Good one Cycling Australia (sarcasm intended)

I had thought I wouldn’t make it to the Jack Bobridge 1 hour record attempt tonight.  I was aware it was on Cadel’s big weekend and expected to be down at Geelong.  But a late invite from a good mate and a change in program for me meant that I could get there at the last minute; excited to see Jack (hopefully) break the record set by Matthias Brandle (Austria) only a few months ago. He rode a 51.852 kph average following Jens Voigt (Germany) who rode 51.115 kph only one month before.

I didn’t know the exact detail of these times prior to my arrival. I expected such information would be available on scoreboards etc., once I got there.  But alas – zip…

Since starting to race mountain bikes about 7 years ago, I have grumbled about the standard of organisation in road races compared to the usual professionalism of mountain bike events; they are poles apart. The atmosphere, organisation, marketing and general fun associated with mountain bike racing far excels that of road racing. I know this may be a controversial point-of-view but there you go, it is mine.

Tonight, Cycling Australia did not upset my opinion.

They completely stuffed it up; an international event drawing international interest.

Bobridge started just after 7 p.m., with a little bit of hype (appropriate for an Australian event) and a very large cheer off the line (appropriate for an Australian event). So then I start looking for the details… The details, where are they…

  • The current World Record?
  • The holder?
  • The average lap time required?
  • Split-times?
  • Is he on target?
  • Is he off target?
  • How many laps does he need in half and hour?
  • How many in the whole hour?…

Nothing? Oh… hang on… there you go; we get time elapsed in very small print on the scoreboard… fantastic… oh… and there’s a little lap counter down near the start/finish line showing us how many laps he’s done. Grouse.

IMG_1516So my mate and I start our own timing on the iPhone and then start communicating with another mate who is at home on the live stream doing his own calculations. We had a pretty good idea of how he was going then, and our timing indicated he was only just on target for 52 kay or so.

IMG_1517Then at about the 45 minute mark, the scoreboard started to provide a little more info. It told us (and Jack as he rounded each lap) that he was on target to ride a 54.5 kph average.  Cool; he’s going to do it easy. But that can’t be right; our timing can’t be that wrong.

And then the whole scoreboard was turned off… about five minutes after it was showing the 54 kph estimate. “Shit… what have we told Jack!?“, I’m sure they thought (not to mention the audience).

At about this time I’m thinking, “If that’s the official timing, then is that what Jack’s coach has been telling him?”  If so, then it’s not a wonder he slowed a little at times because he’s going to smash the record by minutes.

IMG_1515Who knows if that was the case? I guess we’ll find out but this was the conversation between me and my mate on line (next photo)…

You’re probably thinking, “Surely they couldn’t have made such a grave error; effecting the mindset of the athlete in his drive for the goal?”  Me too!  That’s what I’m thinking. Surely not. I hope not. I really hope they only buggered it up for the audience and that it didn’t cause Jack to change his pace in any way… leading to his ultimate defeat at the behest of the hour.  He rode about the same time as Jens; two world records ago.

Let’s hope we find out. Did Jack think he was on target for 54+ kph? That’s what I’d like to know.

Come on Cycling Australia; this was an international event. It has been, and will continue to be, the subject of further international commentary. I hope – despite the comments of my on line friend – that our international audience was not impacted by a lack of information or and abundance of mis-information. Either is embarrassing.

I have some good friends at Cycling Australia and Cycling Victoria who I’m sure do a great job. They are large organisations with growing profiles. That’s not an excuse for stuffing things up but a reason for getting them right. I hope Australia’s next 1 hour record event is managed a little differently.

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Please come back my old friend

I miss writing.

And I’m lazy.

I titled a ride on Strava the other day, “Words cannot describe how bloody good that was!

Not only did I not bother to actually describe something, I also ended the sentence with an exclamation mark.  My good friends in journalism would be very critical of me (the ones who don’t work at the Herald Sun that is).

I am embarrassed.

Of course words can describe how bloody good that was.  I just have to be bothered thinking about them; and that’s not really very hard.

Sunday to King Lake with the 6am-ers was one of those all encompassing rides. I remember reading this article by Kath Bicknell – When riding is coping – where she passionately discusses the many reasons she has for riding a bike… and boy can she write. Her piece impacted me because of the homogeneous feelings it provoked.  We ride to cope; to get fit, spend time with mates, see the country-side, get us out of bed in the morning, have fun and get from A-B. One thing I know for sure is – if I didn’t ride, I wouldn’t cope.  It’s a mind-saver for me. I do plenty of bizarre thinking (as I describe here) and the time I spend just alone with my thoughts is very important to me.

Sundays ride had it all.  When the alarm pierces the almost freezing air at 5.30am on a Winter morning of 5 degrees, riding is not the preferred first activity. The doona comes to mind… the electric blanket switch… another three hours sleep? But I have never regretted getting out of bed to go for a ride. Conversely, I nearly always regret it when I don’t if it’s contrary to my plans of the night before.

In the case of Sunday, check out what I would have missed –

– and missing this would not have been acceptable. Mates, country-side, fitness, A to B to A again, fun; this ride had it all.  It is truly a blessing to be part of such a fantastic bunch of like-minded blokes.

Like Kath, I ride to cope… if I didn’t ride, I wouldn’t cope.

And fair dinkum, there are so many more reasons to ride apart from the fact that it’s just plain great fun.

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If you can be bothered, here’s the vid from Sunday as well.  If you don’t like the song – sorry… my songs always have to have some relevance and that’s for you to discover. Check out the other videos on my Vimeo channel and you’re sure to find one with a song that excites you.

One pineapple is nowhere near enough

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(Pineapple is Australian slang for a fifty dollar note.  Unless you know that little fact, none of this will really make sense)

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You would think fifty bucks would be enough to take with you on a bit of a mid-week roll. My experience of today proved that not to be the case for a number of reasons.

With two brand new 25mm Contis on the road bike this morning, I felt pretty confident I’d get through the 150+ kays I had planned; particularly the 6 Kay or so of dirt which I didn’t want to attempt on my own with my used super-light Ultremos.

But after successfully negotiating the gravel road, I had a loud and sudden blow-out whilst descending a steep section of Donna at 60 plus.

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I was very happy to keep it upright for the 50 or so metres it took to stop. But that distance on rim and tyre with no tube (front wheel) completely destroyed my tyre and relative new Open Pro rim. The tyre side-wall was full of holes and the rim was ground down in spots to have almost removed the bead-hook.

There were many holes in the tyre big enough for the tube to bulge so I pulled out the funds to implement the old fix it with a note trick; only thing was, I needed 10x$5s rather than just the one pineapple I’d thrown in at home.

So 40 pounds of pressure let me safely (and slowly) descend to Cogs in Warburton where Damian had one road tyre for 55 bucks! Luckily I was able to talk him down and will re-visit Cogs at the first opportunity to give him 5 bucks and grab a coffee (which I couldn’t afford on this occasion).

I decided to take the risk with my trashed rim and continue my planned route; I was only 50 into 160k.  I took no food and planned to refuel at the Marysville Bakery… but no pineapple!

(Here’s my route) – hence my distress!

The Black Spur; although beautiful, was a haze of delirium as I struggled through it with about my fourth hunger flat this season.

So here’s the thing; take 10x5s rather than 1×50… and take a credit card.  You never know what might happen.

I love social media

I have often thought I’d like to write something about my take on social media.  It’s been a matter of finding good context and putting it into the right words.

Oddly, my context has come from a slightly negative angle rather than my generally positive opinion; I love social media!  I think it’s one of the best things since the invention of the bicycle wheel.  But bloody Strava – fucking with 6am-er tradition!  What a disgrace.  (Sorry mum, Aunty Jan, Aunty Tracey, Uncle Brian, Deb Perry and my respected father-in-law Stuart but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate and descriptive word… sad I know).  More on that later.

Everyone has an opinion on social media; the ones who hate it voice theirs the loudest.

“I don’t have time for Facebook.  I’ve got better things to do with my life.”  Maybe watch a bit of Big Brother or catch up on your reading of the Herald Sun.

“How can you ever find the time to twot, twit, whatever it is?” – like they really don’t actually remember that the correct word is to tweet and you do it on Twitter; that would be far too uncool.  And it doesn’t take up that much time by the way.

“I really don’t want to know when one of my ‘friends’ (or ‘acquaintances ‘ because they’re not really ‘friends’ are they, haw, haw) goes to the toilet!” – I’ve actually never had one of my Facebook friends provide a status update telling me they’re on the toilet so I don’t really get where this one comes from.  It’s very popular though.

“I don’t want the whole world knowing what I’m having for dinner.” – don’t tell them then.  Use your wit or simply shut-up.

So here’s some of my take.

I don’t particularly like knowing if my friends are on the toilet (luckily they never tell me); I don’t care what their coffee or lunch looks like and I don’t enjoy being updated on what I would find quite boring even if I was there live (like cricket, Formula 1 or football).  But I’m the one who holds the power over what I see.  I choose my ‘friends’ (many of whom… surprise!… are not real friends… they’re Facebook friends and that’s quite different… just bloody-well accept that would you? I do!) and I choose what I spend my time absorbing, reading or watching.

I follow relatively few on Twitter because I’m not big on clutter.  I like being updated on very specific things and again, I’m the one who holds the power.  For me most of it is cycling. Oh, and I also follow God – whom I love…

“I’m your dope-ass divinity, trollin’ with My trinity, tossin’ top tweets in your immediate vicinity, flingin’ fly phrases from the fringes of infinity.”  (God’s tag)

He’s a very funny man apart from what he did to Job.  I never really liked that.

And Strava!  What a ripper that is.  An incredible way to stay in touch with your riding mates; to see what they’re up to and to keep a good track on your own training.  But that too comes with it’s fair share of naysayers.  On a recent ride when someone in the bunch mentioned the word ‘Strava’ they were quickly put in a box by a lady nearby who exclaimed that, “no Strava or segment talk is allowed on this ride”.  Really?  I must have missed that memo.  Actually… I must have missed that note on some other form of social media because that is how we all came to be here.  FGS! (different God… not the one above).

I believe there is an unjustified momentum against social media and I believe that in many cases, that’s where these attitudes come from.  I find it very curious to observe.

There are some amazing advantages to social media, Facebook in particular, which I would never have in any other forum.  Mostly it’s the relationships I now have with many people with whom I would not otherwise have had contact.  There are people from my graduating squad, old friends from school or church and relatives living on the other side of the world with whom, because of Facebook, I enjoy occasional contact and frequent updates on their lives and families.  It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch with these kinds of acquaintances.

As a child I grew up with my best friend Marco until we were teenagers.  He died in an industrial accident many years ago and I often think of him and his family.  Two years ago his sister contacted me on Facebook and I now enjoy a relationship with her and their mum.  Relationships which are very infrequent but where we understand the loss of someone who was close to each of us on different levels.  Nothing more expected.

My sort-of Aunty Tracey married my Uncle Brian 12 years ago.  I’ve never met her.   But she’s now my ‘friend’ on Facebook and I enjoy a relationship of sorts where we’re both able to stay in touch with an element of family that we otherwise would not.

My real Aunty Jan in Omeo follows my life and provides the fantastic feedback a nephew needs on how cute his kids are and how exciting a life he leads.  😉     I would be lucky to see Aunty Jan every five years if it wasn’t for Facebook.

My friend Ash works for the UN and travels the world working on food relief programs and such.  I’ve lived life vicariously through him for years!  If not for Facebook I wouldn’t know where he is or what he’s doing… and I like knowing that with Ash.

These little relationships simply add a bit more spice to my life.  I enjoy the knowledge of what people are up to even if it is the occasional picture of a cappuccino.  And I certainly wouldn’t have the benefit of these relationships without Facebook, not to mention my extremely important cycling social life and the Facebook hub that is Bright Cyclists.

Oh yeah!.. cycling.  Bloody Strava and the whole reason for gaining my context; some of which is around my passion for cycling and for being a 6am-er, as well as a passion for 6am-er tradition.

On last Sunday’s 6am-er ride our first climb was Devils Elbow to One Tree Hill (Tremont). I’ve done it 40-50 times in the 10 or so years I’ve been a 6am-er.  It’s a stalwart climb to the top at the corner of Churchill Drive and One Tree Hill Road.  But I get there on Sunday – about fourth from last with at least 8 in front of me – and there’s nobody there.  Nobody! I turn anyway, as is 6am-er tradition, to loop back and meet the last couple of riders and accompany them to the top.  We continued another kay up the road to find the group lazing on their frames awaiting our arrival.  Sheeesh… looping back on the climbs (<10%) is something written in 6am-er law.  It’s a golden rule.  It’s like the constitution!… sorry, I’ll shut-up. Point made.

The social media point though?  I’m told the top of the climb has now changed, “because the Strava segment finishes up here.”  The what!?  “The Strava segment finishes up here.”  WTF!

So Strava now dictates the top of the 6am-er climbs.  Strava, which has been around for two years, now tells the 6am-ers, who have been around for 15, where they finish their climbs?

Social media?  It’s a shit of a thing.

Boys – here’s a new segment I created for you.  It finishes at the corner of Churchill Avenue and One Tree Hill Road.  😉

The 6am-er top of the Devils Elbow/One Tree Hill Climb

And when you get there, turn around and come and get the tail.

Bloody ripper ride though.  Here’s the vid…

Brilliant Bright riding – Alpine Classic and Gravity 12 hr

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Team Cyclepath – Rich, Brendon, Shannon

I know I don’t fit the criteria for a local – but I am so very proud to be part of the Bright community.  A better bunch of people would be hard to find, if you could even be bothered looking.  Thanks all my Bright friends for accepting me as a friend and cycling companion.  I love youse all… sob, sob…

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As I sit again on my Porepunkah veranda, I’m contemplating the sad fact that this will probably be my last day in the north east for this summer. I’ve done a pretty good job of dragging it out but the end, for now, is nigh.

photo (1)Yesterday was the Bright Gravity 12 hour mountain bike race.  After my second year as a member of Team Cyclepath I’m convinced this is my favourite endurance mountain bike race.  It’s got everything, and the social media following the race attests to the fact that most participants are of the same view.

    • Challenging trail
    • Fast trail
    • Brilliant weather
    • Best transition area known to man
    • Not too much climbing (nice for a big bloke!)
    • …… ROGER’s!!!  (and I thought about him every lap)
    • Everything
    • Grouse

The thing about the community feel of this race though comes out of the individual stories everyone has to tell about their own challenge.  Sure, there were some fantastic results on paper

photo (1)Brendon and I came second in the male pairs (results here), Waz and Deb first in the mixed pairs, Mr and Mrs J (Craig and Jo Junor) smashed out 12 laps for third in the mixed pairs, Chris Meyland third male solo, Brett Kellet’s triple came second overall and first in male triples.  Jack’s under 14 team missed out on third junior team by 8 seconds!… bugger (and Jack reckons he stopped for a break in his last lap for, “about 8 seconds dad!”).  Fiona Reddaway and Anne Heeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooperman’s team of four (that’s how Jack says it) stood on top of the podium and Carol’s team of Three Dirty Girls came third in the triples.  Brilliant.

– but it’s some of the other rides which really impress me.  Gus Gollings trying to race after fasting… go figure.  Dave Parmo riding solo for the full 12 hours with bugger-all training.  Nick Vlahandreus and Gordon Sutherland both pushed out 12 laps (I think)… on their own – slogging it out all day long.  Clearly their average lap times were therefore about an hour a piece which on this course is an absolutely awesome effort (Gordo could have smashed out one more but went a bit soft on completion of his 12th lap at 7.55 p.m.).  My mate Mick Ritchie would have won the over 50 solo category if there was one!… but the really impressive thing about his ride was that he did it with his wrist strapped up having broken it (in a MTB crash) a few weeks ago.

And there were many others who competed and rode in adult and kids teams who challenged themselves on all sorts of levels all day.  Not to mention our trusty team mechanic – Shannon Dean – who kept Brendon and I going constantly despite broken bikes, ripped tyres and tonnes and tonnes of DUST!  (Yes… I’ve broken another Anthem).

Heroics is overstating it I know… but the individual efforts of everyone were just amazing.

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Alpine Classic Group at Tawonga South – fog and cold to come atop Falls Creek

So it’s been two fantastic weekends of cycling in Bright with the Alpine Classic last Sunday, where 20 of us headed out on the traditional 200km route over to Falls, then this weekend with a brilliant Gravity 12 hr.

It simply doesn’t get any better than this.

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Just thinkin’… In one of my favourite places on earth

Porepunkah veranda - thunder all aroundIt’s 9 a.m. and I’m sitting on the verandah in Porepunkah.   My view is a little misty; it’s cool, there is still water falling from the trees and the thunder is tremendous.  Since very early in the morning the storms have been rolling through the north east with significant fanfair.  I can’t help wondering if the associated lightening has kicked off some more fires.  Let’s hope, if it has, that those hard-working fire-fighters have been able to act quickly and get things under control.

Bright radar capture 26 Jan - 0912hrs.bmpIronically, the activity of these storms is as likely to have started a fire on Mt. Buffalo as it has at Falls Creek or Mt. Hotham.  For the sake of holiday makers, emergency services and people who want to ride their bikes… let’s hope the storms have passed with just a lot of hoo-haa and some nice cool rain over the fire-ground at Feathertop.  There’s no messages coming from the CFA at this point but I know for sure that local people have been called out overnight to respond.

Fingers crossed anyway.  A gorgeous cool day in Bright – perfect for cycling – is on the way.

Despite many people being sucked in by media reports and cancelling their accomodation, the town is buzzing.  There are bikes everywhere and the ice-cream shop last night, as always on this weekend, was more like a sardine shop if you simply take into account the crowd.  The licorice was excellent but the frozen pieces have now become responsible for my broken tooth… bloody hell – I’m getting old!

When I say sucked in by media reports I mean instances such as this…  Out the front of the community meeting in Bright two days ago, I heard a reporter interviewing a lady who lives in the township.  Her question – asked with the appropriate level of vigour and intensity – was, “And can you tell me if your house is under threat?  What are you going to do?”  I felt like jumping on myself to point out that, “We’re in Bright.  There is absolutely no fire threat here.  The lady lives in the town…” – but of course that wouldn’t have been a very good story.  The fire chief had just mentioned to all in attendance that, “There is no threat to Bright.  Life in Bright will go on as normal.”  I’m sure that wouldn’t have made the news either.

I know… I’m tainted.

So tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading out from Cyclepath in Bright with a group of riders; on a cool day with morning showers (according to the forecast) to ride one of my favourite rides on earth; Falls and return with a bonus climb up Buffalo.  I’m sure we’ll be fire-free and if we have to (just to assure those worriers out there) we’ll give plenty of latitude to the fire-trucks.

The last couple of days of north east bliss before I return to manage my own emergencies.  ; )