Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What will they think of next?

This comes from the warped mind of Russ, a workmate of mine, who obviously has too much time on his hands and some strange things goin on in his head! But we knew that already. This just confirms it...

"Specialized has recently patented a new aerodynamic, low drag head system. Dubbed B.A.L.D. or Ballistically-enhanced, Aerodynamic, Low Drag, Specialized have chosen to trial this system on the head of none other than Specialized Boy himself. We believe that this new system will make Specialized Boy even more special and we will love him even more!!"

I think I'm flattered....?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Racing kills racing...

Like a strange form of cannibalism, a major International road race has consumed a local club MTB race on Sunday. Well, I watched the last big mountain stage of the Giro on Saturday night/Sunday morning, thus rendering me too tired/lazy to get out of a warm bed on a cold morning to head out to Killingworth for the HMBA club round 5. This didn't particularly worry me. Tim fron NZ came up for a ride in the arvo, so we hit up Glenrock with Kedan, Ben and Mal. It was a little muddy in places, I didn't think we'd had that much rain over the previous two nights. Apparently it was dry as a bone at Killi. We had a pretty good time though. Scotty and Deano were down in Woolongong for a State XC round, and Deano continued his anger-fueled bike-blitz with a win in his age group. Well done mate, again! Scotty had a solid ride too, he thinks he was 5th in his class... nice one bruvva. And in news from the Central Coast, Nath made his racing debut at Ourimbah, taking 2nd place in the B grade XC... tidy work indeed.
Over the last week I've been weighing up my options as to what bike would be a suitable steed for my type of riding, i.e. XC/enduro/trails. Everyone I ask for an opinion has a different view from the next bloke, which is understandable. But doesn't bloody help! I like the Stumpjumper, but am worried about extra weight and maybe too much travel for XC racing. The Epic carbon has more rear travel (100mm) than my current Epic (90mm), and is plenty light. Just not too sure about carbon for MTB's. Not so much the material, but the look. Yeah, it's all about the looks! So I'm gonna wait it out and see what the '07 models offer. My bike is still a damn fine ride, and does it for me in the looks department.
So now that the Giro has finished, I was able to update the contenders lists and info for the Tour articles for Bicycling Australia Magazine. Basso dominated the race , but can he back up in July and take the big one? Probably. But I think Ullrich will be making him work for it. The Kaiser was just out for training at the Giro, and showed he's not far off form with a win in the TT. And now Vinokourov's team is in drug hell and sponsor-less, will he be able to pull together the remnants to back up his challenge? I'll get back to you in August.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


The stage was set for a great night of sporting entertainment on the box. State of Origin and Giro. Da boys were in da house... Mitch, Scotty, Klink, Tomky, Col, Kedan, Christian, me. We got pizza and the beer was plentiful. We put HG and Roy on the radio and watched the footy and talked about bikes and didn't really get excited about the game until it was over...all the action happened in the last 15 minutes, I think. With an hour to kill before the start of the much-hyped Stage 17, we stuck on the Red Light Go DVD, a cool little doco about the crazy lives of New York bike messengers. Worth checking out, just for the freaks. And then it was time... I'd built this stage up for the boys, relaying to them the course profile, 50km's of climbing, the last climb with 8kms of gravel road, 25% grades, and rain. The images coming thru confirmed it, it was snowing at the finish, the road was steep and sloppy, and we were amped for an epic slog in horrendous conditions. As the stage progressed, we waited for the gravel, and then we see there's 10km to go... the gravel must be soon. Peipoli and Basso are on the front again, must be close to the gravel. Peipoli raises his arms in victory... WHUH? Was that gravel? No? Hmmm.... The helicopter shot goes beyond the finish line, following the road where the race was supposed to finish, up the gravel road. We deduce that the stage has been shortened due to the weather, and you can hear the wind being knocked from everyone's sails as we realise that's it. What an anti-climax! Maybe if Kedan had really spoken fluent Italian, as we had told the others, we might have known what was going on. It was pretty funny getting K-man's 'updates' though..."Hey Keedos, what are they saying now?" "Road's wet", "Almost there", "Gettin tired" would come his imaginative answers. So off the boys trudged, leaving only their souls and a pile of beer bottles and pizza cartons... Hey guys, Friday and Saturdays stages are also supposedly 'epic'... comin over?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Giro on RAI, hold the cheese

It's May, and that can only mean one thing in the road racing Giro d'Italia! Tour of Italy for the road impaired. But if you are relying on mainstream media to keep you informed, far-geddit. Solution: I subscribed to RAI TV on's the Italian channel, of course. And every night, live Giro coverage. Sure, it starts usually too late for me to be awake, and yeah, the commentary is all in Italian, but it's the Giro!
And let me tell ya, it's a wild experience....some of the most bizzare images in between the racing...dogs interspersed with old people set to a backing track of heavy metal... young girls pulling inappropriate faces... and every night, the same strange audio phenomena... the images of the racing resume after a break... the commentators are obviously talking among themselves... they are quiet and sporadic with whatever it is they are saying...and it's not just a minute or two...oh no, I timed it at 6 minutes the other night. Then all of a sudden, "Eh, bongiorno blah blah blah Bettini, blah blah Basso" etc....weird shit. The racing has been top notch, our Robbie picked up a hat trick of stages, Basso has been ruling in the mountains, and lo and behold, who's that pumping the field in the time trial? JAN! Has done SFA the rest of the race, but that's what the plan in shape for July. Has Basso put all his eggs in one basket, and fried em? Has Jan eaten one too many Bratwursts? These and other food related cycling dilemnas will be answered soon...

Another day, another year, another life...

Ok, where the hell have I been? Nowhere... here, there, nowhere. A lot has happened since my last entry, and a lot hasn't happened too. I had a birthday. Another one. Losing count now. Selective memory? I don't recall.
We've been doing a few night rides, damn good fun, except for when you get a flat and have to change a tube in the dark. Or crash off a jump. But damn good fun, eh?
I was asked to write the Tour de France Contenders Guide and Route Overview for Bicycling Australia Magazine, so that took up a fair bit of the 2 weeks I was given to do it. Pretty straightforward to write, ended up with 6000 words, so I'm looking forward to the cheque from that!
And I already had it spent, but my plans were scuppered at the 11th hour when the last 3 of these babies were sold over the weekend. The plan was to get just the frame and a new fork, and sell off the Epic and Recon fork. So I rocked into work this morning ready to take the plunge, and a fax was waiting saying out of stock. It's probably a sign...saying I can't afford it, I don't need the extra travel, blah blah. So I will wait for the 07 stock to come out, but I want one NOW! I think it would be a perfect enduro racing/trail bike, 4.75" in the back, with a 130mm (5") Fox Float XTT 130mm up front. The only other option is the Carbon frame, but over $3000 for a frame is a little steep. Or is it? Hmmmm.....
The Glenrock Trail Alliance is gathering momentum as we plan to take our trail requirements/wishes to the National Parks and Wildlife Service Plan of Management meeting. A GTA gathering was held last night, to try and set an agenda for our dealings with NPWS. About 4o guys showed up, which was better than expected, and a good sign of the support we have and need. Hopefully something good will come out of the P.O.M. and we can save our beloved trails.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Through a glass, darkly

*To see “through a glass”—a mirror—“darkly” is to have an obscure or imperfect vision of reality. The expression comes from the writings of the Apostle Paul; he explains that we do not now see clearly, but at the end of time, we will do so.

After a couple of days of contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that I'm really, extremely disappointed at my DNF in the DirtWorks 100. The results came out today, and not seeing my name there hit home. I know, it's bad luck to get two flats, but I could've taken the tube that Tom offered me, but my mind was defeated by then. But that's what endurance racing is all about, no? Getting to the finish, by hook or by crook. Dragging yourself to the line, no matter how battered the body or bike is. I wish I could have the day over, and I will, next year.
But how about Deano? What a ride from the man... 2nd in Veterans, and an incredible 8th outright! 8th!! Beating home such top riders as Shaun Lewis, Saul Britton, Hugh Stoddart, John Hardwick, Hamish Elliott.... Hats off, Deano! you did the Magnets proud. Also hats off to Scotty, 10th, and Col, 21st in Masters. I was hoping to repeat my top ten (9th) from last year, and maybe I could've, going off those times. But I DIDN'T! I'm looking forward now to Killy 8 hour, in a 2 man singlespeed team with Tomkinson... should be fun, and painful at the same time.
And speaking of Tomky, he hopped his way to a victory at the State Trials round at Lithgow on the weekend... in true Tomky style, I had to wrestle the information out of him at work today. Such a humble hopper!
So now it's time to wait until the next big race, sure there'll be a lot of smaller races in between, both on and off road, but it's the lure of the big day out on the bike that is calling me. As Steve McQueen said in the film 'Le Mans',


Monday, May 08, 2006

Mixed fortunes for Magnets...

I don't know how I feel this morning. I had a great weekend at St Albans for the DirtWorks 100km Classic, even though I DNF'd. We headed down Saturday, Scotty at the helm and Deano and myself as wingmen. Col, Kelly and Andrea were already there, and Andrea had secured a good spot to camp. She does so much of it I guess it comes naturally. Garry and John rolled in soon after, and Camp Magnet was in full swing. A few beers around the fire and some bad jokes and trivia then it was time to sleep, having to be at the start at 6.30. What an ungodly hour to be dressing in thin layers of lycra (well not me, as I forgot to bring my knicks! Luckily I had a pair of baggies with me). As our group rolled out, the feeling in my fingers, toes, face, well everywhere really, departed. It was like a road race as we headed out for about 8km on the tar... Col and Scott and myself were in the front group of about 15, then as the pace was pretty high for this early, I wasn't comfortable and dropped off the back, riding alone until reaching the first big climb of the day, where there were riders strewn out all over the hill, pushing, pulling, dragging themselves and their bikes to the top. I rode the middle section, and made up a bit of ground. At about 30km in I caught Scotty, but no sign of Col who must've been hammering, as we weren't hangin around, passing dozens of riders through the technical, rocky, sandy sections for about 10km. I wondered if I was pushing the pace a little too much, but I felt awesome and well within my limits. As we started to drop down the other side, some hack wouldn't get out of the way through a rocky section, and as he suddenly darted to the left, I hit a huge rock with my rear wheel, and the worst sound in the world of mountain biking filled my ears... hisssss, closely followed by 'F#*K'. As I was running tubeless, I figured the rock must've ripped a hole in the tyre, but in my hasty inspection I couldn't see any damage, so I ripped out the rim strip, getting covered in Slime sealant in the process...I looked like I'd crawled out of a swamp. The tube wasn't poking out of the tyre anywhere, so off I went, riding probably way too hard trying to make up the time I'd lost on Scott. I rode straight through the 50km transition, not bothering to re-fill or eat anything. My front brake rotor had been rubbing for a while, so I checked the wheel and all seemed fine... it still rubbed when I rode though, playing on my mind, making me believe it was slowing me down. There was so much going through my head... was I going too hard? Would I catch Scott and Col? Was I going to go hunger-flat because in 50km I had only eaten one flask of gel, and still had heaps of water left? It didn't matter as it turned out. At km 70 (well 67 something), barrelling down the long descentl into Shepherd's Gully, I hit a nasty rock garden section going full clip and not in any semblance of control, and I heard it again....hisss, F%*K. A walk to the road at the bottom to where the marshalls were, and another rider waiting for the sag wagon. "Big Brett, is that you!" It was Tom, the singlespeeder I had met at this race last year, when we had a sprint finish. Then he kicked my ass at the Highland Fling later in the year. He was missing a fair bit of bark, and had also had 2 punctures while running second in the SS class...hardass! He offered me his front tube, but I was mentally defeated by this stage, and we decided a ride in the ute back to the pub would be a better option. So this morning I feel pretty disappointed that I didn't finish, but I wonder if I would've blown up due my lack of eating and drinking. Probably...the guys said the last 30km were torturous, with the 1km hike-a-bike at 75km particularly nasty. That's where Scott caught Col, who was reportedly incoherent as Scott tried to gee him up. Deano, meanwhile, was carving it up in the Vets class, smashing 200 odd riders bar one to take second place by a matter of seconds. Nice one Deano! That man can ride. Looking at the shattered carcass of Col, and to a lesser extent Scott, and seeing all the riders coming in to the finish made me want to be shattered too, physically though, not mentally. But the beers in the sun with Tom helped ease the pain a little, and I was happy for the other guys. Oh I mustn't forget Andrea, who did the 50km race and finished 5th in her class! Way to go A! Her first race and all.... next year you've gotta do the ton though. And so do I! 70km (OK OK, 67) just doesn't cut it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back on track

Some of my doubts over my fitness for the DirtWorks 100 this weekend were dispelled a little with a good race at the HMBA club round yesterday. I rode with Col from his place to Killy, then did the 4 x 8km lap B Grade race and then back again for a 76km day. Just what I needed. The race went better than expected too, I was never lower than 5th, got up to 2nd on the second lap, then was in a battle with two other guys for the rest of the race. On the last lap I caught 3rd at the bottom of the first climb, and a big effort had him dropped by the top. Almost caught 2nd on the last climb, but in the end I settled for 3rd. Scotty didn't have a great time of it and was a fair way back in 5th or 6th, maybe 7th? The ride back to Col's hurt a fair bit, I was cramping and running on empty food-wise, but the km's were worth it. Thanks to Kelly too for cooking me bacon and eggs for lunch, just what the doctor ordered (Col's a doctor, and he ordered Kelly to cook us some eggs!) Now for a few easy spins this week and hopefully a good ride on Sunday. Mission: hopefully repeat my 9th in class and 30th outright from last year. Failing that, just beat Col... and Scott... and maybe Dean.