Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cycling Games

Many of you will remember the great little film a NYC resident named Casey Neistat made about his encounter with the NYPD who berated and then fined him for not cycling in the bike lane (which was blocked!).

Here it is if you haven’t see it:

Casey also has another little film about running:

I really love this film, I can relate to it. I run sometimes to vary my training but mostly, I cycle, and when I do I play the same sort of games in my head, I’m sure we all do. So I’m going to steal Casey’s idea and transpose it for me, and my cycling.

I love to cycle, to race, to commute, to train, to ride single track in the quiet bush, just me and the dirt and the trees. But before I ride, the games start in my head.

Is the weather ok? What is the wind doing? It's Melbourne, it's always windy. Have I got enough time? Is it worth it? Should I spend more time at home?

Housework. Friends. Fiancée. TV. Those jobs around the house that aren't going to finish themselves. Those unwashed dishes, that un-vacuumed floor.

What do I have to do today? Can I rock up in Lycra? Should I take a change of clothes? Will I be able to grab a shower? Will I be stinky? Can I fit everything I need in my back pockets?

How do I feel? Is my knee ok? Has yesterday's headache gone? That pain in my thigh - what is that? Do I feel strong? Do I feel fast?

Which bike? Is the bike ok? Is it clean, oiled, tight, stiff? Is it 100%?

And then I ride, and the real games begin...

How far will I go? Where will I go? Can I go further, faster, higher than yesterday, than last week, than ever before?

Catch that guy, pass those girls, hold that wheel, give that guy a spell. Roll a turn. Should I stick in this Peloton? That guy's fat - go around him. What's that smell? Man that's bad BO - go around him - quickly!

How fast can I get to work today? Can I beat yesterday's time? Have I got enough water? Have I got enough food? Gels, bars, fruit, nuts, jelly babies. Urrggh! I'm getting a burger after this!

How many kilometre's have I done? How many pedal revolutions have I done? What's my altitude? What's my power output? What's my heart rate? Is it too high? Is it too low?

Damn this rain. Why is the wind blowing? Why is it always a headwind? I hate you wind! I will not let you get to me. It's cold. It's hot. It's early. It's late.
How fast am I going? Can I go faster? Can I hold 35kph? The PRO's do an average of 40kph. How do they do that? Will I ever do that?

What's that bike? What's that jersey? My bike is better than that. That bike is awesome, I want it. My bike sux. No it doesn't.

Is my bike running ok? What's that noise? Why is the chain slipping? Which gear? Watch the road. Watch that pothole!

This hill never ends. This mountain is steep. My legs are screaming. Don't stop now. Just a bit further and I'm at the summit. Don't stop. Shut up legs. SHUT UP LEGS.

What's that car doing? Has she seen me? Are they turning? Where's the indicator? Red light. Green light. Amber - ride faster, I can make it!

It's time to race. Can I get a place today? Can I win? The pace is slow, should I try a breakaway? The pace is high, can I hold this? Should I sit at the back? What if i miss a break? Should I take a turn at the front? What if I crash and burn?

These are the games I play. The thoughts that run around in my head. In the end it all doesn't really matter - as long as I ride.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Random Acts of Snotting

Why do I have to be concerned about being sprayed in the face with bodily fluids when I go riding? More than a few times I've ended up with a face full of snot from the rider in front of me.

So what can I do, not much really I guess. The last guy that sprayed me with his discarded nasal fluid copped a verbal spray and then ate my dust.

But I shouldn't have been showered in snot in the first place!

When you want to blow your nose pull out a tissue from your back pocket - best solution. BUT, I know we all want to be PRO and imitate that thumb to nostril style professional cyclists do so well. I found it actually has a name ‘snot rocket’, go on follow the link and read all about it, if you can stomach it that is.

I also found this blog post that goes into much deeper detail about the causes, origins and idiosyncrasies of the snot rocket. I can’t write that much about it. My weak stomach is turning enough as it is. And here’s a pic of the action, sneakily appropriated from the ‘Mira Mesa Cycling Club Blog’ thanks be to them whoever they are!

So this is my plea – I know we cyclists don’t tend to carry around handkerchiefs, therefore, if you need to blow your nose, first take a look around and most importantly, behind you, and make sure it’s safe to do so. If it’s not safe drop to the back of the pack and ‘snot rocket’ to you hearts content. These suggestions go for spitting too!

We already are embarrassing enough with our loud lycra and our sweat – we don’t need to make things worse by spraying unwanted bodily fluids over each other!

That’s it - my pointers for on-road etiquette that I post here in the hope that we put an end to random acts of snotting.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Have charity events hijacked our sport?

The exponential growth of cycling in Australia has been undeniable. Cycling shops are springing up everywhere, the trails are busier, the club and Cycling Australia races have high levels of participation, and commuting by bike is becoming a recognised form of transport that a large proportion of Australians use daily to get to and from work. In short, more people are cycling more often. Along with this I have noticed the introduction of many new cycling charity rides.

I'm sure you have noticed it too. We've all seen the flyers and the ads online and in cycling magazines. You know the standard tag line: 'Get on your bike, get fit, get active, and raise money for (insert random charity name here)'. I've ridden a few of them in my time and I'm sure you have too.

Now, I'm not against charities and I'm not against public philanthropy for a good cause. In fact I think there needs to be more of it in Australia, we are lagging behind other countries (like the U.S.) in the public philanthropy stakes. There are certain charities close to my heart, and if I see a charity ride in their aid I'll happily fork out the cash.

I just find it hard to ignore the economic aspects of these events.

Essentially these events are money making activities, often not just for the charity. There are many organisations involved (commercial and non-profits) that have financial vested interests in these events; event organisation companies, public bodies and corporate sponsors - they all have a stake in the success or failure of any charity ride, and sometimes we are talking big money.

Some of the rides are even advertised on TV. TV advertising is very expensive, I should know, I work in Marcomms. Organisations do not outlay that sort of money for advertising unless the potential profits are sizable.

So - profits need to big (to ensure the charity is well looked after), plus event coordination costs need to be covered, then there's road-closure and event marshalling costs and advertising costs, and I'm sure there's other costs I am unaware of. All of this ads up and someone has to cover it, corporate sponsorship only goes so far.

Registration fees are where the bulk of the funds come from. Registration fees that cycling enthusiasts pay - to do a ride that, on any other day of the year, they could do for free. And these registration fees aren't cheap. For example, last weekend, you had the choice of four different charity rides. If you were to register for the longest ride option for all four of these events you would be up for $300 in fees. And most of the time there's not a lot in it for the cyclists as these events are not races sanctioned by CA, therefore there are no prizes for placings.

I'm concerned that we as cyclists are being taken advantage of with these sometimes expensive events. Do charities and event organisation companies see cyclists as cash cows? Are the $150 - $200 registration fees really justified? Perhaps they are just trying to cash in on the rapidly burgeoning popularity of our sport?

Don't think I am against raising money for good causes - it's not about that. Personally I think you have to make your own judgement call with these events. Obviously you can't compete in all of them, so you just do the ones that either interest you because of the route, or interest you because you support the charity involved. I think the Amy Gillett Foundation do a fantastic job and I am therefore happy to participate in at least one of their charity rides per year.

This is a phenomenon that is unique to our sport, apart from perhaps running, there are no other sports that feature so heavily in fundraising ventures - this fact in itself inspires debate. What are your thoughts? Comment below.