds.  They recently released an album which has been so universally panned, it's being called the 'New St. Anger'.  High praise indeed.  Here they are in all their glory.  Ladies and gentleman, this is death metal:

Holy god, when I saw them live in 2009, I had a chuck of my hair ripped out in the pit, and I didn't even care.

We've discussed Deicide's Satanic ways, so I'll just leave you with the clip.  They were dumb, but pretty awesome.

Obituary rejected the fast tempos of their contemporaries, and instead went for this 'dragged through the mud' sludginess that just pummeled your head.  More political, there was none of the other worldly pretension that so characterized Morbid Angel.  They were pissed.

That's right.  Obituary were into saving the planet way before it was cool.

As was the case with a lot of small but influential  music scenes, there were a lot of bands that never quite got the hype they deserved.  Enter Massacre.

What a bunch of kings.

These kids from Florida tried to change the world.  They succeeded insofar as they made some pretty awesome music.  I would go so far as to call it high are, but I happily admit I'm a little biased.  They failed insofar as almost all the bands that were inspired by them totally sucked, making the metal scene in the 90's a barren wasteland, where the only famous band was Pantera, and everyone kept whining about Kurt Cobain.  What was it about Tampa, Florida that was so conducive to the creation of perhaps some of the best metal ever written?  Was it a reaction to the plastic culture, the babes and beaches?  Was it simply a matter of the right time and place, like Washington D.C. in the early eighties, that brought bands like Minor Threat to the kids?

I, for one, have no idea.  Maybe Glen from Deicide was right, maybe it was just too god damn hot down there.

Doesn't explain the amount of cowboy boots and leather jackets though does it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Art Of Almost.

A guest post from Dingus Dave, whose nickname I don't understand, because he's a rad dude who has totally forgiven me for being such a dick in highschool.

About ten years back I was in a TAB on Lygon St on the morning of the Melbourne Cup. I was going through the form guide, pretending to know what the hell I was looking at, when legendary Essendon footy coach Kevin Sheedy came in.

“Hey Sheeds, got a tip for me?”

“Sure do young fella; don’t bet.”

He’s a wise man that Sheeds.

I was watching Milan San Remo a while back with Brendan and a few other New Timer friends, when I mentioned I’d backed Cavendish for the win. And also put some money on Sagan. And a few dollars on Cancellara just to cover the other two bets. Oh, and a couple of dollars on Haussler as an outsider. The boys were a little taken aback. I don’t think betting on cycling had really occurred to them as something you could do. But in the last few years sports betting has gone a little crazy, and although cycling is a long way behind the football codes (which is probably a good thing), there’s still the opportunity to pick up a few sneaky dollars watching what can at times be, let’s be honest, pretty boring.

But let me just say, I’m bad at gambling. I have an online account with one of the betting agencies sure, but it’s in my wife’s name. When we each started an account on Melbourne Cup day a few years back with $50, in order to get a free $100 bet that was on offer, I quickly chewed through the cash in my account and she was nice enough to let me take over hers.

There’s one thing you shouldn’t do when you bet, and that’s bet with your heart, yet I continue to back the Tigers in loss after loss, year after year. The account was down to its last $10 early last year, so I placed one last bet, telling myself if it didn’t pay out then that’d be it, no more gambling. Once again I ignored all logic and this time backed Cadel to win Le Tour. I talked myself into it by thinking Contador would be shagged after the Giro and that Schlek can’t timetrial, probably because his brother’s not there next to him. Cadel gets the win, I pick up $190 and fool myself into thinking I’m pretty awesome at this gambling thing.

But gambling on cycling is crazy. If you’re pretty sure someone is going to win, then their odds are likely to be pretty short. For example, Cavendish was paying around $1.60 to win the first stage of the Giro. Me, I put a sneaky dollar on Goss (they’re always sneaky), because, well, he’s an Aussie and I’d rather cheer for him than Cav (don’t tell Brendan I’m patriotically cheering for GreenEdge or I won’t be invited back to the New Timer). Also, he was paying $15, which I thought was way above the odds for someone who was coming into good form (see Tour of Turkey results) and has shown he can be just as fast as Cavendish (see last year’s World Champs). Of course, I lost my dollar.

And, if you wanna throw your money away in a more ludicrous manner, then multibets are for you my friends. This week, I combined my ridiculous love of backing the Tigers with a cycling punt, and put $5 on the Tiges to beat Port Adelaide (score!), into Ivan Basso to win the Giro. Richmond were paying $1.80, Basso $4.50, giving a payout of around $40 on my $5 layout. The burritos will be on me James!

But what I’m getting interested in now is having a punt on amateur cycling. There was a bookie at the Austral the other month, and there was something oddly satisfying about putting $2 on Duggan to win knowing full well there was pretty much zero chance of this happening, especially given he was riding for Olly Phillips.  And so I got to wondering; traditionally Australians love a punt so I’m guessing that there would have been bookies at a lot of amateur track racing through the years, taking bets on the handicaps. And in these handicaps, it would have been pretty common for the guys racing to agree before the race who was riding for who and who’d be in the chop. But were they backing each other on the tote? Are there stories of betting plunges and dudes throwing races back in the day?

I’m gonna try and find out some of this cycling history for you folks. Leave it with me.

Also, listen to Kevin Sheedy, he wasn’t always crazy.

Unless you think Sheeds was always crazy, in which case get on Vincenzo Nibali each way for Le Tour. He’s paying $26 for the win, and $5 just to make the podium. If you don’t have faith in Wiggins’ ability to stay upright for three weeks, or Cadel’s ability to stay healthy for more than a few days, then Nibali is your man.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stand Up Straight.

You know what pisses me off no end?'

People who don't clean their bikes.  

To clarify, I don't care if you don't clean your shitty bike.  You should see my sweet fixie.  The drive train looks like Mordor.  But that's ok, because it's my pub bike.  

But when you drop money on a bike of reasonable quality, you owe it to yourself as well as the bike, to at least give it a clean every now and then.  This is especially true if it's your race bike.  A clean bike is a fast bike.

So, on this given Heavy Metal Monday, I'll pass on some brief instructions as to how to give your bike a quick clean.  Please note that everyone has their own way of cleaning bikes.  If you disagree, or have a better way, then leave an angry or indignant comment.

First, you put on some music.  I would probably put on some Motorhead or something, but you can play the Smiths if you have to.

Next, chuck your bike in your bike stand.  If you're not lucky enough to have a bike stand, you can hang the nose of the saddle from the cloths line.  It works fine.  Assuming of course you have a good quality cloths line.

Right, so now you just wet your bike with the hose.  Don't hit it with too much pressure, just a gentle stream.  After that, hit the drive train with some kind of degreaser.  There are lots of eco friendly ones that don't do a good job.  Up to you.  Have a clean bike, or save the planet.  I use a strong citrus based engine cleaner.  Spray it all over the cluster and move the chain back a a bit so that's covered too.  Let that sit for a few minutes.  As you wait, spray your frame and wheels with some kind of soapy water or similar.  

After a few minutes, run the hose over the whole bike (careful of that pressure) and make sure all the degreaser and soapy water is gone.  If you have done it right, your chain should be sparkling.  If it isn't, the environment is thanking you.

Now all you have to do is clean the bike down with a dry rag.  This gets rid of any  grease smears that might still be hanging around, and also prevents the water from rusting any of the metal.  After that, dab some oil on your chain.  Not much though.  And be sure to wipe off any excess, so it doesn't go splattering off in different directions, spoiling your nice clean bike.  Rule of thumb: if you can see lube, it isn't doing anything useful.  So wipe it off.

There you go.  Your bike is now clean and ready to ride/race/go shopping on.  

But the Motorhead record still has heaps to go, so you should just stay outside and party.

Friday, May 4, 2012

You Fall In Love. You Speak Too Soon. You Ruin Everything.

Alright, Friday Roundup time! And folks, I have next to nothing for you today. You know how last week I mentioned that there weren't as many events going on, that winter was coming and that everyone was battening down the hatches, preparing to hibernate until spring? Yeah, well, it's happening.

One of the best things to do in the wintertime, when you're not spending as much time actually riding your bike, is to get fitted out. And my mate Dr Dom hit me up today, reminding me that he is one of the best bike fit gurus out there. He's sold up his old shop in High St, however, and is now taking clients on an appointment basis. If you're looking to buy a new fancy bike, if you think you could be more efficient on the bike, or if you think your bike isn't quite handling the way it should be, you should hit hip up on You won't regret it.

The other interesting thing I heard that's even vaguely bike related is that Pony Bikes now has an espresso machine. Given that Sasha Pony Bikes used to be a barista at A Minor Place, I can safely recommend both the quality of the work done in the workshop, and the coffee. Good times!

The trouble with not having much to round up is that you start asking other people about it, and then one thing leads to another, and before you know it you're taking fake fyxomatosis photos, and saying things like, "Arch your back, Andrew!" or "Just stand on your tippytoes a little, sweetheart," or, my personal favourite, "Pout! Dammit Blakey, pout!"

This was the most appropriate shot. I deleted all of the rest. For humanity's sake.

If this strikes you as a good idea, you can follow me on Instagram (xthenewtimerx), and/or just submit your own photos with the #fakefyxoshots hashtag. Twitter is also ok, and I go by the same name there. I'm not interested in cut-price representations of the real thing, however. There has to be an element of messing with the program. Either by gender bending, like Mr Ambiguity above, or by using a total beater bike, or by wearing your worst commuter attire and posing out on your hybrid like a supermodel. It all works for me. And perhaps I'll get Mr White himself to be the judge - with a bit of peer pressure I'm sure he'll even kick in some prizes. Will be rad.

And that's the roundup for today! A competition! Sweet!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Want To Reach Out And Touch The Sky.

Hey, I totally should begin by apologising for this edition of "xBBx and FJ Talk Pro Cycling" being so late, but I'm not going to. Wanna know why? I'll tell you why. Because FJ just moved into New Timer House! These are exciting times indeed. If we could convince Sean the Man to move in we'd be all set forever.

So that means, of course, that this edition of "Talk Pro Cycling" is coming to you live, as determined by my slow typing. FJ has made some tea, we're sitting around the kitchen table and talking shit about bikes and the slightly nerdy individuals who ride them. It's a totally rad time.

B: So, FJ, welcome to the newest edition of "xBBx and FJ Talk Pro Cycling." How's it going?

FJ: Glad to be here Brenno.  Thanks for driving all my shit over in your sweet station wagon.  Sorry my parking was so atrocious.  The best bit was when you were so stoked about my copy of Volume 4 on vinyl.

B: I expect that as the week progresses I'll be reacquainted with a number of my old hardcore records and we'll both rediscover how much we love Metallica. Neither of those things explains why we're currently listening to The Beat, but whatever.

So, on to Pro Cycling - and, funnily enough, on the topic of English subcultures, you've recently declared yourself a fan of Tour of Romandie winner Bradley Wiggins. Are you jumping on the bandwagon here, FJ? Or just recognizing that he looks the goods at the moment?

FJ: As if there's a Wiggo bandwagon.  Nah, I'd like to say I have studied his results and have thus concluded that he is the man to beat.  But, really, I just saw an interview he did on cycling tips, and found him so funny and normal, I simply had to like him.  Telling journalists to come up with better questions next time?  Legendary.

As well as that, he seems like he has confidence in himself.  I'm always being told by older racers that I need to have more confidence in my own ability.  Wiggins looks like he might have just that.

I still think his ankles are fucked though.

B: What's wrong with his ankles?

FJ: OMG HAVE YOU SEEN HOW FUCKING SKINNY THEY ARE?  They are like chicken legs but skinnier.   I have my doubts as to whether they can win a grand tour.

B: This is my other doubt about Wiggins: He seems to crash a little bit. While I know there's a lot of luck involved in winning a tour, and that he can't be held responsible all of the time, I think there are times he's not concentrating 100%. There, I said it. He's probably busy wondering how he can get his hair to look more like Paul Weller's.

Hey, I think the Giro is starting soon. Any thoughts?

FJ: How a race that copies another race ever got off the ground is beyond me.  The organisers have spent decades trying  to convince everyone that the glory of the Giro is in itself a great thing.  Who the fuck are they fooling?  At the end of the day, the winner has to wear a pink jersey.  That's all their credibility gone right there.  You could summit eight five mountain passes in the blinding fog, and still be a loser, because you end the day in a pink cardigan.  Bugger that.  The only thing worse than that is the Tour of South West jersey which, by the way, I only saw from a distance.  I can confirm though, that it was hideous.

In regards to the actual race, Basso seems real keen to win it.  He probably will.  Dude can ride. 

But, to be honest, I'll probably just read updates in the morning, then pretend I watched it on TV.  Hey, when do we get our TV?  I have X Files to watch.

B: I dunno. If Fixed.Org doesn't come through by the end of the week I reckon I'll just hit up Myers and try to steal one. Sometimes it's easier to steal from Myers than it is to find the cash register. Sometimes I get the impression that the organizers of the Giro feel the same way - they steal some of the riders from the Tour, avoid paying as much prize money, and everyone seems to have a better time.

Hey FJ, did you read about Nicholas Roche talking about how cycling needs to clean up its image by clamping down on unzipped jerseys?

FJ: Who the fuck is Nicholas Roche?

B: Stephen Roche's son.

FJ: Who the fuck is Steven Roche?

B: Some guy who used to ride his bike a bit. And Nicholas Roche is the guy who hasn't ever won anything halfway important, but still managed to write an autobiography.

Incidentally, I nearly married a girl from the UK whose last name was Roche. I wonder if they were related. I'd ring her up, but let's just say that I wouldn't get through.

FJ: Oh right.  I just knew him as old mate.  I'm deeply suspicious of sporting autobiographies, let alone sports people who haven't done anything.  Unless you're Bertrand Russell, or Muhammad Ali, no one gives a shit.

As for zipping up jerseys, I'm the opposite.  Nothing says awesome like a rider going uphill with their jersey unzipped.  I know I had mine billowing in the breeze at the Baw Baw classic a few weeks back.  Though 'billowing' might be a little misleading, as it implies speed.  I climbed that mountain so slowly, my jersey looked like a flag in the eye of a storm.

If Roche is so concerned about sponsors getting their money's worth, by making sure jerseys are zipped up, maybe he should start winning first.  Cos ain't no one watching the douche bag rolling through in 39th place, with his zip caught in his five o'clock shadow.

B: Hey, I see Mark Renshaw is going to the Giro. What do you make of that? Do you reckon he won't ride The Tour? Does this mean he's not up to getting up in the Cav v Goss show?

FJ: Let's be honest here.  He wasn't gonna be up there in the Cav v Goss show anyway, even if he was there.  Ever seen anyone win in orange?  Good on him for giving the Giro a crack.  I'm sure he'll love the eighty thousand metres of vertical climbing.

B: Yeah, I think his early years training as a track sprinter are really going to help with that.

FJ: Nothing like doing keirins to help with trying to chase Ivan Basso after he's got the scent of a prosciutto panini into his nostrils.  Listen carefully during the mountain stages.  You might just hear old mate Mark pop from Fitzroy.

B: Well FJ, I think that might do for tonight. Anything else you wanna ad?

FJ: Yeh, man, you sure have a lot of Crimethinc books.  I might read one.

B: Shut up, dick.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Don't You See Me Down Here Praying?

Today I had to take a friend to the dentist, way out in the suburbs. I knew in advance that between the journey to Gladstone Park and work I wouldn't be able to find the time to blog, even if today is Lazy Writing Wednesday. So I worded up Sean the Man Hurley to take care of today's issue.

"So the theme today is the music of the Tour of Taiwan

This race had a genuine protour team, and they made it known that they were in the big league. If the small conti teams didn't back themselves Saxo Bank wouldve won the race before anyone clipped in. Turns out that on a sporting level they weren't much more than Jono Cantwell, and he sure as hell isn't out of reach. On the staff side, they just washed bikes and did laundry like the rest - so they certainly weren't given that pedestal they wanted.

The most stressful thing about a tour is the transfers. Riders go in big ass busses, staff in team cars. Taiwan has a stupid amount of traffic and no shortage of road names that aren't in English. The tour set up a single lead car for the 18 team cars to follow through. If you get caught at a red light 5km into 140km transfer that is the last you'll see of the convoy, and you're on your own in the traffic. This ment position in convoy was paramount. Not unlike a keiren. This was done at high speeds and was very physical. One time we lined up at a toll both, the lead car went through and the chase was on. Ed from Champion Systems thought he had it in the bag but we slipped underneath him. We had it locked in for sure. but oh no, Rusvelo had other plans and tried to squeeze in. We didn't budge. They kept getting closer, we'd push back. Next thing our passenger side mirror and their drive side mirror are overlapping and there is a parked car ahead. Rusvelo looks over cold as ice. We don't budge. He holds firm. Then he jams on the brakes losing all important position. His eyes stayed locked on us. Oh those Russians.

Note: Drapac duo Ag and Jono should great patience and poise to kill the transfers cup with aggressive moves through dense traffic in the last block to the destination

I don't like pearl jam, and I didn't like the north of Taiwan. The cities were typical cities, too many people, too many cars, too much noise. As soon as you left the metropolis it turned to an industrial & agricultural wasteland. To me it seemed like a sci-fi book where mankind had gone too far. Disgusting. A good place to do business, and not much else.

By the time the tour went south, I was over Taiwan. The early mornings, late nights and the stench of shot on the street was taking its toll. Enter Tainan. A city with culture, history & trees. Rolling into town she was easy on the eyes, and the beauty was deeper than the skin. The people didn't seem as anonymous, pushy or afraid to smile. To make things better we were staying in what I was told was the best hotel in Taiwan. We also had a banquet, including some entertainment in the form of shitty love ballads & rad traditional dance. There was a special surprise birthday cake presented by a few big wig politicians and major sponsors for yellow jersey Rhys Pollack. Much to the embarrassment of his team he wasn't in attendance! Grand hotel, decadent ceremony & lavish food. As a side note all the bikes were stored in a ballroom acessable via a batmanesque industrial lift. Bad ass.

Once the race is all said & done, bikes are packed & luggage is sorted, you are off the hook. And when you are off the hook in Kaoshing, that means one thing. Fireworks. There aren't too many sure things in this world, but scholars & teen mothers agree that booze, fireworks & a new city will always be good fun. There is plenty more to that story but let's leave it there."