Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Working Full Time.

Hey, just because this blog isn't being updated any more, doesn't mean I'm not writing at all. Check out the article I wrote for Cycling News here. Doing the story was a heap of fun, and I'm looking forward to more bits and pieces in the new year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

She Prefers Fire.

In light of some recent news, The New Timer is going on temporary hiatus. We'll notify you good folks on Facebook and Twitter when we're back.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tugging At My Shirt.

Friday Roundup! Friday Roundup!

First of all, while a lot of the cyclocross this year has taken on an air of seriousness, there's no way in hell that the good people at Dirty Deeds will let that foul stench besmirch next Saturday night's Spooky Cross. Apparently a smoke machine tent has been procured, and I keep seeing folks on Twitter asking about lasers. And Hamish and I will be on the mic again!

Cut Sick were one of my favourite bands of about five years ago, and they're playing a show tonight. It's being combined with bassplayer Steve's art show, and they're being supported by the Onyas. Those are two excellent reasons to go. Plus, I keep hearing folks whose tastes in music I really rate that I'd really like White Walls, who they're also playing with. Plus, it's at the Gaso, so you'll be able to give Kody's ass a little squeeze from me while you're there.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tara Jayne is in town, and that means Shit Weather are playing a show. It's tomorrow night, also at the Gaso, and is with a bunch of other bands I've never heard of. They always put on a good show though, so you should check them out.

And, you know what, that's about it from me today. I got a pretty funny week coming up - Curriculum day Monday, another two doctor's appointments Tuesday, then a half-day strike Wednesday. Should be pretty cruisy, come to think. I hope yours is just as relaxed.

And It's Time, Time, Time That You Love.

Tara Jayne and I are hanging out on Brunswick Street, strolling along in the misty rain. She's lived in Sydney a while now (remember when she left? Man, that time sucked), and tells me that coming back down to Melbourne feels stranger than it used to. "When I lived here I had so much to work on," she says, "But now, when I have a day off, I'm kind of at a loss. I just don't know what to do." I kinda know how she feels. Now that I'm not riding my bike so much I have all this time, and occasionally I have no idea how to fill it. I read books, I run errands around town, I catch up with old friends, but sometimes I find myself with an empty hour and no way to fill it. In a strange way, that's a pretty good feeling. As opposed to the hours when I was sticking to a program, or the hours when I'm at work, those empty hours feel like they wholly belong to me. It's like I can stretch out in them, unravel a little, take them or leave them. Or do both, if I choose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three. That's The Magic Number.

I've known Jen Jen, pictured above showing off some salt and pepper, for probably six or seven years now, but it's only recently that we've started having a regular catch up. Both of us are teachers, which generally allows us to knock off around four on a Friday afternoon, and spend the couple of hours between work and dinner drinking coffee, talking shop, gossiping and generally chatting. She won't hate me saying that in the past few years she's settled down a bit -  worked a steady job, got married, bought a house - but that doesn't stop her from throwing down when the music is right. So it made sense to ask her to take on a Music Wednesday. Here goes. I'm hoping she doesn't use this opportunity to get me back for the time I told the whole internet she looked disheveled.

Brendan asked me to do Music Wednesday, so here are some songs that always make me dance around like a fool.

When I was a youngster, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so much, I even had the Pizza Power board game. TMNT combined with Vanilla Ice is just a winning combination really.

I also loved the Labrynth, but I always felt a bit uncomfortable about David Bowie’s pants in that movie. This song is a party favourite though, guaranteed to make you feel a bit sexy.

When I want to feel like the most amazing dancer in the world, I play this song and dance around the living room. In my head, I have the best hip hop moves of anyone I know. Oh, and it also uses Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (I can’t believe they were never a couple!).

Speaking of Kenny, when I was a kid, I thought him and Willy Nelson were BFFs. I don’t know if they really were. But I also love Johnny Cash.

And finally, something completely different. Metric are great, this song rules for singing along to and having a boogie in the car.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Invent A Fire.

I rode my bike around Cuba once. It was pretty good. I quickly discovered two things: 1) that once I figured out all the vegan words (no carne, no leche, no huevos) I could eat just fine, and 2) that Cuba has hills. The latter was the more disturbing discovery. I was no cyclist back then, and I'd hastily thrown together a bike with a minimum of expertise. In fact, I'd bought a cyclocross bike on ebay for the purpose of touring, but the UPS fucked up the shipping somehow and the racks we had didn't fit it. So I ended up throwing the racks and panniers on an old flat bar hybrid and riding that around for two months. It didn't have a computer, didn't have fully working gears, and only barely fit me. It lasted pretty well though, only breaking a spoke in the last 2 hours of our entire journey. I loosened the brakes, limped it home and abandoned the wheel at Havana airport.

After three months of Canadian winter I was vastly unprepared for the Cuban sun, and was brutally sunburned on the first day in the saddle. On my first day in a proper town - Vinales - I hunted down an old clothing store and found a long-sleeved business shirt that kinda fit me, and that I consequently wore the entire way around the island. It was almost transparent with sweat most days, but would come good with a decent rinsing, and kept the UV rays away from my poor skin. That evening in Vinales I rode up to an old tobacco homestead and surveyed the realm. Wearing my business shirt with the collar turned up I felt like I was part of a forgotten era. And then, on the way back down the hill, when one of the locals whispered to me, "You want cigar? You want rum? You want woman?" the feeling was compounded, and no longer as fun.

I also brushed up against the Cuban music scene once. I was walking back to my room in Holguin one evening when I saw what seemed to be a band setting up. Later that night when I returned to sate my curiosity a fully-fledged metal show was in progress. Seems the kids in Cuba listen to way too much Cradle of Filth (at the risk of insulting any Cradle of Filth fans who also happen to be reading this blog – which kinda makes my head explode to consider – I’m going to suggest that any Cradle of Filth is way too much). After a couple of minutes some locals came up for a chat. I told them that I was more into punk than metal, and they gave me the names of a couple of bands I should check out. The concept of ironic detachment, however, hadn’t quite made it to Cuba when it comes to band nomenclature – one of them was ‘Porno for Preacher’, and the other I think roughly translates to ‘Y’know, someone should tell those earnest kids on the corner selling badges that communism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’.

The shittiest part of the trip, strangely enough, was in the last few nights, when I'd booked into a fancy resort in the beach town of Varadero. I'd been pretty well looked after by the locals throughout Cuba, staying in people's houses, being fed beans and rice and eating random fried vegetables on the street. But being in the resort kinda sucked. I'm no resort snob - fuck, I love cable TV, self-service salad bars and clean bedsheets every day - but this is where the two factors peculiar to me (that I was riding a bike, and that I am vegan) became increasingly and noticeably difficult. The resort just wasn't flexible enough to deal with either, accustomed as it was to churning through identical German tourist after German tourist.

But that's just the bad bits. The good bits were far more prevalent, if slightly less funny. The beaches, as you can see above, were spectacular, and the water bathtub warm. The people were for the most part fucking awesome, especially when they found out I was from Australia. Riding my bike meant that I was occasionally stopping where few other tourists did so, and while that occasionally meant drop toilets and no hot water, it also meant I occasionally stumbled onto places like Gibara, an old port where few folks other than locals ever ventured.

However, one time in particular stands out. I was riding west from Santiago de Cuba and was supposed to be stopping at some random ranch about fifty kilometres away. On my arrival at the ranch I discovered that it had been closed due to cyclone damage. There was no other place to stay anywhere nearby, so I had no other option than to soldier on to Pilon, a further fifty clicks down the road. It was a freaking spectacular road, easily the rival of the Great Ocean Road, with the Sierra Maestra (where I believe Guevara and Castro and Haydee Santamaria hid out during the revolution) on my right and the Carribean on my left, but by the end of the day I was out of water and in no state to appreciate it. Eventually I arrived in Pilon and found a small hotel that mercifully had a pool. 100ks was easily the furthest I'd ever ridden a bicycle at that time. I figured I'd be wrecked the next day and booked in for two nights. But the next day, well watered and well fed, I was ready to go again. In fact, by midday I was kinda missing the bike, and went for a ride around the tiny town. I hadn't wanted to ride 100ks in a day, but now that I realized I could, a bigger world was opening up for me. And that was a pretty good thing indeed.

Blood On My Hands

The problem with being a vegan is that the minute you get sick, no matter what kind of illness you have come down with, most people will tell you that it is because you are vegan.

I have been sick a lot the past five months, so I'm beginning to get suspicious myself.  I mean, who can blame me?  Surely a good sausage roll will solve the problem.

The real bummer here is, of course, when sickness disallows me from riding my bike.  The minute I seem to string a good week together, the next week seems to be plagued with niggling illness, bad weather, or a bad case of the ceebs.

With this in mind, here are FJ's criteria to know when you are sick, followed by how to make ya feel better.

1. You wake up unable to swallow.  Swallowing is really painful.  You don't just have a sore throat.  No, you have swollen tonsils.  Forget about riding.  Forget about talking.  Just forget about having a good time for the coming days.

2. You get out of bed, and are a bit achey.  Head is all fluffy, and you aren't as hungry as usual.  When you get on the bike it's a struggle to even turn the pedals, let alone put any power down.  You probably have the beginning of flu.  It's gonna suck for the next three to four days.  Accept your lot, and go watch Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  And Snatch.  'Do you like dags?'

3. You wake up and you can't see because looking at light makes your head explode with pain.  You have meningitis.  You might die.  If you don't, you can ride in a week or so.

4. You're heart slows to a dangerous level while you sleep.  You have taken EPO.  That is so cool.

I have had all of the above, at some point, except for EPO (but if anyone knows anyone, hit me up).  I even rode home from a party after meningitis had set in.  It was pretty horrible but, on the other hand, my hallucinations were so severe I barely knew where I was.

I used to try and do the 'work through the sickness' thing.  All that seems to involve is going to work, sneezing on everyone, complaining about how you can't get any work done, and taking twice as long to get better.  These days I just call in sick, sit under a blanket, eat lots of healthy food, and twice as much of it, so I usually come good within 48 hours.  It'd be pretty good if the past three months hadn't been punctured with shit two day periods.  With this in mind:

1. Drink lots of water.  So boring, but so necessary.  I tried beer once.  It didn't work.

2. Eat fuckloads.  I got this off Jez 'Crossboss' Soawyer.  Just eat twice as much as you normally would.  So far, so good.

3. Sleep.  Get ten hours if you can.  If you're unlucky, you'll have a blocked up nose that causes you to wake up every two hours.  Sucks to be you.

4. Don't ride.  Even the smallest training ride will suppress your immune system to some extent.  Just take it easy for two or three days.  Think about how fresh you'll be when you get back to it!

5. Watch Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  It is a scientific fact that watching English thugs say funny things and shooting each other will, at the very least, reduce the time in bed by a third.

If you are sick, get well soon!  If you're not, carry on as per usual.  Let me know where you get your sausage rolls.

Charles, get the air rifle.  We're being fucked...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Catatonic State.

Hi. This is the Friday Roundup. It's pretty good.

First of all, because I have a little bit of spare time this Sunday Morning, I've reluctantly agreed to take the Sunday Skills Session at DISC this week. Starting at 8 and going til 11, it promises to be three hours of jam-packed goodness with sweet sugary sprinkles. I did tell people in other parts of the internet that we'd do lots of positioning drills, but now I'm thinking I might just make people do chases - you know, where you have to lap the bunch - until they can't walk any more.

But before that there's the last installment of DISCO Track. Apparently this is the one where they hand out all the prize money. And, in further good news, this time the maximum gearing allowed is a 92.6, which was apparently Gary Neiwand's gear of choice back in the day. You should go down there. The music won't be good but the racing will be.

And maybe, after you've killed yourself on the track, you could go for a nice easy recovery ride in the woods. You know, like Gravel Grinders #8. Be aware, however, that this ride may not be nice, or easy, or encourage recovery in your tired limbs. Will probably still be a good rocking time though. Probably way better than Around The Bay In A Day, which is also on Sunday, but which sounds like kind of a drag.

Monique called me out on overlooking the Breeze program last week, which meant I didn't know about the launch until it was way too late. But still, it sounds like a freaking rad idea - if you're female and even vaguely interested in participating in bike racing, group rides, or even being a better cyclist, you now have a first point of call.

I believe the Tour of the Goldfields started today. It's taking place around Ballarat and involves a bunch of the nation's best female cyclists. Man, this would be some serious racing. In that link there's a sweet interview with Lisa Jacobs, but she's gonna have some tough competition from Netti Edmondson and a bunch of other big hitters. It'd be good watching, should you find yourself in Ballarat this weekend.

I'm not going to Ballarat this weekend though. I'm going to watch Shellac play. Twice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


For some reason, on my way home this evening, I ended up with this song stuck in my head:

I was never a huge fan of Nirvana, never owned an album, but obviously the grunge era has left its mark on me, in that way that in left its indelible mark on everyone who grew up in the 90s. So today I present to you guys perhaps the most difficult Music Wednesday I've ever done: Grunge That Doesn't Suck.

I remember Dan O'Donnell telling me about this film clip a long time before I ever saw it. Dinosaur Jr didn't really sound like many other grunge bands, and as such hold up considerably better. I've been listening to a heap of them lately - the new album is a bonafide banger, and listening to it makes me feel good about everything in the entire world. Apparently the band is known for their quirky filmclips. Who knew? I thought this one was a one-off.

Smashing Pumpkins were a band I couldn't listen to for a really long time. I hated them so much that when someone pointed out that Kirsten Dunst looks like Billy Corgan with hair, I started hating her too. But then one day I was climbing up Tawonga Gap on my fixie. It was hard, and I was struggling. Just when I thought I was going to have to get off and walk my bike, this song came on the iPod. And it was rad. I didn't walk.

Nothing about Sonic Youth sucks, apart from maybe their recent breakup. I can even handle the later, all-feedback, all-the-time records. They did get lumped in with other grunge bands though, which seems unfair sometimes, but not so unfair when you listen to this song. I think I read somewhere that Ian Mackaye is playing guitar on this track, which perhaps marks his first and only major label appearance. Way to sell out, Ian!

I remember stagediving at a school social to this song, hitting the air just as the chorus kicked in. Not bad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

We Like To Party.

Cuz Bro was riding home from Revolver at some ungodly hour of the morning, pinging out of his mind, when he saw some flashing lights out of the corner of his eye. He wasn't wearing a helmet, didn't have any lights, and was riding a bike without one legal workable brake. So he did what anyone else would've done in that situation - you know, if their brain was sufficiently addled by a volatile mix of party drugs. He hit the gas.

Of course, the difference between Cuz Bro and most people is that Cuz was a hell of a cyclist. He even won the Metros one year. The only thing stopping him from being a more successful cyclist was his tendency to crash. This also turned out to be the only thing stopping him from being a more successful getaway artist. The cops drew up beside him and motioned for him to stop. Cuz didn't agree with their suggestion, and hit the anchors, thinking that he'd swerve behind them and duck down an adjoining street. However, as soon as the cops saw him apply whatever braking power he could muster, they too hit the middle pedal, and started skidding to a stop. The two skids combined to make the picture above, which I was somehow credited with, but which I think was actually taken by Cuz himself.

The story doesn't stop there, however. Firstly, when asked where the brakes were on his bike, Cuz informed the officers that it was a special bike that had brakes in the bottom bracket. They seemed to buy it. The officers then inquired why Cuz hadn't stopped when he had seen the flashing blue and red lights. Cuz told the obviously confused and bewildered gentlemen of the law that he had not realized that those lights had belonged to a police car, and thought it was just a continuation of the party he had just left at Revs.

And then, in case the cops were still in any doubt as to his mental state, he started dancing.

Yeah, he got all the fines. Except for no brakes. They did buy that. Somehow.

In The Gutter.

So.  While we here at Heavy Metal Monday were racing our bike out in the Otways in the Great Ocean Road Classic team time trial handicap (otherwise known as the alleycat for dentists), real cyclists were racing the Melbourne to Warnambool.

This happens every year after the Warny comes and goes.  I look at all the photos, all the pain faces, listen to all the people who tell me it's shit, always resolving to give it a crack one year.

Thus, it's decided.  

Next year, FJ is going to race the Warny.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

All The White Horses.

No money was received for the epic picture at the start of today's thread. In fact, Gene just tore that logo off his legwarmers, and then faithfully reconstructed it for my instagramming enjoyment. So, this installment of the Friday is brought to you not by the good folks at RaphaTM, but by Gene. Whose trademarks are not registered. Whose rights are not reserved.

Hey, first of all, this Saturday is the Warny! I reckon at least ten cyclists you know are having a crack at the 260ks, and about half of them are going to finish. The day after that is the Shipwreck Coast Classic, the famous race in which Gene allegedly once beat Nathan Haas. Sure, rumour has it that Haasy was drunk at the time, but you know, a win's a win.

My new favourite Melbourne band Ratsak are playing a bunch of shows in the next few months, starting with this one at the Old Bar. Yep, that's Grover singing again. I bet he's still just as intimidating to watch live as when he was in Paul of Blood. Jeez, it took some serious internetting to find any information on that particular band.

In other news, the day of the Fixed.Org Show N Shine is fast upon us, so if you've got a bike that looks a bit schmick, get out the WD40, polish that baby up, then bring it on down to the Electron Workshop to show off to all your friends. You could win some sweet prizes. More information, perhaps obviously, is available on Fixed.Org here.

And hey, before that, not this Sunday but the next, there's another edition of the Melbourne Gravel Grinders. You know, I might actually go on this one. A nice ride in the country would suit me right down to the ground at the moment. I guess it depends on whether or not I can convince the Revolution to loan me a sweet Yeti CX bike. Not that I'd need it - they're all roads, remember, so you could ride your road bike - but you know, a little extra comfort occasionally goes a long way.

In other racing related news, Northcote Cycling Club - who are actually pretty good at Facebook, with the results pretty much going up as they come in - are doing this crazy awesome Omnivember event throughout November, with ten events over five days. I have no idea what the ten events could be. I mean, I'm pretty good at imagining, but I only get to eight or nine. Eitherway, it promises to be shitloads of fun. Check it out here.

And, that's about all I've got for now. Have a good weekend!


Could I Have Hit The Nail Much Harder On The Head?

Oh man, I really could not give a flying fuck about the whole Lance Armstrong doping case that everyone - even the mainstream media - is talking about right now. I mean, for one reason, Brynne: My Bedazzled Life is currently on TV, and that's more interesting. Paul Licuria is on it and hot damn that man is a babe. I can almost forgive him for playing for Collingwood he's so fucking handsome. No one - I repeat, no one - in the Reasoned Decision document is as good looking as him (even if Michael Barry comes close, in a rough night, overlook the hair kinda way), and as such, my interest is already on the wane.

And then, you know, I had to go to work. And today we had students for the first time this term. They were all uncertain and trying to get to know each other and a little silly and show-off-y. We were all flat out flat out. I didn't even have time to check fixed.org, let alone read two hundred and two pages of legal documents. Man, I even got bored typing out the number just then.

And also, I've been really clumsy lately. I always thought I was kinda graceful - at least, ever since Alanna Rudolf told me that I was when she saw me rollerblading in year 12. My hand-eye co-ordination is pretty good (if Super Mario Brothers is any indication); I can mark a footy ok and rip out one hell of a slapshot and learn any variety of dance move, if given enough time; I can use any variety of dining implements. But lately I've been all over the freaking shop - the other day, for instance, I was holding an open packet of icing sugar, and it simply slipped out of my hands. I have no idea how - one minute I was holding it, the next minute:

And that's just the most aesthetically hilarious example. The last few months I've been bumping into things, knocking things over, making messes everywhere. It's kinda ridiculous, and, furthermore, kinda embarrassing. I have no idea what the hell is going on, but whatever the hell is, it's way more interesting than Lance Armstrong doping case. Because, you know, even if it is embarrassing, it's kinda funny, if not to me, then definitely to everyone else around. Those USADA lawyers should really have included some jokes.

But you know, the real reason that the Lance Armstrong doping case holds about as much interest for me as an impassioned debate in a 1994 issue of HeartattaCk zine about Jawbreaker selling out is that it just doesn't fucking make any difference to me whatsoever. There's about fifty people in the entire world whose lives will be in some way different after this case is all done and dusted, and they have every right to be all up in arms, feel angry or betrayed or upset. But surely for the rest of us the interest is purely academic - any emotional reaction seems weird and a little misplaced. The guy may have cheated, and he might get busted for it, but so what? There are babes on TV, work is busy, and lately I've been tripping over my own feet as if I'm Buster fucking Keaton. Spend your time checking that shit out instead.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spent Fifteen Years.

I was probably fourteen or fifteen when Petie Hyde handed me a tape with White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean on one side and How To Clean Everything on the other. Up to that point I'd been wasting my time listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and other terrible remnants of the grunge era, probably moping around and thinking how much life was, you know, like, a total bummer. But as soon as I put that tape into the deck, things were different.

I mean, all of a sudden I was confronted with music that I could run around and dance like an idiot to, but that also reflected my nascent politics. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that on more than one occasion I jumped around the year 11 form room to the song above, having been asked to leave the classroom by some teacher who was totally trying to oppress me.

Jamie Delley once pulled up into the driveway of my parents' house with this song absolutely blasting at definite-earbleed level from his car. I was late for school, and didn't hesitate to jump in, my head right next to the speaker in the backseat. The last few days my ears have been ringing uncontrollably. You do the math.

Lest you think I only listened to the "cool" punk pop from the "good" folks at Fat Wreck Chords, I'm confessing to not minding this song at all. In fact, I definitely remember being at parties and scowling in the corner at the terrible music and country bogans until someone left the stereo unattended long enough for me or someone else to sneak a tape into the deck, already cued up to blast this song out.

And, you know, this one too.

Contrary to popular belief, punk pop didn't die out altogether. I saw this band when I lived in Montreal. I'd gone along to see the Ste Catherines play, but were way more impressed by the support band. Only the other day did I discover that the singer used to be in Kid Dynamite. Then it all made sense.

I don't think I'm the only one who grew up with punk pop, and I definitely don't think I'm the only one who occasionally feels nostalgic about it now, so it makes sense that fucking rad people are starting to make it again. The above is one of the better examples, but I also can't let a conversation about punk pop go by without mentioning bringing up this band:

Sure, both the audio and video are terrible in this clip, but this more than any other song has shaped all of my present day ideas about living and how to best do it. So if you want a proper listen sometime, come over for a cup of tea and we'll listen to the seven inch until the damn thing wears out. Or, you know, make your own cup of tea and listen to it on myspace. Hey, apparently that's still a thing! Good for you, myspace.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We Sing To Free Ourselves From The Room.

Before, when I was really fucking serious about riding my bike, I was all about improving my body, both in terms of what it can do and how it does it. But now all I have to do is make sure I don't get unhealthily fat. That's liberating alright. I guess what's most emancipating about it is that I don't have to constantly evaluate how I'm doing, if I'm doing things correctly, if my legs are feeling sore or tired or a bit flat. I don't have to think about breathing through my diaphragm, don't have to take my heart rate every morning, don't have to weigh myself ever. Hell, I don't even have to really think about what I'm eating, beyond considering the aforementioned requirement to not put on a shit-ton of weight. Oh man, I could go on like this all day. This whole year I didn't have to go to bed early on a Friday night in order to be ready to race on Saturday morning. I didn't have to set my alarm for 6.30 in order to fit an ergo in before work. I didn't have to stretch, ever, and I didn't even look at the foam roller. That fucking bastard shitbreath asshat foam roller stayed under my bed the whole time.

I have no idea how I managed to do it all. Sure, lately I have quite a bit of spare time, and have been known to sprawl out a little bit more than usual, to relax and unravel in all the time I suddenly have available, but as the days click over I can't help but wonder where I fit it all in. And when that question comes, you know that right behind it is another question: why? The only answer I have is this - that endorphins are a hell of a drug. Yep. A hell of a drug.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday Morning.

We here at Heavy Metal Monday should apologise, first off, for our absence last week.  If it's any consolation to you, dear readers, in place of sitting here at the couch, hunched over a computer screen, I was out on the town with chums.  The we saw 'On The Road' at the cinema, and things took a turn for the worse.  Anyway.

Brendan, as you may have noted from his monday post, didn't really know where I was last weekend.  The photographic evidence he provided of me at the cycling cross, however, does indeed tell most of the story.  Here is my report from the weekends racing.

A contingent of some riders from Melbourne (I think there were less then ten, but I can't really remember) made the trip up to Sydney on Friday.  A delayed flight could not sway us from our chipper mood, in part helped by my getting delay vouchers off the check in lady.  A whopping eight dollars was spent at Hudson's on a jumbo soy latte, the lack of real money change made up for, by my emptying the chocolate sprinkly jar onto the top of my coffee.  Fearing that Nikcee and Blakey might start talking about cantilevers I wandered around with Steve and Clare, ate a foot long subway, and some sushi, and some gatorade, until I felt ill.

Then the flight occurred, wherein I remembered I get extremely motion sick at even the hint of motion sickness.  Fortunately I had my Sydney CX trip mix tape all ready to go, and I tried to zone out to the blissful tunes of Carly Rae Jepsen and Bolt Thrower.

On arriving at the hostel, somewhere forsaken on the Northern Beaches, I discovered they were playing Wolfmother.  Like.  The first album.  The one every dickhead was listening to in 2006.  Instantly transported to year 11, I cried a savage's cry, and ran from the room, only to return when someone opened the corn chip packet.

In the interest of brevity, I'll skip to the following morning.  The Melbourne contingent arrived at the location of cycling cross at approximately sometime in the AM, Saturday morning.  The Sydney CX mixtape had hit upon a spot of Venom and, to the sound off '1000 days in Sodom', we heralded our arrival as best we could.  On opening the car door, I tripped on my seatbelt, and was sent sprawling.  

Excellent start.

Given I had elected B grade for my cycling cross escapades, I was due to start shortly after out arrival.  I donned the stretchy clothing, did a quick tour of the course, in which I nearly ate shit multiple time, after which time it was time to wander over to the start line.  

Some minutes later I was thundering across the tundra, I mean grass, in about fifth wheel.  I was kinda surprised I was that far up to be honest, not having raced at all since May, and not having ridden a cross race since September last year.  Anyway, so that quiet sense of confidence slowly gave way to a sense of severe illness and the the strong desire to vomit up a lung.  As Steve's heckling became louder, and the urge to ride into Nikcee a little too tempting, the race was over.  I sat down, spent, and coughed up what looked like a bloody lump of something.

"How good was that?!" asked Steve.

"Fuck.  That was the shittest thing I have done for a long time" I replied.  

General attitude toward cycling cross notwithstanding, I then spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with the rest of the dudes, heckled a bunch, drank some beers, and waxed lyrical about No Doubt making so much more sense in NSW.  Seriously, it does.

That night I was super stoked to get blind, but by seven I was exhausted and suffering from mild heat stroke.  Not only that, but we had celebrated Kate's birthday at the local Indian joint, the patron's of which had stared bemused at the bunch of skinny people all wearing party hats.  It was at this particular dinner that CX rad-man Jeremy referred to the Ultimate Frisbee World Championships as, and I quote, "basically God camp", as the rest of the contingent choked on our garlic naan.  

I fell asleep by ten.

The following day the B grade race was at some ungodly hour.  Something like 9.30.  Suffice to say it took a great deal of coffee and asthma pump to even get me to the start line.  I won't bore you with the details, but I did a lot better, finishing in the top ten, jumped some barriers, and didn't bin it.  Win win.  Following that, I watched everyone else get rad, Nikcee and Blakey get lapped, Steve roll a tub and snap a chain, and Syd (the winner) ride the toughest uphill section with multiple jumps necessary, that every other ride struggled to run.  Holy shit.

I was so tired and sun fatigued by the end of the day, I virtually threw my bike into my collapsing bike box, sliding anything I didn't have a place for into the seat tube.  Genius.

To top off a cracking weekend, most of us then went to eat some delicious Lebanese food where I consumed by body weight in chickpeas and chips, while watching at least one passer by get roughed up by a motorcycle cop.

On the plane home, I listened to No Doubt, read a mag that Nikcee had leant me, and tried not to be too distracted by this one hostess lady.

In Melbourne, the taxi driver refused to take my bike, under the guise of it not fitting, the reality being that I didn't live in Dandenong and, thus, wasn't worth enough to him.

Cyclocross.  It isn't great.  But it's not bad either.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cartograph Them Secrets

I've been guilty, in the not-so-distant past, of telling the same stories over and over again. Of rehashing the same stories, teasing out the details, asking more and more questions about intentions and motivations and meaning. Sometimes this makes me a little self-conscious, and I wonder if I'm being boring, repeating myself over and over and over again.

But then, reading through The God Of Small Things the other day, I come across this:

"The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don't surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover's skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don't. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won't. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn't. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic."

I started today re-reading my old zine. My brain wasn't working so great and I felt like I needed some old stories to ground me a little. It struck me that lying around reading zines was still a perfectly legitimate way to spend my time. So perhaps this weekend you should wander down to Sticky zine store and pick up a couple of random issues of someone's handiwork. Stay away from the poetry though.

That could work out pretty well, actually, because the weather is supposed to turn to shit tomorrow, raining and windy all day. I'd complain more about it, perhaps even trot out one of my dad's favourite jokes (What do you call the day after two rainy days? Monday), but really, I've been blessed by two whole weeks in the sunshine, so I got nothing bad to say.

However, there ain't much else going this weekend, the last weekend of spring break. Right now I'm jetting off to see McNabb, who I've known for ages but hardly get to see any more. I'm pretty happy with that. Enjoy your weekend!

Future Crimes.

I'm supposed to be going down to Harrison Street in half an hour or so, in order to do a little motorpacing, which will hopefully in turn keep my fitness up enough to occasionally still win a race on a Tuesday night. But again, enthusiasm is lacking somewhat. I've been floating around town on my bike all day, lingering long over lunch, eating icecream on the street, dropping in on friends. Eventually I head over the river to Shifter Bikes - yeah, see that link to the right just there - in order to have a chat with Dan, and pick up a part that we have finally decided to call the Cone Lock Nut, which doesn't sound dirty at all. In the time I was talking to Dan folks came and went, mostly on bikes, but some on foot, some in their cars. They were generally in a pretty good mood, even the guy who had just had his bike stolen. The first warm, really warm day of the year will do that to people. Folks take a little time out of their daily grind and take note of the sun, the wind, the sky. And that's always a good thing.

Actually, I reckon I've been doing this all Spring Break. And I can't think of a better way to have spent it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Fire Of My Youth.

Welcome to another Music Wednesday - or, as I like to call it, self-indulgence Wednesday. Rest assured, however, that today all north-of-the-river pretension and deliberate obscurity have been abandoned, and instead I present to you a bunch of songs that I knew all the words to when I was eleven.

By the late stages of Primary School I was already beginning to bristle against, you know, authority, man... And Betty Boo's seeming anti-school sentiments really resonated with me. Even if, during her Melbourne show, she was busted miming when she dropped the microphone and the lyrics kept spilling out.

I think I must've liked this song first and foremost because of the funny filmclip, because there's no way that I realized, in grade five, that the "Things that make you go hmmm" of the title referred to infidelity. In fact, I think at that point in my life I was pretty sure that infidelity was when you couldn't have babies. 

And, as my neighbours will now attest, apparently I still know most of the words.

As a result of loving the shit out of "Things that make you..." I remember actively sitting down and attempting to learn the words to this one, which was actually released first, and was probably more successful, despite being considerably less rad. However, in the odd, extraordinary situation where I'm forced to make up a rap, I always just bust out the second verse, and no one is any the wiser. Because hey, in this world I'm just a squirrel, trying to get a nut to move your butt.

Ok, every person you've ever danced with at a party knows at least some of the words to this song. And if you were unfortunate enough to be wearing yellow at that party, every other person there pointed at you and said, "hello", even though that's not how the narrative works out in the song. I'd go round correcting everybody, but I already get run out of parties often enough, thanks.

If I'm going to be honest here, I only really knew the "Hey, how you doing?" bit of this song, but that tiny section of this song has made such an indelible impression on my brain that whenever it's my turn to change the answering machine message at work, I have to fight the inclination to bust it out.

Here are two interesting facts about Snow: 1) The name of his record, "12 Inches of Snow", is that all-too-rare beast, the triple entendre. If you can figure out all three interpretations leave a message in the comments and I'll send you an imaginary prize. 2) When I lived in Kingston, Ontario, Snow was playing a show in one of the local bars. I was going to go, because I actually do know all the words to the chorus, and was keen to sing along, but I eventually decided the price of entry was not worth it. The price of entry was five dollars.

I loved it when I was eleven, and I still love it now. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Can't Think At All.

Jen Jen is back from China and I'm supposed to be meeting her for lunch in an hour or so. Facebook tells me she's at the hairdresser, though, so I figure I have a little time. I continue to do what I've been doing all morning - listen to records, browse through the internet, look outside at the blue skies and occasionally read. I was also able to chat briefly to Jamesy, who arrived home sometime late last night, but who was really only able to mutter something about Anna Meares' skinsuits before jetting off to his modelling gig. Yeah, it's a strange world we're living in.

Hot damn it's a beautiful day outside though. People have been asking me how I've been spending my Spring Break, and I've developed a singular answer: the same way as I spend my time normally, just slower. I've been running the same errands I run during schooltime, but I've been riding my bike instead of driving, listening to music, taking it easy, stopping for lights, not smashing it up hills or belting it through traffic. When I stop for coffee in the city I can linger a little longer than usual, lean back on the grass, look at the sky. When I have bills to pay or letters to post or clothes to repair I can take my time getting to the bank / post office / tailor, and use the trip as an excuse to meet up with friends in the neighbourhood. When people I know are busy with work or school or study I can bring them lunch. The combination of not training on the bike and not working (at least for a couple of weeks) has meant that I have a whole heap of time to spare, so much that it feels luxurious, like I can indulge myself in it like a cat eating cream.

I got a short little span of attention, though, and lately I've rediscovered that I'm interested in things other that cycling. Currently I'm less grumpy and cynical than I've been in years. Instead of thinking things like, "Why would I want to go to that new cafe? I can get everything I want at Wide Open Road." I'm now looking up new places online and checking out their menus. Instead of thinking, "Why the hell would I want new books when I can just reread The Rider for the eleventy millionth time?" I'm stopping in bookstores and browsing, trying to remember names of interesting writers that I vaguely remember from years and years ago. Writers that don't even mention bikes! Two years ago I wouldn't have understood, would've felt like I was wasting my time, would've signed up for extra pilates classes or done my core strength exercises or stretched instead. But now, for a number of reasons, I'm enjoying the hell out of the rest of life.

And this is where you come in. It's been four years since I've been interested in anything other than cycling, and consequently I'm a bit out of the loop. Melbourne seems like a new city to me at the moment. And back when I was traveling around a lot, whenever I landed in new cities I'd make my friends draw me up a map. On the map would be the things I was interested in: vegan friendly cafes and restaurants; alternative record stores; underground bookstores and sunny parks (incidentally, when I first landed in Glasgow I bugged my friend KA so much about making me a map that she, a geography major, drew hers up all wrong - I still maintain deliberately - and I ended up in strange neighbourhoods with no Bane records or Tofutti Cuties in sight). Now, I don't think I need a map of Melbourne, because I'm pretty familiar with the streets and suburbs, but I am taking recommendations on the cafes, bookstores, record stores, parks and ways to waste time. The comments section is truly made for this.

Work And Love.

Me and Hurley are sitting on the couch. "You know when Jamesy gets back?" He asks. I confess that I do not. He reaches for his phone and sends a text.

Hours later Jamesy still has not responded. We are beginning to wonder if something has happened. He was in Sydney for the Cyclocross, so there are perhaps three possibilities: he has gotten drunk and fallen asleep in a gutter in King's Cross; he is eternally trapped in a conversation about tyre pressure with Blakey and Nik Cee; or he has gotten drunk and fallen asleep in a gutter in King's Cross. Hurley is supposed to be picking him up from the airport. We don't know if he's flying back down or driving with the rest of the Melbourne contingent.

We're a little concerned, sure, but not enough to call anyone else, or stay at home waiting, or check Facebook. We go about the rest of our day without giving it much thought. The evening comes and we go our separate ways.

An entire day passes. Hurley is back in Shepparton and I'm riding my bike around town in the springtime sun. Eventually a text comes through from Jamesy. "Yo, I'm gonna be out till late. Do you wanna fill in for the blog," it says, "Soz, I totally forgot till now." It does not say where he has been, where he is, and if he is still either drunk or having the letters PSI tattooed on the back of his neck.

Fucking cyclocross.

Photographic evidence that Jamesy, wherever he was, was riding his cyclocross bike this weekend. And was fucking stoked about it. Or was drunk. Probably drunk.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Guess It Comes Down To What Kind Of World You Want To Live In.

I fucking love this city but sometimes I just want to get the fuck out. Right now is definitely one of those times. The entire city is grieving, crying, lashing out, apportioning blame, trying desperately to find a way to cope with being very suddenly, very noticeably different. None of us know what to do, and in our inability to articulate these feelings we fall back on our politics, our prejudices, our ineffective language. Our lines of communication turn into arguments and in our anger we focus again on our differences, ignoring - or perhaps avoiding mentioning - the one thing we have in common: that right now, we're all scared. Not just of randoms in the street, but of death, of dying, of losing those who we love. Of loving someone who is no longer there.

It's Friday and you're probably making plans for the weekend. You may even have come to this blog looking for ideas. But this weekend I don't have any ideas about how you spend your time. All I want to do this weekend is curl up in bed with a whole loaf of raisin toast and a pile of books taller than me. The only idea I do have is that this weekend, no matter how mawkish or awkward or uncomfortable you feel about doing it, you should explicitly appreciate the good things you implicitly feel about the people around you. I don't care how you do it. Just make sure they know. It won't change anything about what has happened, it won't make it safer to walk the streets at night, it won't stave off dying. But it might make that fear seem a little smaller. It might help us all cope with a little more reason, a little more compassion and a little more care. It might give us all the little bit of extra strength we need to work to reduce the chances of anything like this ever happening to anyone, in our city or in any city, ever again.

Blessed And Powerless.

Jamesy and I are sitting in the living room. It is the first time we have seen each other in days, so of course we are spending this time our respective computers, trolling the internet for lolz. Well, actually, he's making a playlist for his impending trip to Sydney, and I'm looking up Jawbreaker lyrics. Both activities seem equally vital, but in an attempt to engage on some level, may I present to you the newest edition of XBBX and FJ talk pro cycling!

B: So, Jamesy, what's happening in pro cycling these days? I have no idea. I don't even know the cyclingnews.com website any more.

FJ: Holy shit, I have no idea.  I'm too busy riding in the sun to bother about professionals getting paid to take lots of red blood cells and wear tight cloths.  I mean, Phillipe 'I wear nose strips at all times' Gilbert just won the world champs on a course which was, basically, made for the dude.  Following his victory, the Italians made a lot of excuses, as they do every year, and Gerrans talked about being out of form and too short to do anything.  I just read on cycling news that Contador won his first one day race.  I've never heard of the race, but he looked happy in the photo of him crossing the line.  I suppose he's back on the steaks.  Not vegan.

B: It did look like the Italians handed Gilbert the world champs on a platter, which probably also carried some provolone and a delicious marscapone, therefore also deeming the entire world championships Not Vegan. That's a shame, because I was proper stoked with Marianne Vos' winning ride. What a mad dog. Folks blah blah blah on about Gilbert being the next Eddy Merckx, but hell, Vos has now won world champs on the track, road, and even in freaking cyclocross. I bet she'd even school folks in BMX, should she turn her ambitions that way.

FJ: Yeh it's a shame that she hasn't gotten more attention during her career hey?  We don't need her though!  Because our very own Anna Meares raced cross just the other week!  Seeing a track sprinter race cross must be a bit like seeing a cheetah knee deep in some Belgian mud, trying to lick embro off it's paws.  Read: never.  And, as I say to anyone asks, cross is just as hard as crits, but you go very slow and are covered in mud.  And people throw beer on you which, though it sounds hilarious, is distinctly un-funny when it happens eight times in a row.  So Vos can have that if she likes. 

B: On that topic, hipster target of affection Katie F'n Compton has announced she is going to ride the US National Madison Championships with friend of The New Timer Cari Higgins. I like this idea a lot. I can imagine muddy CX racers flipping out about having to put more than 50psi in their tyres, or realizing that they can wear their skinsuits non-ironically, or that there are races out there that are more spectator friendly than any cyclocross race anywhere. In fact, I like it so much, I may try to convince Lewis to come race the next Vic Madison Champs with me.

FJ: Well, first off, I had no idea who Katie Compton was, so I googled her.  Looks like she races a lot of cycling cross.  Good on her.  In regards to her racing a madison, that should be pretty funny I reckon.  It's funny you mention that track can be super spectator friendly.  We hear all these stories about track cycling being real popular back in the day, especially in rural Australia.  It was the kinda thing you went to watch on a Friday night, just like the footy.  It's almost as if cross has filled that role here, in Melbourne at least.  Which is kinda rad, but also kinda sad, because there's so much other racing that could have the same atmosphere and community, grass roots spirit.  I mean, I can wax lyrical about the creation and fostering of community all I want but, really, cycling has always been a sport where a bunch of scum get blind.  Whether it be at the track in the forties, at cross today, or on the high mountain passes at the Tour or Giro.

B: Not Edge.

FJ: No. Fuck, I love getting blind.

B: You're certainly better at it than you are racing the cycling cross.

FJ: If I had jumped a barrier for every time I have sunk a beer, I would probably be better than Lewis.  Fortunately, we have an agreement.  I am going to show him how to pick up girls if he shows me how to race a bike.

B: But Jamesy, Lewis is really good at racing cyclocross.

FJ: Yes.  We are going to trade equivalent skills. 

B: Uhhh, ok. Good luck with that. Anyways, transfer season is upon us, and your mate Mark Cavendish looks to be heading over to Omega-Pharma-Lotto. It'll be sad to see him and Wiggo go their separate ways, hey?

FJ: Well we can be sure the cornish pastie quota for Sky will halve.  I like to think of Wiggo and Cavendish as this odd-couple, who really love each other, but can't get past each others differences.  Wiggo probably walks into Cav's room, singing 'We Fell In Love In A Hopeless Place', this filthy smile on his face, while Cav just stares intently at replays of his victories on some i-pad like device.  Likewise, by the same token, I see Cav as the kinda guy who would lie in wait in a cupboard for hours, wearing a fitted sheet and a shoebox on his head, just so he can spring out at the exact moment Wiggins is at his most relaxed, stretched out, listening to The Jam, and scare the shit out of him.  The beef brought about by the 2008 Olympic madison has obviously settled but, obviously leading very skinny ankled men up the Alps isn't Cav's idea of fun.  Perhaps, through distance, their love will grow strong again.  I will miss seeing Wiggo in the yellow jersey, mixing it up in the bunch, to get Cav a good lead out though.

B: Yeah, me too. For me, that was one of the highlights of this year's Tour. And finally, Jamesy, I was just over at Velonews and stumbled upon this picture. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

FJ: No wonder they DNFed.  Who the fuck wants to be seen in that kit? You can just tell the short guy looking into the middle distance is watching Cavendish re-arrange his wang.

B: And, we're done.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Trace Your Outline In Spilled Sugar.

Hey, have I mentioned recently that it's Spring Break?

Talking on the phone to Rahne just now I realize that while Spring Break is definitely a euphoric time of year, it's also a time where much evaluation and contemplation takes place. Houses are being put in order, seeds being planted, plans being made for the coming year. It's times like these I always think about returning to the ancestral homeland - not just where my parents live, but where my parents' parents lived, where their parents lived before them. I'm lucky enough that neither side of my family has been severed from the land where they first landed - even through the vicissitudes of droughts, floods, plagues and bank managers, sections of both my mum's family in Balmoral and my dad's family in Woomelang still live short stone's throws from where they were raised. I'm disappointed in the end of this song - "and then I woke up and discovered it was all a dream..." - but hey, until then, and despite all the god stuff, I totally understand the inclination to get in touch with one's roots any time the going gets a little uncertain.

This isn't, of course, to say that everything is up in the air. Contemplation and evaluation doesn't necessarily mean change. Sometimes you think about things and realize that you've probably never felt better, that the situation you're in is perfect, that you are straightup, flatout, deadset happy. That's when the soundtrack for Spring Break goes from being introspective to extroverted. Like Nas in this clip, you're still using the minor keys, but you've got your big gold chain on and you got your buddy behind the decks announcing your presence before you even arrive.

And then, all of a sudden, you're all about Kanye. Sean The Man approves.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Between Past And Present Tense.

It is still Spring Break and I continue to spend my time in an undisclosed location. Rest assured that in this location the weather is fine, people are often viewed riding their bicycles, and vegan rice paper rolls are available in abundance.  Earlier this year the brake pads on my pub bike wore out, so instead of replacing them, I took the brakes off and flipped back to riding fixed on the street. I have a long history of making things more difficult due to my laziness, I believe beginning with the day I decided to keep a waterbottle in the shower for when I got dehydrated - you know, rather than simply getting out of the shower. And, currently, I need to put some oil in the car. I have the oil. I know how to put it in the car. But really, who could be bothered? So instead I'm riding my brakeless fixie everywhere all of a sudden, as if 2007 never ended.

Riding brakeless on the street demands more caution, which in turn means that I ride slower than I did when I rocked the freewheel. That's ok by me, because I have two weeks off, and don't need to be anywhere ever. I roll around, skip skid to a stop outside shops and cafes, use backwards pressure to slow down, practice monos, rarely bust out a proper skid. It took me a while, though, to remember the little tricks that make life a little easier - like, when you're stopped at lights and can't be bothered trackstanding, lifting the rear wheel up to position the pedals better; or taking corners a little wider to avoid striking the ground; or how to roll up to the cafe and dismount like a total pro. I gotta say, it's kind of fun. Like LAM says, however, riding a brakeless fixie is like picking a scab - it's interesting, and yeah, a pretty good time, but you know that nine times out of ten it's going to end in blood. For me that'll probably happen the day school goes back and I have to make it to Reservoir by eight thirts. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Languor Rises Reaching!

So Brendan, as you may or may not have noticed, is on Spring Break.  At least, I think he is.  I haven't seen that dude for, like, days...so maybe he's ill, or overseas, or in Footscray at the new Arthouse.

Spring Break means better weather, and with better weather comes post ride eating/drinking.  You wouldn't think something as simple as eating in tight clothing would be that difficult.  But, as we speak, thousands of cyclists across Melbourne are making total asses of themselves in various cafes and eating joints, leading to what I'm going to call 'general cycling distaste.'

GCD comes about when approximately eighty three over weight men riding Specialized Venges with ZIPP 404s all arrive at a small inner suburban cafe, sprawl over any table available, and then demand two flat whites each, looking the wait staff in the eye only to complain there isn't enough sprinkly chocolate on their beverage.  They will then almost certainly start squeezing the sweat out of their head bands/caps/over priced helmet, much to the horror/disgust of the normal customers who, in trying to drink a coffee in peace, have been subjected to the human equivalent of a herd of elephants gathering around a watering hole.

It's fair to say that this brand of Fred has given us all a bad reputation.  Given I do most of my training at night, I quite enjoy rounding the night off with a burrito or a burger.  That said, I'm sensible enough to sit outside, quietly eat my burger, and then get the hell out before anyone else asks what the putrid death smell is.  Despite my caution, whenever I, or my friends, arrive at an eating establishment in lycra, we are looked upon as if we were masked and holding heavy weaponry, such is the fear and disgust on people's faces.  Given that my presence isn't that offensive, I can only conclude that the young beautiful people of Fitzroy, almost all of whom seem to work in hospitality, have undergone horrific experiences at the hands of old men in shiny cloths.

So it is with some hope that we can set the rules straight.  Although a general Fugazi-esque rule of 'don't be a fuckwit' should suffice, it doesn't seem that everyone has got the message.  Here are the primary rules of post ride dining.  Note that this is the bare minimum to avoid looking like yet another midlife crisis on tubulars.

1. Slow down as you approach the eating location.  I can't count the amount of times I have seen some bloke yelling to his mate about how good his aero wheels are, as he nearly knocks over some stressed out waitress, causing her to spill the 9 baby-chinos being demanded by the mothers in the corner.

2. Lean your bike somewhere appropriate.  Although passive aggressive notes on residential fences asking bikes not to be put there aren't exactly great, they are probably brought about by some dickhead placing his bike into a prize winning shrubbery or something.  And, if you can see that the cafe restaurant windows are sparkly clean, maybe don't lean your filthy bike up alongside it, just so you can 'keep an eye on it'.  Mate, you live in Malvern.  No one is going to steal your whip.  Everyone else probably has a better one.

3. Don't try and fit your whole bunch around a small table, filling the footpath with sweaty people.  It's just shit.

4. Gloves, sunnies, helmets out of the way of others and the table.  You wouldn't put your gym shirt on the dinner table would you?

5. Manners. It actually makes me angry how often you see a bunch of cyclists speaking rudely/indifferently to staff at eateries.  Just make a little eye contact and say please and thankyou.  Jesus.

6. Fussy orders.  As a vegan, I'm aware I'm treading a fine line here but, seriously, just have your eggs on toast and bail.  Now isn't the time to fuck around with Hollandaise and shitaki mushrooms.

7. Payment.  This kind of relates to the sweat issue.  Make sure your cash money or card is somewhere where it isn't going to get covered in sweat.  You should see the horror in the eyes of the hospo worker who has to take three crinkled, dripping twenties.  It's as if they just walked into Mordor with no lambas bread.

8. On leaving, try and make sure you don't knock over any prams, run any old ladies down, or generally make an ass of yourself.

This stuff really shouldn't be so tricky, but apparently it is (I have broken almost all these rules at some point).  I'm sure it's the relationship between the euphoria of exercise, coupled with the thrill of 'broing down' with your mates that causes this kind of militant disregard for others around coffee shops and eateries.  But, I figure, maybe, just maybe, if we change our behaviour where we eat after a ride, we're less likely to be abused and nearly killed by the mother of four in a BMW 4x4.

So, yeh, like.  Melbourne Cyclists: listen to Fugazi, don't be a fuckwit.

See ya at the cafe.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Time For Your Mind.

Sure, it's Friday Roundup time, but before I launch into a hefty list of events, I gotta announce that Team Brunswick SOP, pictured above in full party mode, did not completely embarrass themselves last night, and actually, while we did not win, defeated some extremely capable opposition. Ably assisted by equally out-of-form ring-in Gavin Sittampalan, we bent every rule in the book and managed to come home in the money. I'm pretty stoked on that.

The most important current event, however, is Spring Break, which I am now officially on. At the beginning of each set of school holidays I like to write a little list of things that I hope to achieve. Though I know that this list is going to be added to over the next couple of days, all it has on it at the moment are car related things - top up the oil, replace the broken door handle, replace the blown-out speaker. I have no idea how to do any of those things (well, except topping up the oil, which I do know how to do, but am just too lazy to do). If any of you are mechanically minded, hit a brother up. I'm happy to exchange cycling know-how / poorly-written political diatribes / decent chilli.

One notable exception to the squadrons of teachers now making their ways to drinking establishments across town is Jen Jen, who has gallantly offered to take a bunch of kids to China over her Spring Break. I'm kinda pissed at her, in that way that you are pissed at your friend who goes off to do rad stuff but leaves you behind in the process. All term we've caught up on a Friday after school, and now that the term is over I was ready to get a little wild. I may have even had two cups of coffee.

Anyways, on to the events. Saturday night my favourite current Melbourne band Outright are launching their 7inch at the Reverence in Footscray. That sounds like a fucking killer show. They're also playing an all ages at some place in Reservoir the day after. Man, that sums up the band for me - no snobby elitism, playing for the kids in suburban hellholes wherever they are. Bonafide legends.

But hey, if raging hardcore isn't your thing, perhaps you should come check out the VICTORIAN CYCLOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS on Sunday arvo! Sweet baby Jesus, I can't believe this is actually happening. If someone had told me, as I sat by the side of the Hawthorn crit course three years ago, watching the crazy CX race that Matty Bowen set up singlehandedly, that there would be a Victorian CX Champs within five years - where medals can be won and everything - I would've laughed at them, and suggested that there was more chance of a Victorian Footdown Championships. Anyways, like I said last week, Hamish and I will be there blathering on through the microphone, trying to make each other laugh with increasingly esoteric literary references. It will be a totally good time.

And, finally, casting further into the future, the good folks at Dirty Deeds Cyclocross have something spooky planned for you this Halloween. I don't know what just yet, but I did see Blakey asking Jeremy about lasers on Twitter. That's some serious shit right there.

See you next week! Until then...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another Winter's Come And Gone.

Yep, sun out today, and definite warmth in the air. Spring break is upon us - there's only one day left of the school term, which for you means the shopping malls and skateparks will soon be overwhelmed by pubescent teenagers looking for trouble, but for me means two weeks of laying in bed, late nights, long lunches.

At this point, the plan doesn't involve much bike riding, other than to get around town. This is markedly different from tonight, which involves a lot of bike riding. As I mentioned earlier, Northcote are running a teams race at DISC tonight, and - perhaps in an attempt to inflame old rivalries, I told them that Brunswick were going to enter a team. They seemed nonplussed and I began to like the idea. Hurley liked it too, and scheduled some time away from Shepparton. Ollie didn't really like it, but we convinced him regardless. That wasn't a terrible lineup, but we still needed a fourth.

And this is where the fun started. I called around, facebooked folks, followed leads and asked around for phone numbers. People called me with suggestions, apologies, excuses. Work was pretty relaxed and I had some time to spare. As the calls and the messages and the facebooking continued I started to think about what I doing (which, incidentally, most people do before they start doing it). It's a pretty small world, Melbourne Cycling, even at its best and/or worst. I reckon I'd called up about a tenth of it. It went from being an annoying task to feeling pretty rad - these were folks who I wouldn't have ever known with cycling, who would've never turned up to a punk rock show or a vegan potluck, and here I was, asking them for a favour. And a majority of them seemed genuinely bummed that they couldn't help out.

I don't know if I can turn the act of making phone calls into any more of a post than this. I've written enough about community on this blog already. But it's nice to be reminded, sometimes, that the community is there, and that you're a part of it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Believe In Desperate Acts, The Kind That Make You Look Stupid.

I don't have much to say at the moment, because it's been a slow day of teaching, ending with me watching all of Billy Elliot in a darkened room with six bored teenagers. Sometimes these slow days leave you more drained than the chaotic times, as if sitting and staring is somehow more exhausting than directing traffic. So I'll just repost a link to this, which made more sense (and was perhaps funnier) when it was sunny earlier this morning.

I Was A Teenage Anarchist.

It is with trepidation that we here at Heavy Metal Monday sit down to pen (type) this post.  Following our nightly training ride, wherein no training was done, but a lot of shit talking was, it has come to our attention that crit season is approaching.

Some know that criteriums are around the corner from the delicate blossom on the still Winter strangled trees, others know it when they find a hole in the shammy of their longs.  Most of us, on the other hand, can tell the circuit racing we love so much is fast on the way by the reappearance of that strange and elusive creature: the crit specialist.

The crit specialist in truly a sight to behold.  Here you are, having buried yourself on the cold, dead roads that is the road season all winter, when suddenly, these loud and chipper fellows appear, as if from nowhere.  Conversation's between crit specialist range from choice of deep section wheels this season, to what beer they are currently sinking (crit specialists are always sinking beers).  Please note that if you ask a crit specialist what racing they did over winter, you will receive a blank look.  This is not because the crit specialist is embarrassed he did not race over winter, it is because he is not aware that there is any racing over winter.  To the crit specialist, bike racing consists of criteriums, and criteriums only.  The only other racing he will accept is sinking beers, but that happens in the arvo, after criteriums.

As a skinny, gutless roadie, who happens to like crits, I have made it my duty to come to recognise the criterium specialist from afar, so that I can suck his wheel and then win.  Please note that I never win, because I am a skinny, gutless roadie.  It is with pleasure, then, that I put to you the most recognisable characteristics of our beloved crit specialist.  Long may you hold his wheel.

1. Size.  Crit specialists are always, how should we put this, of the larger variety.  They tend to hold to the old training moniker of 'saturated fat for saturated power'.  Witnessing a crit specialist come out of hibernation is akin to witnessing a bear stagger out of an all-you-can-eat diner.  Only they are wearing lycra.  Of course, the crit specialist will get down to 'race weight' by the middle of the season, but don't be fooled.  If he takes you down, you won't get back up.

2.  Cankles.  Crit specialists always have cankles.  This is related, it is assumed by this author/journalist/hack, to the girth issue discussed above.  The crit specialist will attempt to hide the cankle issue by either adhering to the track fashion of very short socks, thereby signalling a distinct fashion faux pas, or the roadie fashion of very high socks, which is perhaps even more obscene, given the total lack of roadie ribs showing through the jersey.

3. Bike creaks.  The crit specialist puts down some serious watts.  This is the guy that, when he inevitably attacks three laps in, you are chewing bar tape just to hold this suckers wheel.  As you manage to sit in, you will hear that rhythmic creak, as this strange specimen lays it all out on the road.  That is his carbon frame/un-torqued crank bolts/bar-stem combo literally groaning under the force of this animal.  As you sit there, wondering how this functioning booze hound is thumping you so hard, despite you training all winter when he was literally knee deep in pies, you will have that creaking to keep you company.  It will haunt you.

4. Can't stop/don't wanna attitude.  The crit specialist stops for no one.  Barely even the finish line.  When in a race, this guy will be the bloke who is yelling from the back of the bunch to 'close that gap' even though you are on the front, literally puking up a lung to get that U17 prodigy to please, you know please, come back.  He is also, it should be noted, the only kind of cyclist who can take on the Beach Road Clam (note:   the Beach Road Clam is a driver who swings their car door open, gets out of their car, realises a bunch is coming at them flat chat, and attempts to fit themselves back into their car, closing the car door, without actually sitting back down in their seat).  Such is the power and girth of the crit specialist, they would knock clear through this car door, then curse the headwind which is, 'arking up a bit at the moment'.  Meanwhile, you the roadie, will be sitting on his wheel, wondering which fucking planet this guy was born on.

5. Laughing in the face of danger.  Face it.  Most of the time in crits, you're shitting yourself.  Nothing says shitstorm more than a scenario where a bunch of amateurs race very fast in tight s trying to cross a line before everyone else.  If you are a normal, sane, human being, each crit race will have at least one moment where you are sure, nay convinced, that you are about to die.  It's just racing.  If you are normal, you will probably yell something like 'woah, hold your line mate!' then discreetly shit yourself. The crit specialist, on the other hand, will merely snort, then tell the offending person to 'pull a fucking turn you cvnt', before he dives into a corner on the inside of the bunch, proverbial, or literal, moustache, billowing in the breeze.  

6. Not winning.  The crit specialist rarely wins.  This is not because, as you the roadies suspect, because of his lifestyle habits off the bike, bur rather because 'all these young kids don't know how to race or show respect'  That is in fact true.  All these young kids are very, very fast, and don't give a shit if some fat bloke with cankles is demanding they respect their elders.

Love or hate them, the re-emergence of the crit specialist signals one thing for sure: crits are coming!  And really, what else are crits, other than a celebration of summer, and riding in the good weather.

Bring on the cankles.