Entries For: October 2007
More new stuff to play with ...
It might seem odd that I've lost my main client (and as such, will be eating boiled rice for a while 'til I find a new one!) and am still collecting bike stuff, but the job at CS I get paid in bike bits, not cash. So what's on the way? The Truvativ Omnium cranks should arrive this week (at last!), after months of waiting, Monza Imports now have them, so I will have them on the T1 Real Soon Now. Just in time maybe for this weekend's BBN track races? If it doesn't rain ...
What else? I've got a 17.5" 2008 Trek Fuel EX 8 on the way. Well, kinda ... it's a demo model for the shop, but I'm paying for it and it'll essentially be mine. We'll have it at the shop as a demonstrator, so you can come to the shop and borrow it, but please don't break it! Trek Aust say it should arrive in Oz around the 20th of Nov, so hopefully we'll have it together in time for our next trip up to Bonnie Doon to do Hurt Hill on the 25th of November. Hopefully ... If anyone from TBA is reading, can this be sent out ASAP! Thankyou! This adds to the aboc stable at Cycle Science, my T1000 road tandem lives there too, and is able to be used as a demonstrator and I'll hire it to you, if you want a ride! Next on the list is a Project One '08 Madone 5.2, but that'll be a while unless I get a good IT client quickly. Lucky I don't own a car ...
The weather for the w'end looks a bit dodgey, but the BoM is, I think, forecasting rain out of hope not any real expectation of real rain. Showers for Sat & Sun .. we'll see .. The regular BBN racing can get washed out, but not my TSSS! aboc has donated $300 to the BBN track race prize pool for rounds that happen on the same weekend as TSSS rounds, but Nicko hasn't put anything up on the BBN website about it despite my regular nagging him to do so. If they don't know, they won't go ... I'm not very happy about this, but I guess it's normal BBN/Nicko inertia. I'll call him today and fire a rocket up his arse I think. That money came out of my pocket (and my pocket isn't very deep!) to help promote the BBN track races and I want to see it used well. so far, it's been wasted. Who knows there's a bigger prize pool this w'end? No-one ...
The climbing camp is drawing close too, the accom is all paid for and I have a freezer full of mince beef, it's about time I sent out an email to the people coming with a reminder etc.
And finally, if you know anyone looking for IT support, part time UNIX sysadmin stuff or Internet hosting, please let me know. aboc doesn't pay for much except aboc's running costs, and I have 4 weeks to find a new client or five or I'm in deep poop! the job at Vivitec winds up on the 1st of December. Help!
Looking for a new job
My day job (one of 4, but the main one, the one that pays my rent) is at a web hosting company, where the owner has had chronic fatigue for the last 18 months, and the writing has been on the wall for some time. Today it got real, the business is closing down, and I have one month more before I have to find a new major client.
So I need a new IT support contract. This isn't the place for me to post a CV though, but over the next few weeks things might get a bit strained (time wise) as I look for more work.
Thankyou all for your patience, in advance.
Round 2 of the TSSS is this Sunday, another run up the 1:20, dead legs at Blackburn and well done to Warny riders
I've been too busy to blog last week, I'm sure everyone's shattered! Go on, you can tell me ... :)
What's been going on? Firstly, we have round 2 of the Trek Summer Sprint Series this coming Sunday. We're hoping we have more riders and nice weather again. Bev's done a great job rounding up volunteers to help out again, thankyou Bev! The week after is the aboc Climbing Camp up at Hotham. Busy? heh ... sorta ...
This morning Vanders and I did another blat up the 1:20, I managed to do it about 30s faster than last week, still dog-slow (24:02) and I have a long way to go before being anywhere near my best (sub 19 mins was my best, at 86kg, when I was an almost-decent B grade flatland roady in '04 and '05). With a focus on sprint power for the next 6 months I don't think I'll ever get below 18 mins, but I'd like to be sub 20 again by the end of this summer. Vanders is finding some legs which is good. If we keep doing it every Monday morning and I get some of these kilos off, it should happen.
Last Saturday at Blackburn I wasn't quite as stupid as I was the week before (Don't do flying 200's in the morning and expect to race in the afternoon. Dumb? Very!), but still I was flat and never in the running for anything. Alan Doran had a great day, winning the B grade scratch and progressive points races, and 4th in the div 1 handicap, Dino rode well, Rob M isn't far off promotion to B grade either, if he keeps riding off the front of C grade anyway. Nath had a last minute call to work so he missed the day's racing.
I found out from Mick Thomas that he won the B grade scratch race at DISC on Thursday, which is awesome! He only just made the jump up from C grade a few weeks back, and to have a win is just brilliant. He'll be A grade at Blackburn, I hope! the rest of us need a chance. Young Will rode well at Blackburn as well, as did Emily Apolito. Now if we can just get them wearing aboc warmup uniforms all will be well.
Some great news from the Warny, Cam Woolcock finished and so did Les Tokolyi. It was a hot day for them, and as usual, water would have been an issue - this year the gap between the first and second feed zones was 130km. Yep ... 130km between refills with no other options for water. Not surprisingly the attrition rate was high, and finishing the Warny is one of the hardest things a cyclist can do, with stuff-all water and high 20's/low 30's with a dry northerly blowing ... urgh. So Cam and Les, top effort! Tom Leaper managed 15th as well as winning the King of the Mountain and second in the sprints. Tom, winning sprint points?! Look out Jamie, Tom's maybe out to avenge last summer's points race loss at the Blackburn club champs?
Not much in the way of surprizes at the World Masters track champs up in Sydney, John Lewis had an off ride for his flying 200 and had to sprint against Keith Oliver, which meant a quick exit for John, but the V-Train (Stuart Vaughan) won his target event and is now a masters world champion pursuiter. Andy White (fyxomatosis) is slowly on the mend and he dropped in to Blackburn last weekend for a look, and yes, he can sleep in a halo brace, but someone might sneak in and swap Campag for Shimano, and see if it changes his dreams. Andy, we're all looking forward to seeing you racing again soon, and maybe you'll be right for later rounds of the Sprint Series?
Anything else? Not a lot, I haven't yet made it to Glenvale this summer, but hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have racing legs on a Sunday morning. I might have a new MTB soon too - maybe in time for our next ride up Hurt Hill in late November ... I'm making as much of an effort as I can to ride everywhere, and encourage everyone I know to do the same. Our spineless governments won't even consider discouraging people from driving cars and wasting electricity, belching carbon into the air and destroying their children's futures, but if we ride more than we drive, we can make a little difference, and that's about all any of us can do. So have a think, every time you plan on going somewhere, ask yourself if you could walk or ride, rather than drive?
Ride on! It's good for everyone.
I'm pondering .. current wisdom says 'have a womens section' in a bike shop, but I'm not sure.
How many of you have noticed that of late (maybe the last 2 years or so?) there's been a big surge in interest in LBS's (local bike shops) in the women's market. Many LBS's are now stocking bikes designed for women (with varying philosophies behind the different designs) and many have a seperate section for womens bikes and seperate sections for women on their websites and so on.
It seems a pretty good idea. Around 50% of the population are female, and there's no reason for women not to ride as much as men, and from my rather limited look at it, in other countries there's a far greater proportion of women cycling than there seems to be here in Melbourne. It seems like a pretty good market to try and tap into and to encourage and even maybe a bit of positive discrimination in some areas to build momentum until it's a bit more self sustaining. I think that in the racing arena positive discrimination re use of resources etc is worthwhile - Lawrence's efforts with the women's intro to track days etc will hopefully pay off with enough women staying around to maintain a critial mass of female riders racing.
So how about bike shops? Should there be a seperate section in a bike shop, or even, a whole seperate shop? At what point does this become patronising or even limiting? Does it at all? I don't know, but something about it makes me a little uneasy. Why?
If you take a look at the majority of the womens specific road and MTB bikes, they're mostly in 'girly' colours. Pale blues, pinks ... because ALL women like pale blue and pink, right? (and for some imaginative reason, almost every manufacturer calls their women's range 'diva', good-o ...) The big difference in roadies and MTB's is a shorter top tube, but with hybrids etc often there's also a lower top tube (which, funnily enough, is great for older riders of both genders, they're a lot easier to get on and off if your flexibility isn't what it was), there's also a significantly smaller range of roadies and MTB's in the womens designs (of course, Trek customers can get Project One bikes, but they cost a premium and are only on the high end bikes, and lag behind the current models a bit ... where's my P1 '08 Madone?! I WANT!).
That's a reflection of demand though, if there was demand, there'd be more range, and if the range was there, maybe there'd be more demand? Chicken, meet egg ...
That's not really the issue though, at least, not what I'm writing about anyway. Women have as much ability to ride as men, apart from at the elite racing level, there's plenty of women who can drop me in a road race, that's for sure! We race together mostly, certainly at amateur club level there's generally no gender separation, and we ride together, so why should we not also shop together? Why should women's bikes be banished to the 'girly section' of a shop? Apart from the fact that WSD bikes aren't necessarily the right fit (all women are not the same shape!), sometimes a WSD bike is a better fit for a male rider (just remove the women's logo etc off it so no-one knows!). By seperating the bikes out, perhaps that creates a barrier, and I'd rather see riders try bikes with an open mind. Trek did this with the '08 Madone's 'performance fit', where the penny dropped that very few riders actually ride a bike that's set up for a euro pro rider, but they all want to look like it, perhaps the same can apply to shorter top tube bikes also. I guess what I'm trying to say, in a roundabout sort of way, is that by seperating out the bikes by gender, do we limit the choices that riders of both gender then have? It may be only a mental barrier, but is that a bad thing? What are the pros and cons of a gender-segregated bike shop?
An eventful Saturday at Blackburn, and a flaying up Hurt Hill
After another poorly attended Race Skills session on Saturday morning (thankyou to Vanders and Dino for coming, I hope what we did was useful), it was time to load up the tow bike with the T1 and bits and do the first of the regular Blackburn track rounds.
It was a bit windy, but although threatening rain, it didn't actually fall, and after a warmup the regular races started. Blackburn decided to interleave the grades, so it was F,A,E,B,D,C. The program for the day, scratch, points, elimination. About 40 riders for the day, so quite a healthy field. C grade in particular was pretty large.
I didn't pay much attention to F grade, but A grade was good to watch, Rowan Geddes was a bit off the boil, but Steve 'the Master' Martin was boiling, attacking and making the race very interesting, and winning in the end.
E raced, next, then it was our turn in B grade. 20 laps. I'm not one to let a race stagnate, and I attacked a few times, let a few gaps open up etc, generally trying to shake the field up. With 10 to go, I'd just been caught and was on the front at the clubrooms end, and I swung up the bank, the woman behind me (I'm sorry, I don't know her name) swung up with me(!), but in the process young Peter Vlahos must have been overlapping her wheel, and he went down (we were moving pretty quickly at the time), and Dino (again!) and Alan Doran had nowhere to go. I heard the first impact and had time to look around to see Alan flying through the air (I think it was Alan!), before we wound down as Doug Reith blew the whistle to stop the race. All three of them were lying on the duckboards or in the mud beside the track. My first concern was Dino, he seemed ok and there was a crowd of helpers making sure everyone was being looked after, so I rolled around to cool down for a lap before pulling off the track.
My mum had made the effort to come along and watch, and I had to assure her that this was an unusual thing to happen (at least at Blackburn, not DISC ...).
Peter had a ride in an ambulance, but we're since informed that he's ok, just a bit shaken up (being winded is a pretty scary experience the first time it happens) and I dare say he'll be a bit further off wheels in future. Dino's trashed another helmet, but apart from jokes about the colour of the inside of his knicks matching the mud on the outside, he's ok. Alan lost a bit of bark but was basically ok also.
After that Dino's daughter Emily was a bit spooked, but managed to gather her wits and go on to win her next two races, and show her dad that not all the Apolito's are crash magnets! Rob Monteath also rode well in C grade, half of C was lifted to B as there was only two of us left after the crash, and Rob dominated the reduced C grade points race, attacking after the first sprint and riding away from the field and staying clear for the remainder. I had a bit of a case of CFB after the crash, and took the points race way too easily, basically letting the main contenders who'd come up from C grade get gaps and then I'd try and chase them down. Not a good race winning strategy at all. Our final race was converted into a mystery distance due to there only being three of us (it was supposed to be an elimination), I think it ended up about a 5 or 6 lap race. Again, I wasn't that interested, I did contest the sprint, but a bit half heartedly, and when the big C grade lad came through with 80m to go I didn't bother to chase. A pretty feeble effort at the end of the day and one that might cost me in aggregate points later on. Not much of a show for the cheer squad I'm afraid, sorry Bev and Mum.
Emily and Rob rode really well though, and that was good to see. Nath'll be back racing in a week or two once his collarbone is healed and I don't expect to see Dino out for long either.
After the show was over I packed up the tow bike and tootled home, before packing to go to Bonnie Doon for the rest of the weekend.
At Bonnie Doon Lucie and I planted some more trees in Trev's paddock, set fire to a nasty weed (a lot of fun!) and then I did a lap up 'Hurt Hill Loop' on the old MTB, which goes from Trev's house on Peppin Point Road, up Sonnberg Drive (Hurt Hill ... 2.63km, 265m gain, and the first 800 is gentle ... It's steep!) and then follow Sonnberg Dve to the crossways on Skyline road and back to Bonnie Doon. It's mostly gravel, and I was pretty slow up the hill (22 mins .. my PB is about 19.30 I think) but it's always good to just get up the damn thing. The loop all up is about 17km and generally takes about an hour.
On Sunday my baby, the Trek Summer Sprint Series kicked off, a slow but successful start - but I wanted to race it, not run it!
Yep, another whinge of sorts! Skip this post if you like.
Many of you who've been reading my blog will know that I've been organising a track match sprint series, the Trek Summer Sprint Series. This is my baby for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a few of the riders I work with wanted to do more match sprinting, and secondly - so do I! Generally there's very little in the way of match sprinting for 'the rest of us'. There isn't all that much for the elite riders either, for that matter. There's lots of sprint events, such as kierens, sprint derby's and so on, but no-one that I'm aware of runs an actual match sprint series with regular match sprinting except at the world cup level. That's no good! I grew up watching match sprinting at the Brisbane Commonweath games and fell in love with match sprinting. Other sports drew me off for years with some success, but now I'm racing bikes it makes sense to eventually end up doing this sort of racing.
I'm of the school of thought that says "If you put your hand up to say you want something, you just put your hand up to be involved in making it happen". So, because I want the series, I have to drive it. I have to prove that it's a viable thing and make it work. No-one else is going to. So after months of politics trying to convince the Blackburn Cycling Club that not only will it be a useful and valuable racing program, but also that it won't damage the current (fragile!) regular summer track season, and then months of organising sponsors (thankyou Trek Australia, in particular Mark Gardner and James Collins, thankyou for your trust and sharing my vision) and donating a lot of aboc and my own personal funds towards infrastructure and a hell of a lot of my time, we have a series. Round 1 was yesterday. Although we had a small turnout of 9 riders (and only 8 raced) the day was a success, we got some very pleasing, positive and constructive feedback and the racing itself was great. Lots of good, close sprints, and everyone competed in the spirit of the sport. Our team of volunteers were great, and you can read about how it all went here. Suffice to say I'm very proud of what our small team achieved. We expect that the attendance will grow as word gets around that it's real and it's worth doing and most importantly, it's a lot of fun! I'm sure Dino and Rob agree, after their B grade aboc smackdown final!
But, I didn't get to race it! Neither did Nathan, who is one of the core riders that I wanted the series to run for. Nath's carrying a mystery injury in his shoulder that we hope will be fixed soon. Nath, get that damn shoulder fixed.
On the bright side, the regular summer track season starts this Saturday, and that I will be doing. No more DISC until next winter, I'm committed to the Blackburn season. DISC is fun, but the racing gets stale with the same program every week and the same (mostly) people and getting to Northcote every Thursday night is a PITA. It's too far to tow my bike and that means having to rely on lifts and favours and I feel bad about that. Not to mention that I've never been exposed to as many crashes and bad injuries as I have seen in one winter at DISC, and while I'm not scared of crashing, I think there's a big gap between rider's fitness and handling skills and their sanity at DISC. DISC is really not suitable, I think, for many of the riders racing there. Be that as it may, maybe next winter we might try and get a cage there to keep bikes and bits and make that side of it at least a bit more convenient. Anyway, it's like racing Glenvale every week. It does get a bit dull. The BBN program is varied and a lot of fun. I'll mix in Glenvale a few times a month, but crits have always been training races for me while chasing longer flat road races. The long, flat races are mostly all gone now. No more Bayles, no more Modella flat ... the only one left is Crib Point, which is a grotty course with a dangerous approach to the finish. I can't get that training race thing out of my head at crits. I just don't care about them all that much. I've won there a few times, and when I've put my mind to it, been quite competitive up to and including in B grade, but ... blah! It's just another crit.
I'm hoping that if the TSSS gains momentum and we get bigger fields and we stress-test and prove the procedures we're using to run it, that next summer I can hand over the race director position to another willing body and race it myself.
By riding a bike instead of driving, we can make a difference
The federal government is cheerfully spending our dollars on electioneering (surprise!), and amongst the workchoices (know where you stand; you're f*%^$d!) bull, they've tried to abrogate themselves of any responsibility for climate change, by pushing responsibility onto the general public. That's fair enough to a certain extent - if Joe Hoon didn't buy a humvee to go shopping in, we'd all be better off, and if the people stuck in gridlock on the Eastern Freeway every morning carpooled it'd be better too, but here's one that they missed -
RIDE A BIKE!
Seriously - every time you need to go somewhere, ask yourself "Do I need to use a car for this trip, or could I walk or ride?". It won't just help reduce your petrol bill and car maintenance etc, it'll help, in a small way, reduce your impact on our atmosphere.
We can, and we have to, make a difference. Howard won't, it takes unpopular and expensive things to make the required structural changes to the way we generate power and burn fuels and control population growth and neither political party with a chance of power will have the courage to say "we're going to tax CO2 out of the sky and please stop having so many kids" because that will cost everyone and the whinging will be politically catastrophic (but not half as bad as the consequences of us continuing on our merry way, relax, Johnny, by the time it matters you'll be dead, so who cares ... Man of steel? Puppet of Bush ...). But if you choose to ride more often, you're making a difference, and it's a heck of a lot more than swapping lightbulbs.
UPDATE This is only funny because it's so true :
One of my photos is in the '08 Avanti catalogue
After yesterday's debarcle chasing hats, when I got home there was a big envelope waiting for me (my copy of GEB also arrived, bedtime reading for the next week or three ...). With my new hat on, I opened it, and it's a couple of '08 Avanti catalogues. I'd been contacted by one of their people a few months ago asking for permission to use a few photos I took at the Bendigo Madison last summer, we did a deal and they bought one of my photos (w00t!). Anyway, it's now gracing their catalogue, if you get hold of one, it's the photo of Brett Aitken opposite their carbon track bike.
Avanti's got quite a few track bikes on offer, which is unusual for a major manufacturer, they do three, one high end carbon and two aluminium alloy. Their new carbon bike looks nice - no idea how it rides of course, but it was being tested at the Bendigo Madison last summer and I got a couple of photos of it in use. I don't know if it's a BT, Bridgestone, Look or Teschner challenger, but that's probably what they're aiming for. It's not on their website yet and most of my BM photos aren't online yet so I can't show it to you. Some of my photos should also be in a Jayco thing I think, but I'm not sure if that happened, I should chase it up.
This arvo, we're trooping off to the BBN velodrome to do some sprint training. Hopefully I've thrown this 'flu off well enough to get some quality work done chasing Pat's motorbike.
I don't generally like to use my blog as a platform for a whinge, but sometimes ....
Background - We're getting sunhats made up for the Trek Summer Sprint Series volunteers as a thankyou for helping to run the races. Rowbust got them done for me. They were finished last week, on Wednesday - but I don't have them yet. Why not? I'm glad you asked ...
They (Rowbust) are in Williamstown - quite a hike from here (Vermont). So, rather than borrow a car and find 3 hours from somewhere to get across town and back, we'll use a courier. That should make things easy, right? I asked Rowbust to deliver the hats to Cycle Science, but they sent them by mistake to my home. That's ok, we all make mistakes ... mistakes are fine, lack of flexibility is not ...
I got home on Thursday night and there's a "Couriers Please" missed delivery card on my porch (lucky! it could have blown away ....). Ok, on Friday morning I call them (CP) asking that the box of hats be sent to Cycle Science (which is ~2.5km away from home) instead of my home. You'd think that would be pretty simple? I would anyway ... "Sorry, against company policy, we have to send it back to the sender".
Ok, I escalate, and take it to the manager, who says "yes, we can send it to Cycle Science, no worries". Good-o. Problem solved ...
Friday night, no hats.
Monday afternoon, still no hats.
Call CP again - "Where is my parcel?". "In the Port Melbourne depot". "Can you send it to CS?". "No". "Why not?" "The driver's already been paid to deliver it to Vermont".
So I want the hats, and I'm prepared to let these geese get away with it, I don't want a fight, I want my hats.
"How much do I have to pay to have it sent to CS?"
"You can't without a prepaid token"
So I can't even pay to have a courier company send me a parcel without having to have some prepaid token thingo.
They call me back, after about 10 minutes, it's not in Port Melbourne! Some "good" news, it's in Blackburn. That's closer ... but I'm on a pushbike, at a client site, and they won't deliver it, I have to go and pick it up from them. At least I wasn't on the road to Port Melb to pick them up. Lucky!
Maybe I should send a courier to pick up the hats?
I don't know if this is similar to the experience anyone has with any other couriers, but "Couriers Please" can get stuffed!
Update We went out to pick them up, and the address was wrong! Found it at last, and now I have the hats.