Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Otways Classic

A few posts ago I wrote about the crappy jerseys you get when doing a charity/fun ride. Well, I'm happy to report that I just got another, and it's just as crappy as the others! Last Saturday I did the 145km 2XU Great Ocean and Otway Classic. A great ride, through some of Victoria's most spectacular scenery, and I did actually have high hopes for the jersey, it was made by 2XU afterall.

You know 2XU, they make the tights that overpaid footy players are all too often photographed in, despite this, and the fact that their clothes are mostly unaffordable, they do make some quality stuff. But sadly they took the budget option on the compulsory event jerseys and now I'm stuck with another poor quality top - that is kind of ugly. Alright, I'm over it, just had to get that out.

So, the ride. It was great actually. I felt terrible for the first 60 to 70 km's, as we headed toward the Otways National Park and the 'Dean's Marsh' climb. Despite feeling pretty average, I stuck with a lead group and then as we hit the climb my legs woke up and I was off. The climb through the National Park was beautiful, well I think it was anyway, I only stole a few quick glances to the left and right as most of the time my eyes were firmly fixed on my wheel and the road ahead of me.

Half way up we encountered two actors dressed as the iconic El Diablo, a character made famous by the German Didi Senft who, since 1993, has been wearing his red devil costume at the Tour de France and other such classics. This guy is a bit of a legend, according to Wikipedia (is there any better source of factual and trustworthy information - I think not!) he is also an inventor who has created over 100 bicycles. I know cycling can really inspire passion, but this guy takes it to a whole new level!

Descending into Lorne was a real thrill, living in Melbourne I don't get to ride too many hills, or mountains for that matter, so I relish in the opportunity to garner speeds of 75kph for longer than 30secs. Although fun, I realised I pretty much suck at descending - something to work on for sure.

And what can I say about the ride along the Great Ocean Road back to Torquay? Well, not much really. I'm sure the scenery was pretty good but I had entered some sort of 'zone' where I was oblivious to everything except my wheel and the km's dropping away. And then all of a sudden, I was rolling across the finish line and it was over. I clocked up a time of 4:14, which I was pretty happy with! I thought anything around 5hrs would be decent, so this was a surprise.

Definitely gave a confidence boost and stoked my fires to try my luck at some club races during the winter road season.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

You'll never be as cool as...

Bike Messengers. The superheroes of the cycling world. All cyclists try to have their own style and I guess in our own eyes we are pretty cool - but none of us compare to messengers. Not even close, Those guys take it to a whole new level. Especially if they work in an iconic uber-city like London, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris or the centre of the world, in the bike messenger universe, New York.

Don't get it? Don't agree? Just watch this short on 'Squid', the 'Poo-Ma' sponsored bike messenger, the best damn bike messenger in NYC.

He's got it all, the super cool fixie, the fashionably unkempt wardrobe, the perfectly individual nickname, the equally cool and like-minded buddies, the Champion "nothing soft comes out of the Bronx" accent, and best of all - the carefree attitude that gives the big finger to society and says "I don't care that I'm earning just above minimum wage, I ride a bike all day, and I get paid for it, so f*** you!" See, I told you, bike messengers, like Squid, are cool, and you'll never be as cool as Squid. Period.

Cyclists are a fragmented bunch, we identify with one discipline in particular and tend to stick with our own, and sometimes have a rivalry with other sub-groups. Roadies clash with Mountain Bikers, Mountain Bikers clash with Contraption Captains, and Contraption Captains clash with Everyone. But for some reason we all love messengers, It's like they have political immunity, and everyone likes them. They're like the Dutch, everyone loves them, and wants to be their friend - and in doing so, maybe briefly get exposed to the exclusive bike messenger sub-culture.

Not only do we want to be their friend, we want to wear what they wear, carry what they carry, and ride what they ride. We wear our stupid little cycling caps because messengers made them cool, we carry overpriced Crumpler satchels because messengers made them cool and, you guessed it, we ride fixies because messengers made them cool. Hell, fixies are now so cool that the uber-cool hipster sub-culture one day had a meeting and unanimously voted to make the fixie bike their trademark.

So... why? Why have they been elevated to this god like status? Why do you command instant street cred if you, at one time or another, did a stint as a messenger. Well, I don't know, I have no answers, but what I can tell you is a few things to make you feel a little better: 1. Those little cycling caps messengers wear everywhere are stupid, they serve only to sap up sweat underneath your helmet and if you wear one to your local bar I assure you most people are staring at you with pity in their eyes 2. Satchels just don't work, if you ride anything more than 5 km's for your daily commute you'll know that a satchel constantly swinging around your shoulder just pisses you off - a compact backpack is the go, and 3. Fixies are completely impractical - yeah they look cool, but no gears and no brakes just doesn't work if you're going any further than the local pub to sink some longnecks with your equally hirsute hipster buddies.

So, we may not be as cool as Squid, but maybe practical can be cool, maybe there are some cool elements in all types of cycling. Well, any element that doesn't include the lycra. Lycra is necessary... but definitely not cool.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I'm supposed to ride where...?

I just wanted to give a shout out to Yarra City Council for this spectacular piece of road development:

So this is Bridge Road, Richmond, one of the major arterials into Melbourne city, and after months of road works a new surface has been laid (which feels great under my disintegrated Vittoria's), but what were the council workers thinking when they painted the new bike lane in? I mean come on, I know most councilors would like cyclists to be invisible - but we're not - we can't actually ride through parked cars. And if you know Richmond you know that Bridge road has parked cars 24/7.

And while I'm having a go - when is the Main Yarra Trail diversion going to end?! This was only meant to be around for a few months, back in August 2010, but it's still there, in March 2011! Citylink, or the State Government or whoever it is that thought widening the South Eastern freeway would be a great congestion solution is going to start receiving bills from me for all the new tubes I've had to buy from punctures from the Burnley underpass (part of the diversion route)!

Apparently this 1 billion dollar South Eastern freeway widening project has not eased conjestion one iota. I shudder to think how many km's of new bike paths we could have got for 1 billion...

Ok, rant over, I'm done.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Cadel Wins Tirreno-Adriatico

After taking the blue jersey on stage five of this Italian Classic, Cadel had a gutsy win at the finish of the uphill penultimate stage, securing an even tighter grasp on the jersey going into the final 10km time trial stage. Cancellara took out the final stage win for the time trial (as he so often does) and Evans held out to take out the overall GC win. This is a massive effort, it's his first Pro Tour stage race win since 2008 and hopefully it silences some of the haters who constantly winge that Cadel just doesn't have the ghoolies.

In 2009 he had an emphatic win at the world champs and I was in Geelong at the 2010 UCI World Champs and the Cadel I saw there definitely was not lacking in the ghoolie department. This was a tough and long course and he came very close to backing up the 2009 title. Check out the 'true grit' on the face as he storms up Highton's Heartbreak Hill!

Perhaps the only thing that you can take away from Cadel is that half of the worlds best cyclists were, at the same time as the Tirreno-Adriatico, competing on the other side of the Mediterranean, at the Paris-Nice! But come on, a win after being back on the tour after the winter break for only two weeks? That's pretty good. Nothing instills patriotism in me like an Aussie doing well on the UCI Pro Tour.

This win is a pretty bold statement leading up to the TDF, and should make Cadel one of the contenders debated by pundits in the lead up. Can't wait to see how it all pans out.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Enough Already!

So I’m about to embark on another organized ride, the 2XU Great Ocean and Otway Ride 2011 (could they make a longer title?); after registering I am told I will receive yet another promotional jersey to wear on the day. Really? Do I have to? I’m just not one of those guys who parades around his worn out and ripped ‘free’ t-shirt that announces to everyone that he did a triathlon once – a very long time ago. These guys are so proud of them too – it’s like a badge of honour.

Personally, I would love it if you could just elect to not take the jersey and have the cost of it deducted from the entry fee. But I hear you saying “hmm, but aren’t they free?”, “No! Wake up”. I’m sure the cost of these things is worked into the inflated entry fees (this one is $140).

I already have too many. And they are all ugly! Take a look at the last one.

I usually avoid wearing pink or orange – and this jersey had them both!

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the ride. 145kms through some of the most spectacular scenery in Victoria. The Great Ocean Road is something special – and to ride it should be amazing. Trust me, I drove Highway One in California last year, one of the most celebrated drives in the world, and it just didn’t compare!

I’ve got just under three weeks to train – as I head out on Beach Road this weekend maybe I’ll slap on an old ‘round the bay jersey just for the hell of it.