Wednesday, 23 May 2012

It's Giro Time!

For me, this year, the Giro has seemed quite tame. Yes, there have been some great breakaways, some spectacular sprint finishes and some gruelling mountain ascents, but there is something lacking. Compared to the drama of last year’s edition, any tour would seem tame, but for me, this edition has definitely been impacted by the lack of the really big names.

I love watching cycling races where all the big names are there, when everyone is racing to their full capacity, and the one that wins can truly call themselves the best. Unfortunately, because of the way the Pro Tour is set up, the winner of the Giro wont be able to say this. Everyone knows that the race would play out very differently if Andy Schleck was there, or Evans, Sanchez, Van Den Broeck, Wiggins, Nibali, or even Cobo.

The cycling diehards out there will tell me that this is the way it’s always been, and that no true Tour de France GC contender would dare taking a chance on the Giro, in fear of burning themselves out. I know this and I get it. I’m just saying that for the spectator, some of the thrill is lost when the big names are absent.   

I suppose this is one of the reasons why the Tour de France is the biggest race in the world – it attracts the best of the best.

Anyhow, we are now at the pointy end of the race. Cavendish has once again asserted his dominance and taken three stages (and possibly a forth tonight). I was ecstatic to see Gossy pick up a stage win, edging out some of the best sprinters in the world to claim the first Giro stage win for Green Edge. Current race leader, Rodriguez, has taken two dominating stage wins and we’ve seen some brilliant solo victories (in particular from Amador and Rabottini). Taylor Phinney’s domination of the stage one ITT was also a huge highlight, 8.7km’s in 10 minutes and 26 seconds – that’s an average speed of over 50 kmph!

Tonight we should see Cav take his fourth stage win on a relatively flat and short stage 18, and confirm his hold on the green jersey. We will then see the main protagonists of the GC fight it out in the ridiculously hard mountain stages 19 and 20. I never thought he would be able to do it again, but Basso is looking really strong and is a good chance to take his third Giro. Scarponi and Rodriguez are strong chances as well – though they will need to attack fiercely to take some time gaps that will see them safely through the final time trial.

My money? Well that’s on Hesjedal. The big Canadian has a fire in his eyes that screams of his desire to take the overall win. If he can minimise his losses in the next few days he should be able to take the win in the final time trial.  

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The five stages of grief - what happens when your bikes are stolen

Facebook can be a great thing sometimes. On Friday night I posted this to my news feed, “Just had both my bikes stolen. Thousands of $'s gone. Thanks a lot junkie scumbag commission housing neighbours...” Feeling sad and angry and a bit sorry for myself, I put down the IPad and went to bed and tried to forget the fact that I’d woken last Friday morning to find two of my bikes stolen. The following day, to my surprise, I checked out Facebook and found some messages of condolence for my loss! Some friends had felt my pain and their sympathy somehow made it a little bit better.

Ok, I may have been a bit presumptuous in accusing my financially and socially disadvantaged neighbours, but I needed to let out my anger somehow about the situation. They were MY bikes, I rode them, I worked on them, I cleaned them and most importantly, I PAID for them. These lowlifes had stolen my livelihood.

I wanted to storm the commission block, smashing in door after door until I found them, or spray paint the ugly orange bricks of their hideous 1970’s buildings with the words “GIVE ME MY BIKES BACK YOU JUNKIES”, but I quite like my life, and let’s face it, either of these two acts would have put it in serious danger.

So, Facebook it was – that was my outlet. And it helped. Thanks Facebook, and thanks social media; maybe the Invisible Children are right, maybe those generation Z’ers with their hip 80’s inspired haircuts will find Kony and start a revolution!

Anyhow, I digress. My bikes were a huge part of my life, a huge part of me, like an extension of me somehow. Kind of like a third arm I guess. And they had just taken my arm! Like those that have lost loved ones, and I’m guessing those that have lost arms also, I have since gone through the various stages of grief. There are five I think: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial was fleeting, but it was definitely there. As I stood looking at the empty space where they used to sit I couldn’t believe they were gone, perhaps I’d left them somewhere, or moved them, or sold them? I have been selling a lot of stuff on Ebay lately, it has gotten quite addictive. In a flurry of frenzied Ebay selling, had I flipped my bikes for a tidy profit?

No, I’d not left them anywhere and there was no Ebay sale, a visit to the police station had promptly brought me back to earth.

Later that day I moved to the second stage – anger. Sitting at my desk, fuming, my blood started to boil as I went through all the scenarios in my head about how it had happened, who had taken them and what will become of them. These lowlifes had taken something that didn’t belong to them. They didn’t earn these bikes. They hadn’t worked hard for them. How can someone do this? It made me so angry. And so, in my fit of bottled up rage I did what any self-respecting Aussie male does when truly pissed off – I went got a beer with some mates!  

Right now I’m experiencing a mixture of bargaining and depression. My head swirls around – going back and forth between the two. I bargain with myself, somehow trying to turn this negative into a positive, thinking things like “maybe the insurance company will come through… and if they do, maybe I could use this as an opportunity to upgrade!”

But no matter how I spin it in my head, the huge financial loss is clear as day and that brings me back around to depression, which manifests itself as something like a small child who has dropped their ice cream. Picture the little asian girl in the Hollywood classic ‘The Goonies’ who gets her bike stolen by teen heartthrob Brand…. Yep, that’s me, a little girl, stomping on the floor, yelling “I want my bike, I want my bike.” 

I’m not quite at acceptance yet but I’ll get there eventually…. I hope. I usually get over things by getting thoughts down in words, so yes, you are reading my own version of therapy! A few more angry letters to the police and the body corporate and I’ll be right as rain!

Oh – and yeah, if you see these two bikes anywhere around, please contact me!

Ghost Lector 5800 - A beast of a bike, it will be sorely missed

My trusty workhorse, Fuji Roubaix 1.0 with significant upgrades. Farewell.