Monday, 14 March 2011

Munning about

I went 'Munning about' too today. On roads that used to be familiar but, that in the absence of my two training partners from the North Western suburbs, Casey Munro and Mitch Docker, have become a rare treat indeed.

It was a good ride, and to be honest I don't have much to say about it, apart from the fact that autumn can really be a nice time of year around these parts.

Oh and that this is I think my favourite road name amongst a plethora of odd and often repetitive road names that you find out in Australia.

I actually wanted to photograph this sign a long time ago as the NO THROUGH ROAD sign was dangling at a perfectly dishevelled angle that made for a cool shot. As always though when training alone I was reluctant to stop and get the phone out to capture said image, so I kept leaving it. Then today I was of course so startled to find the sign fixed that I made myself stop and take the picture.

WILD DOG CREEK - it's all in the name.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Well cobble me..

As I may previously have mentioned, I do love this city. I consider myself pretty lucky to spend roughly half my time (and all of my off season time) in Melbourne Australia. It just seems to have it all, and as much as I try to explore the place there always seems to be more to find, do and experience.

Aside from the cafes, the bars, the rooftop cinemas, the laneways and streets that make up my experience of this city, there seems to be so much more to be found. I am a particularly bad explorer when left to my own devices, but I do have a penchant for being led to some great places, and on some interesting journeys.

I happened to be lucky enough recently, to have had the call answered to experience Melbourne.. or Melburn as she is now known, in all it's cobbled glory. In the company of two great explorers - my main man and fellow Glowing Young Ruffian Munners and Andy from the great Fyxomatosis, who joined me for a day of alley bashing along the route of the Melburn Roobaix event that I will one day take part in (see the non-race race calendar).

What a jolly time we had, I have no idea how Andy finds these roads - admittedly some of the harder ones are used every year for the event, but most of the fun it has to be said, is finding your way about the route. Checking for painted arrows on the roads, and turning left at the same time as the guy who knows where he is going.

Here is a rather cool set of pics, that featured on fyxomatosis, of the day.

Thanks Chaps.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

T x >ƒ = V but does V = F?

There are many useless myths that float aimlessly around the cycling world and, to be honest, I kind of like it. It reminds me of the arcane world that cycling used to be, and just how gullible and how much I wanted to be a bike rider, that these little myths could actually dictate my lifestyle and thoughts for so many years.

Even back in my impressionable late teens and early twenties I knew that some of these myths were absolute rubbish, but I’m not going to write a blog busting them all right now. You can work them out for yourselves, that’s where the fun is after all.

There was one myth though, that I will admit, did indeed suck me right in. It was that ever so enticing, and curiously believable equation: Veins = Form.

In my first year on the national team I remember being told by a slightly older (and therefore influential) rider, that Charly Wegelius always knew when he was going well because he could see the veins in his stomach.

Like an idiot, I then spent years looking desperately for veins, in my legs, in my stomach, anywhere. Sitting in hotel rooms in my underpants with the heater on full, waiting in a state of desperate dehydration until that magical form that was going to get me a contract with Mapei would spring forth like a road map from my thighs.

Just like that elusive Mapei contract, those coveted veins never did arrive. No matter how well I actually went I just wouldn’t see a vein. So I gave up the hunt, got my head down and eventually found my way in the cycling world.

Now lately something funny has happened. I have found myself arriving into the new cycling season in possibly the worst form of my life; I can barely get out of my own way at the moment, I struggle in club races and my legs just seem to hurt this is, without wanting to sound too much like a wanker – a bit of a new phenomenon for me.

Seriously not being sure of your form is a nightmare at this time of year. It feels like I’m stuck in that lane of non-moving cars in the middle of the motorway, unable to pull out and get going because the cars are flying by too fast. Desperately searching for the gaps and hovering indecisively over the accelerator just isn’t good. It’s frustrating, and it’s just not fun.

What I am hinting at is that I am acutely aware of my potential inability to make a bike go fast for minimal effort, or if you want to look at it with an alternate perspective – it takes a lot of effort just to make my bike go slowly, and yet, my legs look like this:

Go and ahem… Figure…

Thursday, 3 March 2011

My sentiments exactly.

It seems funny to me how my interest in cycling seems to be receding back into fandom. I have for many years rejected and point blank refused the idea of being a ‘fan’ of cycling.

Part of it, I admit was a need to be ‘cool’, as I was suddenly working alongside the men I had once put pictures of on my wall. Obsessing over the details of races that I wasn’t in – no longer seemed the thing to do.

Another part of it was that these ‘heroes’ I was suddenly rubbing shoulders with would often put me in the ditch, yell at me and anyone around them who they didn’t know and felt the need to intimidate, and generally behave like the arrogant arseholes that they were.

Sometimes it was even worse and they wouldn’t do any of these things, they would just show themselves to be completely normal blokes, something as a fan you can’t get your head around. I mean there must be something special about these guys (they can ride bikes fast, that is it, trust me).

So maybe it is a sign of my changing aspirations as a rider as I enter the twilight of my career, that when I read an article on cyclingnews the other day, I found myself doing so through the eyes of a fan again.

It was an article on Yoann Offredo – I tweeted it, as it was great, a really honest reflection of a young man cutting his teeth in the pro ranks. I liked it, and it got me thinking about how, if I were a fan of cycling, and any team in particular it would have to be Marc Madiot’s FDJ team.

In a world where personality is being sucked out through the PR machine and spat out as gormless corporate spiel, designed to tick boxes for sponsors instead of letting the opinions and thoughts of the actual athletes get out, it is refreshing to read about Madiot’s clan every now and again.

Here is a guy who runs his team the way he wants to, and has done for a while. A guy who claimed to sign Sandy Casar because of how aggressive the constantans in his name made him sound. A guy who openly purported to run a clean team (I think this is an impossible claim) long before it became quite so ‘in-vogue’. A guy who gets genuinely gets excited when his team wins stages of Paris Nice. Also a guy who, despite the pressure, actually stands up for banning race radios.

Now I’m sure Madiot has his faults, I think that Paul Kimmage in particular may feel a little put out by his anti-doping talks after the treatment that he gave Kimmage in A Rough Ride. It was Madiot’s comments after all that landed Bassons in such hot water with Lance Armstrong in 2009. Worst of all he also failed to sign me in 2003; something I’m working on forgiving him for.

Some faults though, in my mind, are good. They can be the spark that sets the flame of debate, disappointment and support. All the things that if I am going to actually become a fan of this sport again, I will really need.