Monday, September 25, 2006

Cricket season

When I woke up this morning to check on the results frome the mens road race at the Worlds in Salzburg, I made a mental list of who I thought might have taken the rainbow stripes. Boonen, McEwen, Valverde, Vino and 'an outsider' were running through my head.

When the page finally loaded, it was no surprise to see the name Bettini. How could I forget 'Il Grillo' (the cricket')? What a rider! The guy is 5'2" of pure power. Whether it's a bunch gallop, small breakaway or soloing in, the little Italian can do it all, with panache (or sometimes not, just ask Baden Cooke!).

Anyone with gold shoes, helmet and bar tape is alright with me.

Valverde showed he is a class act with 3rd, and my god what a legend in 2nd, the Big EZ! How good would it have been to see him take the win. He's certainly found some life in those old legs lately... now, if only I knew his secret....

A nice little Monday ride.....

After a weekend of no riding due to hot weather and laziness, today I needed to get out on the bike. Too windy for an enjoyable road ride, so it was a quick text to Freemo for a Glenrock MTB mission. His reply sat well with my designs on the ride, "Raced yesterday, need an easy one. Real easy." Now as Freemo is a 7 foot tall A grader (he won the HMBA A Grade Club Chamionship yesterday, well done), his easy is usually my fairly hard. So I thought 'real easy' would be good for me.
Freemo takes a short cut through the scrub trying to catch up to 'the old guy'

Waiting at the Burwood Rd carpark, another rider pulled up and asked if I had a shock pump, which of course I didn't. I mean who carries a fuckin shock pump? This guy looked kinda pretty serious, kitted out in full Australian National Team gear, nice bike and shaved legs. We got chatting and introductions were made. "Brett". "Shaun". "Shaun? Last name?" "Lewis".... "Ahh huh!, thought so" Former National Junior and Under 23 XC champion. 2nd in National XC Champs as a first year senior. World Cup experience.
Lewis at the Worlds 05, training for his Glenrock encounter with 'the old guy'...

Turns out he was here on a short holiday from Adelaide. Suddenly the ride wasn't looking so 'easy'. Freemo turned up and of course the guys knew each other, and off we went to meet up with Crewsy as well (after Freemo had driven my car back to his place to get a pump). The rest of the ride was spent hanging off the back, riding my own pace rather than try to keep up with those lads. They were probably taking it easy by their standards! Shaun's fork stayed inflated for about a km but having about 1 inch of travel didn't seem to affect him too much. If I was 20 years younger, fit and talented, I reckon I would've stomped those guys....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bar-gain hunting

Working in a bike shop has it's benefits, namely cheap parts. But sometimes you've gotta look outside the square. If I didn't get such good staff discounts, Ebay would be my source for cheap bits. I picked up a brand new set of Ritchey Lo Rizer carbon bars last night for 90 bucks! They retail over $250, and I couldn't get em that cheap through work (I'll still get a new stem from there though). No wonder consumers love Ebay, and bike shops are suffering.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Vino vexes Valverde - views Vuelta victory

What a legend is Vino. After missing the Tour because of his team being involved in the doping scandal (he wasn't), the Kazahk powerhouse vindicated his Tour favourtism by taking outLa Vuelta. Like the Giro, the Vuelta features some crazy hard mountains, with super steep gradients and finishes on what look like moonscapes, rather than the resorts the Tour uses. Good to see Zabel take another stage too, the old stager is back. Now it's on to the Worlds, where the two V's will no doubt be in the thick of it again. Gotta love bike racing, drugs or no drugs.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Beers of the last few weeks

No, I'm really not a pisshead! These beers have been consumed over the last three weeks or so, and yeah, I've been a little slack. So here are the latest tipples on special at the local (coz I love a good beer, when it's cheap[er])...

First up we have supposedly "Japan's Finest Beer", Asahi. Now, call me tight if you will, but I baulk a little at paying $70 for a slab of anything, but this was reduced to 60, so I gave it a go. I still felt cheated. Not an offensive brew by any means, but just no get up and go. The bottle is an interesting read though, explaining the brewing process and telling us how good it is supposed to taste. Maybe if they spent more time on actually working on the taste instead of explaining it, it might be worthwhile forking out ridiculous amounts of cash for. 6/10.

Next up we have a local beer for local people. Even though this is Byron Bay Premium Ale, it's largely brewed here in the Hunter by the Blue Tongue brewery. And it's quite a bit better than their own brews. Even though it says ale on the label, it looks and tastes like a lager. Has something that the Japs could use, i.e. flavour! Shared a 6 pack with a lovely lady (lovely because she supplied it!) and it went well with the Thai fare we were devouring. Packs a bit of a kick too. 7.5/10

The TV ads for this beer are better than the beer itself. Not to say that it's bad, just that I enjoy seeing sexy women holding beer bottles in suggestive ways. A nice, crisp, but not very exciting beer, but at forty bucks a slab, why would you bother with lesser beers? 7/10

*These 'reviews' are the opinion of the author, oh right that's me, and don't reflect the views of, oh wait, yes they do...oh I don't know, I'm very, very drunk.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Namin' names

Therer's been a bit of activity over at the Glenrock Trail Alliance forums of late, with the call going out to identify and name some of the trails in the vast network. Some were already in the collective lexicon of most riders, but some new ones have since become accepted and placed on the GPS map that is in circulation. I'm pretty chuffed that a few of my suggestions have been taken on board and will be used for years to come. Those names are:

Twisties n Dip (trail twists and has a dip!)
Jumpin the Gun (trail runs parallel to Gun Club Road and has jumps!)
Shaft (trail has old mineshafts around it, apparently...I've never seen em, but will check it out)
Black Boys (trail has a proliferation of plants of that racism intended)
Cliffhanger (trail runs along a cliff)
Bus Stop (trail starts at a bus stop on Burwood Rd)
Sub Pots (Bus Stop ridden in reverse direction)
Little Borneo (trail runs through thick undergrowth)
Log On/Log Off (trail is frequently covered with logs by angry bushwalker, subsequently removed by angry MTB'ers)
Haggis Hairpin (a trail with a corner built by a Scotsman)
Top Dog/Underdog (2 trails that go high and low from a point where someone has sprayed 'Dogs Out' on a watertank)
Upper Kenny/Lower Kenny (2 sections on the trail known as Kenny Wells Trail)

There's still a heap more trails to be named, and a lot of others have been by other riders.

While I'm dropping names, I got a call last week from Rob Arnold, publisher of Ride Cycling Review, saying he's going to run a story I sent to him about this year's Tour de France. He loved 'The Seven Year Itch', a tale of how Lance Armstrong ruined my love affair with the great race, and how the excitement was re-kindled. It's in the next issue due out in a few weeks.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Helter Skelter Vuelta

The third Grand Tour of the year, La Vuelta d'Espana (Tour of Spain) is underway, with most of the big players on the Pro Tour havin' a crack. In the first week alone the winners list has seen the likes of Bettini, Zabel, Di Luca, Hushovd, Valverde and Vinokourov. Not a bad little line-up right there. I was chuffed to see the Big EZ back with a sprint win, his first in a GT since 03, the guy is all class and isn't scared to go out in public with a mullet on a box head. Vino... what can you say about him? Pure guts. He gets overhauled by Valverde with 100m to go in a mountain stage, then comes out the next day and beats the sprinters! The type of bike rider that doesn't care what race it is, he'll have a go. Would've been great to see him and an uninjured Valverde mixing it up at Le Tour.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bee-er of the wheat

A little beauty from the Matilda Bay Brewing Company, Beez Neez is a wheat beer with a dash of, you guessed it honey, honey. Wheat beers aren't usually my cup of tea (beer?), but this is very tasty. Like their RedBack, but a little sweeter, but not overly so. Not heavy. Very quaffable. Described by Klink as the best beer he's ever tasted, but he said that about James Squire Pilsener and Little Creatures Pale Ale as well... so he's on the money! Definitely one of my favoutites, but I could be wrong, as I was very, very drunk.