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Random rambings ...


Success at DISC!

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I rode as Wayne Evan's leadout man tonight, and we got results

Nick Bird and Bev Vennix came along to watch the racing tonight, so we had to put on a show to make their trip worthwhile.  The only aboc'ers who made it this week were myself and Wayne Evans.  I offered to ride for Wayne tonight, as a leadout and potentially a chase monkey (fortunatly, not required tonight!).

The scratch race took off fast, but when I got near the front I attacked and stayed off the front for maybe half a lap or so, but it had the desired effect of shaking up the field a little and making everyone work when they didn't expect to.  With two and a bit laps to go the field had bunched right up, time to do my job.  Wayne, get on my wheel!  Bang, I hit the accelerator and jumped off the front and held my speed for about a lap and a half, before fading with half a lap to go, and Wayne sailed past and took the win.  Chalk one up for the team.

Race two, as always in the rather unimaginative Thursday night program, was a 15 lap points race. I was still recovering from the scratch race and didn't really play much of a part, I lead out one sprint, but that was about it. Wayne took third.

Race three is a motorpace, and that was a perfect opportunity to get the leadout spot-on.  With 6 or 7 laps to go I peeled off from behind the bike and Wayne opened up a gap for me to drop in front of him and we're set to go.  With 4 laps I'm second wheel, which wasn't quite ideal, but the kid on the tail of the derney stayed put for 2 laps - perfect!  The bike pulls off with 2 and a half laps to go, the kid slows, no-one wants to work at this stage .... right ... Wayne's set up camp on my wheel and I ramp it up, over the top of the kid, and hammer down for two laps.  With half a lap to go I'm spent and Wayne and some other rider go past, and then I get jostled by one rider who got a bit close, considering by then he was out of contention anyway.  Wayne had left his run a shade too late and got second.  Almost perfect.

A good night ... kept the fans entertained and we got one of each place for the night.  Thanks Wayne for riding well and taking the races, it made my efforts worthwhile.


Equipment reviews?

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Does an 'Equipment review' section belong on this website?

I'm tempted to start a section of this site devoted to equipment reviews.  This is a dangerous area, because a lot of reviews are very poorly written and either biased towards (I bought it, therefore it's good!) or against (I bought it, it had a minor problem, so it's terrible!) the product being reviewed and it's difficult to be objective, especially with things as subjective as bikes.

So, if I was going to put up a section with reviews, I'd want some form of editorial control over it and I would want sensible reviews.


Here's an example - I got a set of Ay-Up headlights this week, here's a basic review (without photos ... they'll come if and when I do this properly) :

AYUP headlights - available from

I've only just put them on my wet weather roady, haven't actually used them yet.  I was most attracted to the handlebar mount, which is the best of any I've seen in terms of not getting in the way. It's a 'bridge' over the stem faceplate/clamp and that's a great idea.  Very clean and unobtrusive. I have my computer on my stem, which does cause an issue with the velcro-on battery but I suspect that's an unusual case.  If your stem is clean and at least 70mm long it should fit beautifully.

The light heads come in a range of colours, so you're in with a reasonable chance of them matching your bike. I chose electric blue to match aboc colours (of course!).

The design choice to make the light and battery easy to remove is a blessing.  It's great for avoiding stuff getting nicked.  You do have to remember to take the bits though, if you're planning (or it just happens!) to be out after dark.

Not having a switch is a pain because to turn the light off, you have to remove the lamps and battery pack, or have a live wire flapping around and a plug and a socket that can get crap in them. I think it can be tucked into the strap, but that's still messy.  I understand the decision, switches are chronically unreliable, but it's still a PITA.  It is easy to remove both, except if you have a populated stem. I might have to hack into my velcro strap so it doesn't foul on my computer mount (Sigma BC1200). If you were trying to set it up at night in the dark you'd need a torch or a decent moonlit night, no
'grope for the switch' here.

I'm very impressed by the construction of the thing, it seems sturdy and robust, and the 2 3w luxeons seem significantly brighter than my old 10w halogen Vistalite (now residing in the 'lend to friends' bucket :) ).  Compared to the "seeing"[1] lights we sell in the LBS, the ayup is great value and I think, a better solution than most I've seen in terms of mounts. I'm going to see if it's possible to sell them through the shop, as they're really good.  My 'roady' kit cost about $240 delivered to my door in a sturdy box from the supplier.

[1] seeing lights - ie: see where you're going, as opposed to 'be
seen' lights, which are generally LED flashers.

My only other suggestion to the makers is to redesign your website, it's a huge flash animation site and thus not good web manners.


No longer a DISC virgin!

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Dino Apolito, Matty Ditchfield & I broke our DISC virginity last night

A healthy mob of aboc riders attended DISC last night to race, Nathan and Matty Ditchfield riding D, Dino, Wayne Evans, Mick Thomas and I riding C.  For a few of us it was our first race on the boards.  Matty had done some laps in the past, Dino & I had done time there at masters training last weekend. 

How'd we go? I'm glad you asked ....

Nath is preparing for a big summer of sprinting, so his riding was really just to gather more track time, and he got plenty working hard in D and looked strong in the motorpace, Matty took some points in the points race by winning the second sprint and finishing well in the final sprint for that race.

Dino, as is often the case, despite depleted legs from a hard ride on Wednesday, rode above himself and finished safely in the bunch for each of his races, Wayne Evans (with sand leaking from his pockets!) claims a contested 2nd in the scratch race and finished right at the pointy end in all his races, and I got dropped from the scratch race, dropped in the points race but chased for 10 laps and got back on to then lead out the bunch to the final sprint, and managed to hold on for most of the motorpace.

The standard's a bit higher than at Blackburn, I'd say the C grade bunch was around half way between B and C at BBN depending on who was at BBN for the races, and D grade looked about the same sort of 'a bit higher than D, but not quite C' pace at BBN.

Overall, for myself and Dino and Matty and Nath, it was a good evening's racing - we were there to gain experience with the track and racing on it, and we all got that, safely and with no problems.  In a few weeks once we've all found our legs there (and don't arrive flattened from a big effort the day before!) I think aboc jerseys will be quite prominant at the pointy end of the races when it matters.




Baw Baw, DISC, around we go ...

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A very bikish weekend

Saturday morning, a good 95km ride from aboc HQ, via Doncaster Rd to the city, Beach Rd to Edithvale and back home via Spingvale Rd.  Along Beach Rd, this muppet in an old red Phonak kit keeps going through red lights.  I'd catch him in E1 (~200 watts was the target power for the ride) and he'd suck wheel, then I'd stop for a red light and he'd just keep on going.  After the third time I had a bit of a 'chat' with this clown.  Expressing to him that red lights are for everyone (he wasn't just ignoring ped crossings, it was intersections too ...) and that he should stop for them.  He told me not to care about him, I told him that what he does affects us all, and then a few insults got thrown around.  The old saying goes "There's an infinite number of idiots and a finite number of bullets". The funniest part was that he told me I should save my energy for riding.  Heh ... funny from someone I was consistanly towing along and catching every time he shot a red, eh?  He pulled off at the Brighton Yacht Club, but later caught me up some rise, but by then I'd had enough and I turned it up for the rest of the ride and dropped him pretty easily.  Idiot ...

After that incident, the rest of the ride was fine.  I saw the hellride coming back through Beaumaris, it was only using 1.5 lanes at that time, unusually 'good' for them.

Got home just in time to head out to take photos of the Baw Baw.  Mistake was to not take the motorbike, the traffic once we got past Noojee meant that I got no photos of A or B grade, but did get some of C, the masters and what was left of the women (maybe 5 of them?) at Winch Corner - 20% pinch on the climb.  I've ridden Baw Baw once (not racing, just Byron & I went out and did it a couple of years ago for 'fun'.  It's the only Hors Category climb in Oz, 6km at an average of 13%.  Gloomy light and my poor skills with a camera meant I didn't get many good shots - certainly not many suitable for, but I did get a good one of Cam Woolcock, but my shot of Les was out of focus.  Drove on up to the top to congratulate Les and Cam on finishing the beast just as it started to rain (rain?  what is this water falling from the sky?).  No snow this year ...

Dino told me later about Emily at the Siemens junior training she went to on Sat arvo.  It started out a bit stressful for her, but at the end she was all smiles and had a great time.  Well done Emily, and thankyou to Nathan for setting her bike up for 'road' use.

Sunday, we (Nathan, Dino & I) were going to head out to DISC to do the masters track training session, while Neil was going to Glenvale to shake up B grade (and by all reports he did - Mal Sawford's report mentions him).  Nath was cooked from a long ride on Saturday so didn't bring his bike(!) but did come along and provide mechanical support.  Thanks for fitting the 90" Nath!  It turned out that Stu Vaughn was away and the session was being run by Liz Randall.  Liz is a masters female world champion and knows DISC pretty well.  Dino and I had the velodrone to ourselves as no-one else showed up, and Liz taught us more about the banking, taking us -way- up the bank and we did some sprint efforts etc.  Thankyou Liz, for me, that was just what I needed to get comfortable with the bank on those corners.  I'm not 100% on them, but at least I know what the bike will do.  My Bontrager Race-Lites hung on just fine, and Dino was using Nath's Vittoria Rubino Pros which also were fine, after his bad experience with Michellin Pro-Race 2's, which are -not- good on steep boards!  We have Veloflex Records on order, will be interesting to see how they go.  It was pretty good having the whole velodrone to ourselves for three hours. I think Nath was regretting not bringing his bike, he could have rolled around and just got more track time, which at DISC I think is very worth having. Next week, Nath!

Dino's got my track kit, this Thursday is my first foray into DISC for racing.  I'm not sure about it, but will give it a go and see how I handle it. Wish me luck!




Westerfolds Park encounters of the edible kind

8:30pm, Vanders & I are going for a night fang through Westerfolds Park on MTB's.  I've got my HID, he's got an array of halogens.  Clearly I have the advantage ....

We spoke of wombats and how one would not like to hit one at any kind of speed.  There's often one or two near the bridge over the Yarra.  Not tonight .. we clean the first few sections of singletrack without incident.

After the bridge we turn left through the sweepers, often a wombat here too .. nope .. through the little dipper, through some tighter stuff, then BANG something low to the ground and black thuds into my bike somewhere around the middle, THUMP it charges into me again (I'm still upright!), and WHACK it hits my front wheel (I think) and I'm lying on the ground, wondering exactly what made a wombat charge into me from the side not once, or even twice, but three times.

Bastard!  Vanders was just behind me, laughing!  Brush off the dust and check for damage between laughs.  I'm ok, a little bruised and dirty around the right shoulder and side, but my front wheel is taco'd.  4km we'd ridden, so it's a 4km walk back to Vander's car.  He scoots off for some more fun while I roll & carry my bike back to the car.  *doh*

They're a protected species, right?  Hrmmm ...



Ionized water, Alkaline water? Snake oil ....

Some fool or fraud keeps sending me adverts for a miracle 'water' that cures all ills .. it's snake oil


Seen any hype about alkaline water?  Ionized water?  Carnegie-Caulfield even have one of these as a sponsor (I'm somewhat saddened that CCCC would accept their money, but that's their call) .. but it's a fraud.  Read here for why.  And also here. Recently, a certain XXXXX XXXXX has been sending me some junk about it, and how it's a miracle cure for just about everything.  In an early reply I asked him if it also cures baldness, impotence and cancer, and he replied that it probably did too ... alarm bells ringing?  They should be.


This was his first unsolicited mail to me :

shonky_fraudster@xx.xx.xx wrote: 
You are receiving this mail because S Fraudster is 
sending feedback about the site administered by you at  The message sent was: 
Dear ABOC check out this wicked new hydration product. I started 
using this about 1 mth ago for hydration and then began to notice my 
cycling and endurance performance improving dramatically. I have been 
a keen committed cyclist for over 20 years and have never seen my 
performance on road and off road improve this much. I go up hills 
easier, I can maintain higher speeds for longer, there seems less 
lactic acid build up when I am riding, I need to pee less....hurrah, 
my legs don't ache the next day, and my sweat causes less neck rashes 
etc. I am very impressed with this product. I would recommend all 
cyclists try it for 3 mths and see how their performance improves. I 
hear on the grapevine that some UK soccer clubs are starting to use 
this. You can also earn a lot of money if you like the product! 
Cyclists will love this once they get their hands on it! How you can 
improve your performance while drinking water Check it out! Kind Regards Cheers Shonky Fraudster


Today, I get this gem (again, unsolicited, and after I'd told this huckster I was in no way interested in his snake oil) :


Carl, This may be of interest to you. As we both know, timing is critical when it comes to getting in first on something brand new.

Check out the message update below I received from our team and click on the link. Or GO HERE -- Would love to know what you think about this new Movie (it's only 5 minutes long) that really brings to light the truth about the water, health drinks, and energy drinks the world is consuming in mass quantity... it's indeed a real eye-opener!


----- Original Message -----

From: 'X2O Movie System Admin'

To:  Shonky
Sent: April 3, 2007
Subject: (Update) New X2O Movie

Hello Shonky Fraudster,

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  • Global consumption of bottled water is increasing an average or 12% annually with no slow down in site.
  • Prevention magazine and the Wall Street Journal have called WATER "The Next Vitamin"
  • World beverage consultants predict bottled water to surpass soft drink sales by 2010.
  • Donald Trump and Rapper 50 cent have started their own line of water products.

We know Xooma is poised for massive growth.

Check out your brand new 5 minute "Water Makes Me Happy" Movie

It's really very informative and will help you explode your business. Plus we are offering some free gifts, including a FREE CD if your visitors check it out over the next 48 hours.


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X2O Movie System Support



This stuff is classic snake oil.  Don't be fooled. It's fraud.




2007-2008 summer track sprint series?

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Who's interested? I need suggestions.

Next summer, I'd like to run a track sprint series.  Rowan Geddes complained to me a few years ago now that if you're a track sprinter, and you're not in the VIS/AIS or otherwise elite level, there's very little in the way of match sprint racing.  It's not unreasonable to expect this to be the case, match sprinting is time consuming and running it in with track carnivals takes too long. 

So, what can we do for Rowan, Nathan Larkin, Richard Grace, and anyone else that wants to do regular match sprinting?  I know there's a lot of Blackburn trackies that would like the chance to do more of it.  Brett Curren and I discussed it and his eyes lit up (as well they should!), and of course Nicko (John Nicholson), as a former world match sprint champion, was interested too. Maybe we can get the old lion out racing again?

Some possibilities :

Once a fortnight over the summer track season, run a 'sprint series' on Sunday afternoons at the BBN velodrome. Round robins rather than eliminations (so everyone gets more chances to race).  Graded, with series aggregate and daily prizes.  Maybe do grading by initial flying 200 times and then promotion/relegation through grades depending on ongoing results.

Once a fortnight run Friday night sprints at Blackburn or one of the other banked velodromes - Packer Park (CCCC) isn't banked enough so it's not a good venue for match sprinting.  I'm not so keen on weeknights, people that work for a living can't often get away from work early enough to make this practical, but it might work?

Any other suggestions?  I want to make this run next summer, and input is much appreciated.

So the summer track season ends

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A pretty good start, I'm happy

Today was the last day of the Blackburn summer 2006-2007 track season, we finished off with a tortourous 40km pointscore as the last event of the club championship, and then a nice short 12 lap B grade scratch race, a handicap, an olympic (team) sprint and finally the 'all in' race.  A pretty hard day at the office. 

The 40km pointscore was driven at a furious (to me anyway ...) tempo every time Tom Leaper got on the front, and it wasn't long 'til I dropped my first lap, but I recovered and got on after being lapped, did some turns a few times and generally got blasted off the back every sprint, after 66 laps I'd blown to bits (and dropped 100 points/5 laps!), time to admit defeat and try and save some beans for races I had a chance in. For the record, Jamie Goddard won it by one point over Tom, and Alan Barnes took a very well earned third.  A grade, Mr Barnes ... it's time and you know it!

A 12 lap scratch race!  B grade was smaller than usual, and Alan Barnes wasn't racing (still blown from the point score I assume), but there was a dark horse, an older bloke I'd not seen before.  I knew Alan Doran wasn't 100% today, so figured he'd try and shake things up early, and he did, but he didn't manage to get enough of a gap to break the field, and it ended up a last lap sprint, I had speed, but bad position, and ended up second with the dark horse taking the win by a few meters in the end. That was my best result in a B grade scratch race, so I was pretty happy with it.  Dino rode exceptionally well in his first B grade race too.

We watched and cheered on big Nath (who is rapidly becoming less big) as he won the D grade scratch race (and also the 2nd div h'cap), and Rich, who rode gallantly in the C grade scratch, but relentless attacks after his efforts in the points race took their toll on him.

The div 1 h'cap saw Jamie and Tom sweep up everyone with 2 to go, and Jamie predictably won it. Dino again rode out of his skin to finish with the main bunch, with Emily cheering him on.  Next summer, Emily ... your turn.

The olympic sprint was the usual painfest, and then an all-in to finish off, by which time there was stuff-all food left at the free bbq!  No-one remembered to feed the entertainment!

Presentations followed for the individual club championship events and I now have some medals to find a home for, I'm pretty well satisfied with this season of racing.  It's been a lot of fun, great intensity training, and being part of some of the lads really hitting their stride has been very rewarding.  Dino, Rich and Nathan in particular have improved so much in so sort a time it's just been fantastic.

Glenvale tomorrow, if my legs work in the morning.  Road season in a few weeks.  There's flat h'caps at Modella this year. Good.


Silver will do ...

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Club champs, HPV, club champs .. sleep!

What a weekend ...
A terse diary would say something like this

rainy morning so slept in because road skills were a washout
rode club champs masters  scratch race, 2nd
rode club champs masters 500 ITT, 3rd
drove to Wonthaggi
rode HPV for 1hr 15 mins
drove back to Melb
Sunday :
club champs masters flying 200, 2nd (qualifier for sprints)
club champs masters match sprint vs Brett Curren - lost
club champs masters match sprint vs Nathan Larkin - won - 3rd overall
club champs 2km pursuit vs Alan Barnes, lost, 2nd overall in pursuit
finished 2nd in masters club championship overall

And that'd be about it.  Even now (midnight on Monday) it seems a blur.  The lads rode like champs - Richard was so unlucky not to beat me in the 500 ITT (0.05s margin, that's just human error), and I was a cunning rat to surprise and hold off Alan Doran and get 2nd in the masters scratch race (Alan Barnes was almost unbeatable, he won everything except the match sprints, the skill and cunning of Brett Curren was all that stopped a Barnes clean sweep). 

The Wonth HPV was a disaster, the chain guard that had been burning a hole in my calf at the test wasn't moved enough, so I had to pedal twisted to one side to try and avoid it, so I bashed my thigh against the steering on both sides and I have a pair of very odd bruises on my quads, after 1 hr and 10 mins the seat popped out of its locating holes and I had to come in early, and when I got out I couldn't walk or sit down due to bruising or some muscle injury in my arse.  My arms are blue from being bashed against the siderails too ....  I let the team down in a big way and was very unhappy, but I was not going to get back in the thing.  Vanders was almost as bashed about by it as I was but he managed to do his 3 hours.  He's a tough nut.  I couldn't do it, I had to lie on my side for the drive back to Melbourne and even now am having to sleep on one side to protect my arse!  I owe Bev a big favour for driving me home that night.

Sunday I was hoping I'd be able to ride, bugger-all sleep and carrying injuries sustained at the HPV, I managed to warm up ok and do an ok time for a flying 200, I think it was a PB, but it was the first one I'd timed on a track bike, so who knows?  Anyway, it was the second fastest of the masters, about 0.2 slower than Alan Barnes, but 0.05s faster than Brett Curren.  So it's a raceoff against Brett to see who gets to race Alan for first.  I know we're (Brett & I) about equal in terms of speed today, so it's going to be a very tactical sprint.  Brett draws the low lane, and so he's got the advantage of control.  I want to get behind him or better, below him so I can start the sprint on my terms, but he keeps me pinned to the fence for two laps, and I don't have the bike handling skill or confidence to get below him without him being able to close down any lane I might have. I throw a couple of dummy dives but he doesn't fall for such amateur moves, and then with a lap to go, we're away and although I manage to get onto his hip, I'm going the long way around the bend and he holds me off and wins safely.  Bugger ... Brett goes on to win 2 out of three against Alan in the final, so that's good. I'm clearly beaten by a smarter and more experienced rider.  It was a good learning experience and gave me lots to think about for next time.

We watch Rich easily win the raceoff for 5th.  He's a sprinter, that's for sure.  Very strong. With a bit more practice, sprint races will be his playground, and I'm sure he and Nath will have a fierce rivalry.

Barry 'Bazza the Wizard' wins the elite sprint over Jamie Goddard, Tom Leiper won the scratch race by a mile on Saturday, essentially turning it into 'everyone chase Tom if you can', reminiscent of Richie England's attacks a few years ago,  while Jamie and THE Master M1 Stevie Martin played out a game for second, I think The Wizard won the elite kilo but am not sure, and Tom toasted everyone in the 4k pursuit.

Nathan's set the 4th fastest time in the masters flying 200's, so we have a raceoff for 3rd.  I've got the low lane, and I'm feeling pretty trashed, I know I can go very early and most likely drop Nathan after a lap, but I'm not sure if I'd blow up,  after the previous day's efforts I'm pretty cooked.  So I keep it slow and gamble on a little more than a one lap sprint.  I keep Nath on the fence, and as we come up to the bell, I jump and get clear, but Nath pulls a pedal.  I sit up and roll around, this is not the right way to win a race. The rules say that I win, but it's not a real win, so I request a rerun and we get one.  Good.  This time I'm even more trashed, and I want the shortest sprint I can get.  I'm low again, and keep Nath high, he doesn't want to be there and keeps surging to try and make me move too far forward so he can drop down behind me.  I suck him down once or twice when he tries to sneak around the back to keep him honest, and as we come past the finish line, just as we start to roll up the bank I jump, hoping that he'll have started to ride up the bank and will be pointing up the hill and I'll get a gap.  I'm not looking back, this is for a medal or nothing, and gun it as hard as I can with what I have left in the tank, and Nath can't come over.  *phew*.

We have a break, then it's 2k pursuit time.  I'm lucky, I guess, I'm seeded second (Alan Doran's not here today and Brett only rode the sprint), so get to get chased by Alan Barnes.  It's only 2km, but I've never done a pursuit before.  I've ridden an 88" gear all season, I'm not going to change it now.  It's like doing the last exam in a 9 exam block at Uni ... just get it over with ... so away we go, and as the pursuit riders will tell you, it hurts like crazy for the last bit - I did my best to pace myself, but in the last lap I felt I had a bit left so I sprinted it (pride wouldn't let me get lapped by Alan!).  I've never had a cramp in a VMO before, unique ... I still managed to get the second fastest time, so I'm pretty sure I finished second overall in the club champs for masters. 

I'm pretty happy with that, it's my first season of track racing and I wasn't taking it at all seriously, as it's mainly been cross-training for winter road.  I was very happy with second in the scratch race, early on in the season in C grade Alan Doran and I were pretty evenly matched, he had the endurance but I had top speed, but later on when we were both in B grade I struggled and he rode really well (and he gave me a lesson in sprint tactics! Always watch and be ready for a jump by an endurance rider, always!), but at this race I managed to control the pace for the last few laps and keep it low enough that I could use my sprint at the end, and although Alan Barnes was too strong, I kept Alan Doran at bay. They were too busy watching each other and I took advantage of that to steal second place.  I think I managed to hold onto second for the masters track aggregate too, but am not sure.  The BBN website isn't exactly up to date with the results and points ... so I can't be sure.

Bring on the road season ... I hope there's a flat Modella handicap this year, that's my favorite hunting ground ... For the hilly races, I'm a domestique for any aboc'ers that show up in my grade until the hills, then I solo home for the lantern rouge, but the long flat races are my playground. Bring it on ....


Flat Naca!

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We testdrive the new HPV from greenspeed for the 2007 Wonthaggi 24 hour

Vanders and I spent an hour or two at the Greenspeed workshop and carpark tonight, getting used to the new HPV that we'll be racing on on the weekend at Wonthaggi.  It's the 24 hour endurance race that gets held there every year.  We last did it (an aboc crew, that is, myself, Neil Robinson and Stu Burnie, photos here) in '05 in the 'Beserk', which was a carbon fiber faired HPV that weighed 32kg and was not very stable.  Very fast and slippery once it got wound up, but around the Wonth course it was a pig. This year Craig van der Valk and I are doing the ride, and we're trying to find one more aboc'er to do it, interested?  Let me know, NOW!

This one, is so much better than the one from '05 it's not even worth comparing.  On the surface it looks low-tech, it's got a corflute fairing which is pretty crude and it's head-out not fully enclosed.  It's under the skin that this beauty rocks.  It's a fully integrated space-frame with the rollcage, intrusion protection etc all part of the chassis, which makes the HPV as light as the rules will allow without serious exotica and very, very stiff.  With a decent amount of track at the front, and around 20 degrees of caster, it's stable in a straight line, and corners like the old cliche', it's on rails.  Having head-out is a big plus, I think, the Wonth course is reasonably slow, so the aero losses are far outweighed by the lack of night problems, fogging, ease of entry and exit at pitstops and so on. The fully enclosed HPVs are bad at night when they fog up, we had to bash the screen out of the '05 one to see where we were going in the end.

Photos from the familiarisation session are here

Note that it has SRM cranks (not exactly cheap ...), that I wound up to 1060 watts in one drag down the carpark. It's not perfect, if you've got small calves and shoulders and quads, it's ace, but if you're a big, fat and lazy sprinter, it's a very tight fit and I found that after about 5 minutes my right calf was rubbed raw against the inner chain guard - Paul Simms (aka Simmsey) is going to fix that, but, and I think I was the only one to find this a problem, my quads rub against the steering arms.  Not an issue at first, but after some time it'll rub through my knicks and eat skin.  Hopefully we can do something, or I'll be wearing two cheap old knicks and hoping that they last for my time in the beast. I can't get at a drink bottle, so that'll limit my shifts to about an hour or 90 mins at the absolute most.  Rain and 21 degrees is forecast for Saturday, so that might not be such an issue.  The last time it was run it was low 30's and drinking was pretty important to keep going.

It's going to be a pretty tough weekend, I've got to coach road skills on Saturday morning, race the Blackburn club champs on Saturday afternoon, jump on chilliwing and get to Wonthaggi to do my 3 hours in the HPV (team of 8, 3 hours per rider), grab some sleep, turn around and come back to do the next day of Blackburn club champs on the Sunday.  Sunday night, I'm having a spa ....


First time on the velodrome for Emily

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On Tuesday, Dino and I got Emily on the track

Dino's daughter, Emily, has been coming to a few track races at Blackburn and cheering her dad on (and watching him win!), and expressed some interest in having a go on a track bike.  After some pondering (she's 11) we thought we'd join her up to Blackburn as a J13 rider and then give her a tootle on the velodrome on Tuesday night when there's no-one there and I can keep the place safe for a complete novice.

All day Tuesday it had been raining on and off (more on, when I'd been riding anyway ... ) but it dried up and at 6 Dino picked me up from aboc HQ and we managed to squeeze my T1 into the back of his car along with his Raceline, and one quite excited and apprehensive young lady.

Once we got to the velodrome Dino took care of putting all the bikes together and Emily and I watched as a Blackburn junior crashed into the grass on the infield.  Emily didn't seem at all disturbed by this (one cool customer) and we went up to the clubrooms to organise her a bike.  Blackburn has a fleet of track bikes that get loaned out to juniors and beginners, they're old steelies that have seen many years of use, but they're pretty well maintained and certainly servicable.  We found the smallest one we could find and we got Emily as comfortable as we could, given that even the smallest bike was still too big for her.

Forms were filled out, Emily was licenced!  Time to ride.  Emily's got a mountainbike I think, and is a pretty confident rider on it, but track bikes? Fixed gear, no brakes, toe overlap ... a very different beast.

We got her on the bike and Dino started her off by push-starting from the side and running along to keep her steady, but in a flash, she was off! Two laps later and we got her to ride beside Dino who caught her.  A great first step.  We progressively gave her more to do on the bike and at the end of the evening, she was happy to start on the handrails in the infield by herself and come on and off the track onto the rail.  We had one little bingle when she got crossed up in the infield and tried to get onto the concrete at a bad angle, but she was straight back up and ready to go without any issues.

I think next summer might well see young Emily shaking up the girls and boys on the velodrome.  She's strong and tough, and has her family to give her plenty of support.


Fame at last ....

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Bendigo Madison photos published on

aboc's fame is multi-faceted.  Here's some photos from the Bendigo Madison, on


Jerseys ... simple, right?

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Except they're not ...

Yesterday I made the trip out to Williamstown to pick up an order of aboc clothes - knicks, jerseys and bib & brace knicks. I get them made by a local company called Rowbust.  They're good people, I like them, and they've been good to work with, local people, paying their staff decent wages, no sweatshop labour and the quality of their work is, I think, excellent. They do small orders and have been quite responsive when I've wanted specials done etc.

They used to be in Collingwood, which was quite convenient.  But, they moved to Williamstown, which is not! I live in Vermont and work in the city and eastern suburbs.

To cut a long story short, I had an order for about $3,000 worth of kit.  Picked it all up and today, sorted it for giving out to people who'd pre-ordered it.  It wasn't 'til I tried mine on that I noticed the pockets on the jerseys are upside down.  Not a huge deal, except that the pockets are not rectangles, they're shaped, and having them upside down makes them pull in at the midriff, and thus, makes the jersey tight around the middle.  Not good for men's jerseys (but, great for girls jerseys ....). I can live with the pattern being upside down, I doubt anyone would notice except me, but the shape change makes the jerseys both uncomfortable and quite unflattering for those of us who aren't skinny around the middle.

I've been waiting 3 months for this order (as has everyone that ordered them!) and I'm going to have to send the jerseys back and wait for them to be redone.  The worrying thing is that this is the second time they've made the same mistake.  My second clothes order with them a couple of years ago had the same problem, and I thought we had it sorted.  Hrm.

Tuff didn't deliver my new track gloves in time either, but I do have the uberflash Easton EC90's on my T1, and will be (rain permitting) using them this arvo at Blackburn.  w00t!


Badge Engineering

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So who really makes the Teschner track bike?

If this Dolan ARC carbon track bike isn't exactly the same bike as this Teschner Track Pro I'll eat my manky old road gloves.
So who really designed it? Does it matter?  Probably not, all reports suggest it's a top frame, but the curious want to know ... Is Teschner rebadging a Dolan?  Given that Teschner's a small time frame builder in Queensland without access to an autoclave who specialised in other materials for a long time ....  Do I have to eat my gloves?!


Club politics, or another reason I started aboc ...

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The Blackburn CC is dragging the chain on a new club website. I'm not amused.

A little background before I vent.  BBN (Blackburn Cycling Club) is the club I'm a member of, and aboc is a sponsor of.  BBN is, whether they admit it or not, heavily biased towards track riders - if you're not a tracky, you're out of the loop. The club fails dismally to communicate with its members.  Newsletters are once every 6 months if at all, the website is moribund since Alan Barnes (who to his credit, worked for a long time on it and it has some good content) got his new job and has lost time and/or interest in maintaining it. One of the reasons I started aboc was to look after riders who were being neglected by the club - the club is happy to have your money and membership and help at events, but unless you're a junior or a tracky, it makes little effort to communicate with you and help you.  Thus, aboc was borne!

One of the pieces of the solution puzzle is a CMS website, one that delegates and simplifies the addition of content and allows the club editorial control.  Just like the aboc site - the aboc site you're reading this on was created as a testbed of Plone, a CMS that fits the clubs needs pretty-much spot-on.

Clubs, being committee run (as they should be), take time to make decisions, but their latest one is a real corker.  Here's my draft letter to the committee after the latest bad decision to come out of the committee :

The BBN committee et al ...

The club faces an ongoing issue, which was clearly identified during strategic planning sessions in the summer of '05-'06.  A core problem the club has is retaining club members, and one of the key factors in this was identified as a lack of communication with club members.
There's not been a newsletter in months, and the club website is moribund.  Alan Barnes, as the current site maintainer, has lost
interest and the site is such that delegating this task to others is not feasible.  Fixing this is now no longer a background task, it is a matter of urgency.

Almost insurmountable barriers exist between club members with information and news and getting that information made available to other club members. If club members don't show up to track races in summer, they don't know anything about what's going on, and that is a clear and identified failure on the part of the club.  We know it's bad, and we need to fix it, and it has been the case for at least as long as I have been a member of Blackburn (some 5 years now).

At the planning meetings last summer, Tabatha Cole suggested that the club investigate the use of a CMS (Content Management system) to replace the current website.  The primary advantage that a CMS presents is the ability to easily add content and to provide editorial control over content in ways that suit the club's policies.

At present, there are two proposed CMS solutions in various stages of readyness for the club to consider.  Both proposed solutions are good, both solutions are suitable for the main aims of a sporting club website, which is that they offer easy addition of content and easy editorial control.  Additionally, both are mature and stable products.  There are technical and political differences between the two, but both are, in their current forms, far superior to the current site and capable of rapid deployment to a service provider site. I know I can get the proposed Plone site online at a professional service provider in a matter of days if given the authority to do so.  While there are healthy differences of opinion between the proponents of both sites, these are on technical and quasi-religious reasons, and should not, in my opinion, influence the decisions made by the club.

I learnt tonight that the club has decided to hire a consultant to determine the club's requirements and to make a recommendation on what CMS is most suitable for the club's use.  This is, in my opinion, an appalling and disgraceful waste of the club's money, and a further setback in terms of time. It will add at least another 6 months to the process and who knows how many thousands of dollars to the cost of the system, which can be done for free, now, with both Magnolia and

As a club sponsor, I am very disappointed that the club has elected to spend precious time and money to hire a consultant when the club has expertise in this field available and willing to present solutions. A consultant will have to spend a lot of time determining the club's requirements and needs, which duplicates the work we did last summer and over the previous winter in evaluating CMS's and building experience with them in real world scenarios.

That is what I have done with Plone, after extensive testing with my own commercial websites. I didn't recommend Plone because I like the default template, I recommended it because it is a very good fit for the club's website requirements both now, and in the foreseeable future. It is not the only good fit, but it is a very good fit, and it is a well supported, stable and
popular CMS, which is used not only be many sporting and volunteer organisations worldwide, but also NASA and the United Nations.

As a club member, I'm surprised and disappointed at the club's lack of respect for the recommendations made to it by both the Plone team (myself and Rowan Geddes) and Magnolia, championed by John Nicholson.  Does the club not think that we did our homework? Is the committee so insecure and indecisive as to not trust its own judgement that it needs a report from an outsider to tell it what it already knows?  We need to fix the website, and we need to fix it now.  We can have a Plone or Magnolia site in place and running in less than 4 weeks, and can expand on what it offers as the demand for such expansion
presents itself.

I urge the club committee to reconsider the decision made to hire a consultant.  I urge the committee to make a decision between Plone and Magnolia and to let us get on with addressing the urgent need to communicate with club members.  While I think that Plone is a superior solution to Magnolia, in either case, I want to be able to contribute content to the site now, not in
another year.




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I join (feebly, and with dishonour) Neil's club of bleeding MTB riders

Tonight, dusk, Westerfolds Park, in the CARPARK I crashed my MTB!  Showing off, I thought I'd ride through a pothole.  Front suspension was still locked out, front wheel goes in hole, bike stops.  I don't.  Right over the handlebars!

That'll learn me to showboat!  Neil would indeed be proud, nice gouge in thigh from pedal I think, no damage to knicks, save for a bit of blood staining (rinsed out now, all good ...).  It's only superficial damage, not enough to warrant a bit of Mefix, but it does sure sting in the shower. 

I did get up the steep hill that I normally have to bail out and walk up though, and recovered from overcooking it into a tight corner with a bit of front wheel sliding(w00t!), so it wasn't a disaster of a ride.

I ordered one of these today, for winter night MTB fangs.  It'll be just like the old days with the old rally car, but cheaper and colder.  Mmmm, cross-training ...


42 degrees, indoors, and I'm scared!

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My first ride at DISC

Myself and a couple of other aboc'ers (Richard Grace & Nathan Larkin) piggybacked onto a Blackburn training session at DISC last night.  I'm not a real tracky, just using track as a bit of cross training and intensity work for road, but wanted to have a look at the place anyway.

First impression (I've seen track racing at Vodafone before, but never from a rider's eye perspective), wow ... that's .. um ... steep.
42 degree angle I think?  And wooden boards .. slippery? 

John Nicholson's advice - don't go slow!  Ok!

So I roll around the flat bottom of the track, looking up, work up a bit of speed and courage, and then pop up onto the track proper.  The first time around the bank I'm up on the blue line, and looking down ... it's a long way down!  I don't think I've been this tense on a bike ever?  Keep pedaling ... hold the line ... relax your hands ... ok ... made it around a lap.  I do a couple more laps up on the blue line, not daring to change lines, now, how do I get off the track?! 

On the flatter straight, I slow the bike as much as I can and drop down onto the duckboards. hoping the concrete surface will give enough grip.  It does, and I survive unscathed.  Back to the pits and relax for a few minutes.  Lucie's taking some photos, Richard is equally wired by the experience.  Nathan seems as cool as can be.

We do a few more laps, and work up a bit of speed, at one point I'm laying off the back of a rolling paceline and keeping my distance from them, HR up into high E2/low E3, and feeling the bike squat down into the banking around the corners.  This is kinda fun, but I'm not game to look around much or change lines just yet.  Next time, I think, my shot nerves are done for today.

We help the pursuit teams with timing and holding for a few of their practice runs, and that's it for the night.

Are we all meant to be friends?

Rambings on a ride to a race

I'm riding to Glenvale on Sunday morning, big tailwind down Springvale Rd, doing around 44km/h down the hill towards Wellington Rd.  There's a rider on the left doing maybe 30?  I scoot past, she's wearing a CCCC jersey, must be on her way to Glenvale too ... cool, if she wants, I guess she can suck some wheel.  My speed is considerably greater than hers, so I don't say anything as i go past, not that I necessarily would, I don't recognise her, just some random roady.

So I'm stopped at the lights at Wellington Rd, and she rolls up, and proceeds to ask me just exactly why I didn't say hello to her.  A little taken aback, I pause, and suggest that I was going a lot faster than her and didn't think to say anything.   She looks unimpressed and rides off when the lights change, sure enough, to Glenvale.

What's with that?  Do I somehow owe her something because we're both on bicycles?  Often I'll say hi to someone on the road if I feel like it, but when I'm going somewhere, and there's a big difference in speed, why would I? and what gives her the right to suggest that I should?

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