Monday, February 28, 2011

After-Life

Whilst walking around Thaliand markets, we stumbled across an interesting shop. Everything inside was made of cardboard. They had wads of fake money, scaled down cardboard Mercedes Benz, cardboard suits, mobile phones and pretty much most physical possessions that you can think of. I thought it was some sort of novelty toy shop. Cardboard and paper toys that you could give to kids. As it turns out, I was extremely wrong.




As I was informed, it is all part of a Chinese funeral tradition. After a funeral, the Chinese find comfort from burning paper. Chinese believe that by burning paper they are providing material goods for the dead. Family members purchase paper replicas of money, a house, cattle, cars or anything that they want their loved ones to have in the after-life. By writing the name of the deceased on these items before burning them, Chinese believe the correct person then receives these items.

I started to wonder what my friends would burn for me to have in the after life??? What do my friends think I would want in the after life? Sadly, I couldn't find a paper bicycle.

Things to do...

With my time in australia and hence brisbane, coming to an end, there are a few things that I want to do before I no longer have the opportunity to do so. So I made a list.

1. Go to the beach... After looking at the weather for Switzerland (and given it's location) I doubt I will be able to get to a sunny beach for some time.


2. Visit some of my preferred restaurants in Brisbane... Some of these were unfortunately closed due to flood damage, however, my list includes Avanti in Bardon, Villa Maria in Coorparoo and my favorite local, Renu Thai in Toowong.

3. Do some of my favorite rides... Mt tambourine. Mt nebo. Mt Cotton/Ford Rd. And Mt Crosby. Unfortunately, I attempted Mt Crosby last week and was cut off by some flood water being released from upstream.


4. This goes against everything I believe in but; go on the Brisbane eye... It's cheesy and touristy, so why not. This will be shuffled to the back of the list though.

5. Check out some of the smaller places and restaurants in the city... Thanks to my new dependence on public transport this has not been difficult as it is the easiest place to get to and it is amazing how many nooks there are to explore in the city.

6. Go to the movies... Not only because I have some unused vouchers but because I will not get the opportunity to watch English speaking movies in a cinema for a while.

7. Go to Wet n Wild water park... I had never been there but I did recently and it turned out to be good fun despite the epic queues. (and the sun burn)

8. Buy an Aussie team shirt or something else Aussie to take overseas... For obvious reasons. Or I could do what a large portion of the population does and get the ever classy southern cross tattoo... or NOT.

9. Catch up with a huge list of people before I go... I have several rainchecks with people that I need to redeem.

10. PACK!.. I need to condense my possessions down to 3 bags and 30kg. I am currently about 5kg overweight which will equate to about $1000000 in excess baggage fees.

I doubt everything will get done, mainly because I am so lazy, but I will do my best. Sorry if I don't get to catch up with you before I go!!!

If anyone has any other suggestions for things that I should do before I go, please let me know!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bachelorhood

My wife left me today. Not in a 'I've had enough and I'm leaving you!' way, but in a planned 'I'll meet you in Europe' kind of way.

After weeks of planning, I don't think my wife (or myself for that matter) ever really thought this day would come. The initial decision to move to Europe for the year. Deciding to go to Germany. Booking the tickets and organising a visa. Selling everything we own in our garage sale. Packing up what we had left and moving out. Cancelling cards and memberships and changing our mailing address. All of this was just a precursor for this big day. But she still wasn't ready.


All morning her phone has been ringing with family and loved ones wanting to wish her good luck. Each phone call just making her more upset about leaving and at the same time, making it all a bit more real. Thankfully, two friends of ours are joining her on this adventure, (Thanks Beck and Ben!!) meaning my wife doesn't have to go through anything alone. When you are stuck in a place where no one speaks your language it is always a lot easier when you have someone you kbnow with you. That way, if you get lost, miss a flight, catch the wrong train or don't know how to ask for directions, at least you can suffer together.

While my wife sets off on her trip, I have had a taste of my own medicine. Now I know what she feels like every time I travel somewhere and leave her behind. Sure, I've got all the time in the world now to train and do whatever I want. BUT... I am already bored. I just finished eating baked beans on toast for dinner and am about to sit down to season 2 of Modern Family after completing the entire first season!! I feel like I am back at university again, when I lived on 2 minute noodles and beer. I had no problem watching tv until 3am and waking up for lunch.

But this is no holiday. It will be about six weeks until I see my wife again and I hope she has as much fun as I do while travelling! Until then, I wonder if my Mum will help me with my cleaning???

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seven Eleven

In Australia, you only usually only go to a Seven-Eleven store for one of two reasons.

1. It's past 9pm, the supermarkets are closed and someone is sitting on the toilet waiting for you because you ran out of toilet paper or you desparately need some other essential such as milk or bread.

2. It's past 9pm, you stumble out of a bar after several drinks, all the other fast food restaurants are closed or not within staggering distance and you desparately need some grease in the form of a travellers pie or the risky 7-11 hot dog.

Other than these two examples, most Aussies avoid Seven Eleven stores. Not because they are inconvenient or open at inconvenient times, but generally because you can get the exact same items at half the price and further from the expirey date at the local supermarket.

In Aisa, it seems that Seven Eleven stores have totally the opposite reputation. They have absolutely everything you could need and at normal prices. From bakery goods to Octopus Cards (the Hong Kong equivalent of Brisbane's 'Go Card' that can be used to pay for just about everything, not just public transport) to sim cards to hot coffee to beer! You could pretty much do your weekly shopping at a Seven Eleven.


The other astonishing difference about Seven Eleven in Aisa, is the fact that they are almost literally on every street corner. In some cases, you can see a Seven Eleven store whist standing inside another! If one store doesn't have what you need, just walk a couple of hundred meters to the next one!

I can see the concept that Seven Eleven is trying to bring to Australia, but it is just not working. Lets face it, all that they need to keep on their shelves in Australia is milk, bread, toilet paper, pies, hotdogs and a range of confectionary and ice-creams. Seven Eleven is an emergency store only.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Human Viewing Gallery

When you travel domestically in Australia, you can get off the plane, collect your bags and walk out the door to get a taxi or meet loved ones.

Traveling internationally is a different story as leaving the airport is a more intense experience. You must have your immigration card completed, pass through the checkpoint and on to the luggage carousel where you may have to complete a customs card before passing through another screening process. After these ordeals you are free to exit out of, usually, a clouded glass exit that no one can see through from the outside.


You breathe a sigh of relief as you walk through the door, thankful that the ordeal is over and you were permitted to enter, only to be confronted by a wall of people wanting to be the first to spot their loved ones as they come out. Mixed amongst these are hotel and resort representatives holding signs with random names as they struggle to find the passengers they are supposed to collect.


If you are one of these passengers that is being picked up by a stranger, you have to walk slowly along the wall of people to read every sign carefully. I can't help but think that this is what zoo animals must feel like as I walk past all of the staring faces.

Mumbai airport was the worst example of this that I have experienced. I walked out to literally, hundreds of people yelling and shouting with the background noise of taxis and tuk tuks beeping for passengers to choose them over others. I walked past about 50m of signs and posters looking carefully for my name. I got to the end and regretfully didnt spot my name which meant I had to do the walk of shame in the opposite direction. After four trips up and down the gallery like I was on a fashion runway, I threw in the towel and called the race organizers who, as it turned out, were running late. So I pulled up a chair right in the middle of the zoo feeling as if a hundred eyes were on me.

I did nothing but stare at my iPhone screen for half an hour until the race organizers showed up and identified me within the viewing pen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Choose your own chicken

Remember when McDonalds had a promotion that said if you didn't get your meal in 60 seconds it would be free? Remember how because of this, they kept several burgers on standby which meant your meal may have been sitting there for an hour before you got it?

Well how times have changed. Everything now is about 'fresh food'. From Woolworths the fresh food people, to that freshly made sandwich at Subway, we all want a meal that is made in front of us with fresh ingredients.

In Asia, 'freshly made' is taken to a whole new level. In Hong Kong, at seafood restaurants everywhere, you can choose the fish or crab you want to eat from a tank and they will take it out back and cook it up for you. 'This isn't new', you may think and yes, we have this option in Australia.


But can you choose your own goat or chicken?

After wondering down some street markets in India, I found some stalls that served BBQ goat and chicken. Next to the goat stall was a table at which a man yielding a large knife cut huge chucks of goat into smaller BBQ size portions. The meat lay on the table ready for you to choose the piece you want.



Better still, the chicken stall had cages filled with unknowing chickens, that you could select, watch get slaughtered and BBQ on the grill that sat centimeters above their heads. I wonder if they knew what was going on?


This may make your stomach churn, but the worst is yet to come. Beside the stall, you could see the pools of blood where the animals met their doom, the pavement stained from years of repeated killings.

These stalls, although gruesome, coupled with the fresh fruit and vegetable stalls next door, made for a 'fresh food' treat. Fresher than any Woolworths back in Australia, that's for sure. For some reason though, I didn't feel like eating anything???

The Moustache

I can't grow one but if I could, India would be the place to put it on display. In Australia, the moustache is generally not an accepted facial accessory excluding a few over 50 year olds caught in a time warp. For one month of the year, in 'Movember', males are permitted to look like actors from 1970's cop shows in order to raise money for prostate cancer research but this is just a facade for university students to take advantage of the free burgers that Grilled restaurants give to those participating. I'm in no way interested in upholstering my upper lip and it has nothing to do with the fact that I need a 3 month head start to do it. Honest.

In India, however, the moustache is spectacular. Every second male has one. Not the Hitler or the Merv Hughes, but just a plain, whole upper lip moustache. I don't know the theory behind this. In fact, I really wanted to ask someone but was concerned I would be insulting some sort of ancient Indian moustache growing tradition. I always assumed the moustache was the Indian equivalent of the Australian akubra hat. The media says that we wear them, but in reality, we all think they look stupid. But I was wrong.


It also seems that the standard moustache is a little low-key for the higher regarded political figures and elders of the community. They can be seen with extravagant curls and twists that look like someone has knitted a face warmer for them. It looks almost impractical but they wear it with pride.



Or maybe there IS a physical benefit to having a moustache?? There is a large amount of dust and pollution in the air in India and some sort of filter under the nose would surely purify the air to some degree on it's way in? Whatever the reason, I respect it. It is not a fad that is going to catch on in Australia anytime soon but I don't want to call it too early. The mullet made a return and hideous fashion from the eighties is rising in popularity again. Perhaps Movember is just a taste of what's to come? I hope not.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buffet Dining

I almost never go to Sizzler. It used to be a great family night out but all you can eat buffet dining is somewhat frowned apon in Australia. Perhaps it is because it perpetuates that stereotype of western consumerism and the grassroots of our obesity epidemic. Or maybe because it is about as gormet as a Happy Meal. Either way, I miss it. If it wasn't for my wife's guiding words, I'd probably be woofing down a plate of cheese bread right now before taking on the ice cream machine.

When I travel for races, the team is accommodated by race organizers in a hotel. Some hotels are good, some hotels are not so good, but they all have one thing in common; buffet dining. Buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, buffet dinner.


This is great if you like to partake of the host country's native delicacies, as the buffet usually consists of mainly local cuisine with a few western dishes thrown in for good measure. But it is also dangerous.

Denying myself of buffet dining back home means that when I do get to eat from one it is somewhat of a treat. This treat is generally few and far between so I make the most of the opportunity and eat until I am about to burst in an attempt to have one of everything on the table. As a once every-now-and-then thing, this is acceptable but when the team stays in a hotel for a week at a time, it has it's complications.


My mind is torn in two as I struggle to fathom that I dont need to eat one of everything and the buffet will be there again later. By the time lunch rolls around, I'm still digesting the 4 plates that I ate for breakfast!

I also know that hotel food is not a true example of the local cuisine but a more westernized, often milder version of the real thing. So on the other hand, I also want to get out of the hotel to try some street food but I am too full to do it.

I know what you are thinking, 'Oh no. Poor you, it must be horrible', and I appreciate your concern but will always stand by my motto. My father passed it down to me from a family tradition of over-eating: ALWAYS MAKE THE MOST OF A BUFFET MEAL.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Toula toula

After the final race in India, we had the afternoon to do as we pleased. We grabbed a taxi; well actually, the taxi driver grabbed us. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel, he greeted us with, 'Hello, my friends. Where would you like to go?' We headed into the 'city' (Well not old school Bombay, but some shops and restaurant area) at the taxi drivers suggestion. I can't help but feel we got a little ripped off with the taxi fare but it was still much less than what you would pay in Australia so I didn't care.

All of the taxi’s in India are very basic vehicles. Having a stereo is purely a luxury, so to break the silence, the taxi driver sang for us. There are stories of Indian taxi drivers back in Australia doing this but I just assumed it was one or two eccentric cabbies. More interestingly, our taxi driver must have just popped a valium as he was quite calm and relaxed and did not use his horn once the entire trip!!



After walking around the streets and taking several photos we headed back to the taxi. The driver insisted that he would wait for us and drive us back to the hotel. When we jumped in, the taxi would not start, so we got out and gave him a push start. Luckily, almost every car in India is the size of a Smart Car in Australia so you could pretty much pick up the taxi if you want to move it. The trip home took a little longer due to the peak hour traffic so to make conversation I asked some questions.


One of these was how to say 'Thank You' in India. The driver took a long time to reply and with a cheeky smile he said, 'Toula toula'. I saw his smile and tried to call his bluff. 'You are trying to trick us!' But he stood by his claim and said 'Toula toula'. When we arrived at the Hotel and as I paid I said, 'Toula toula', to which the taxi driver began to laugh. He said, 'Have a good day, my friend.'

Inside the hotel, I asked the concierge what 'Toula toula' means. He began to laugh as well, before informing me that it is a joke that the locals play on foreigners. 'Toula toula' is what you say if you want to buy a small amount of marijuana. I could just picture myself at customs in the Mumbai airport, saying ‘Toula toula’ to the security guards. I don’t think that they would have laughed as much.

Race 2... Even worse!

Today was the second race in India, the Mumbai Cyclthon. It was supposed to be 12 laps of a 9km circuit that took in part of the highway beside the sea and a loop through the city. The roads were to be completely 'closed' however, we had the same concerns as the first race as people entered the road where they pleased.

On the way out to the course, official cars blocked traffic behind us and they could not overtake. The sound was amazing! Hundreds of cars beeping their horns in unison as they pushed and tried to get around. Motorbikes snuck through gaps and went past the peleton at 100kph as they were chased by officials.

We started the race, an hour late, and headed up a huge bridge on the highway. On the way to the top, we crossed 5 sets of ripple strips that sent water bottles flying everywhere again. Near the top of the bridge the bunch was pushing 60kph as we found locals at the top with bicycles taking photos. We screamed for them to move and one decided he would ride across the road. Amazingly, the entire peleton missed him. Well almost... a Radioshack rider clipped him and took a tumble.



At this point, the peleton decided it was too dangerous and stopped racing. We rolled back down the bridge to the start line where we complained to the race officials. They argued for an hour before deciding to make the race a hotdog criterium on the bridge and cutting out the city loop, much to the riders' joy.


This shortened the race to 11 laps of a 7km loop. The pace was again controlled largely by Liquigas and Radioshack as they attempted to set things up for their sprinters. The finish line was positioned 300m after a U-turn so it was going to be a true power sprinter's race. A small break managed to get about 400m on the bunch but were reeled in for the last lap. We all jostled for position before the final U-turn as the first few were the only ones with a real opportunity to win.

Robbie Hunter was one of these as he powered out of the corner and again to cross the line in first place. I managed to finish in the sprint but am just glad to say I stayed upright. With the racing in India over, I am relieved. The road conditions here are no where near suitable for a bike race and they are a long way from their goal of having a stage race in India.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trucker Pride

If you have ever had the pleasure of working in retail or another vocation that is or works with transportation, you will have no doubt come into contact with truck drivers.
If you have ever had the pleasure of talking to a truck driver, you will have no doubt heard about their truck.
If you have ever heard a truck driver talk about his/her truck, then you will have no doubt been witness to what I like to call trucker pride.

In my experience in Australia, truckies treat their trucks like their children. Shining every bit of polished steel and gently scraping off every dead insect stuck to the front. They bragg about the comfort of their sleeping arangements in the cab of their truck and affectionately name their truck in big letters across the front bumber. You get great names, like 'The Duke', 'Blue Thunder' and 'Rolling Justice'. In fact, if you ever get a truck and are stuck for a name, here is a website that will randomly generate one for you... www.monstertrucknames.com


In India, it seems that trucker pride takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of making their trucks look huge, new and so shiny it hurts your eyes to look at it, the trucks here are decorated in bright colours, patterns and even streamers. They take just as much pride in this decorating as truckies have for their own trucks in Australia.



I would love to see a truckie getting around in one of these in Australia. I have a feeling that paintings of lotus flowers, peacocks and rainbows wouldn't go over too well amongst others at the truck stop.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Racing in India = CRAZY!

Today was the first race in India, the 170km Nashik Cyclethon. The race consisted of a 112km out and back loop on the highway followed by 7 laps of a 9km course in the city. The race was to have a rolling road closure with police and motorbike scouts preventing vehicles from entering the road. The problem is, there are no real intersections in India. Bikes, scooters, tuk tuks, cars, trucks and pedestrians just enter the road everywhere and with the locals caring very little for a bike race, it was almost impossible to close the roads.

The first 5km was 'neutral' and we got a taste of the traffic as cars came at us from the opposite direction and others beeped at us as they overtook the race.
We hit the highway and conditions got a lot better with just the odd car and motorbike getting in the way.

With ProTour teams, Radioshack and Liquigas along with Team Type 1 at the race, a breakaway without them was always pointless. A 7km climb at the 50km point also meant that the peleton was keen to stay together. A few attacks went off the front but quickly came back into the fold and the bunch stayed together.

To add to the traffic conditions, at the 30km point, the race passed through a toll point. Just before the toll was a series of speed bumps about a metre apart, designed to slow cars down. As the peleton hit the rumple strips at 50kph, water bottles went flying everywhere, including mine. I went back to the car to fetch more, only to lose another bottle 2km up the road on another set of bumps. To make things worse, on the 7km descent down the mountain, there was a further 5 sets of speed bumps that the peleton hit at full speed. It left teams with several punctures and a few less water bottles.

On the way back up the 7km climb, I lost contact near the top but was with a small bunch that was sure to get back on. With the lead group a few hundred metres away, we were making ground. An Indian National Team rider was struggling behind us, with his hands on top of his handlebars and holding onto last wheel. As I rolled to the back of the line, slotted in just in front of him. Everyone slowed suddenly and with his hands off the brakes, the Indian rider rode straight into the back of me, bringing us both down.

As I picked myself up, people from the side of the road picked up my bike and attempted to fix the rear wheel and chain but only made things worse. Frustrated, I 'kindly' asked them to stop and checked my bike over. Both wheels were buckled with the rear rubbing slightly on the brakes. I eventually got going again but was well off the pace. I joined a few others that had fallen behind and we made our way back.

Being behind the lead group also meant that we had to ride through traffic as cars and trucks quickly made their way onto the road after the lead cars past. We had a few near misses on our way back in and once we reached the city, there was no point in continuing. I made my way to the race doctor to get cleaned up and planned to wait for the race to finish. However, as soon as I stopped anywhere, I was swamped by locals that wanted to touch my bike and take it for a ride or get a photo or ask me a million questions that I couldnt understand. Consequently, I headed back to the hotel through the traffic again to get rid of my frustrations.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Road Rage

There are two things that really annoy me. The sequel to Starship Troopers and people that drive in the right-hand lane. “Keep left unless overtaking”. What is so hard to understand?? There is nothing more annoying than cruising along in the right lane going past traffic when you come up behind someone doing 10kph under the speed limit. I have to grit my teeth and resist the urge to beep or flash my lights at them. Despite this, after riding on the roads of India, I have decided that we are pretty civilised in Australia.

There does not appear to be any road rules in India. The ‘highway’ has no line markings and it is a free-for-all as everybody does as they please. Everybody drives at different speeds. You can overtake whenever you like; even if it is on a blind corner around a semi-trailer in a bus full of kids. It is okay if you need to drive on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic for a short period if you have to. Nobody indicates to turn. Nobody indicates to change lanes. Nobody looks when they pull into an intersection. BUT... EVERYBODY BEEPS THEIR HORN ALL THE TIME.



Now don’t get me wrong. This is not in a pissed off, get out of my way you idiot, Australian kind of way. You don’t hear the extended 3 second horn with associated verbal abuse. Instead, the horn is used short and sharp and repetitively as more of a warning to let people know you are coming. They beep when they enter an intersection. They beep when they overtake. They beep when they are being overtaken. They beep as they approach behind you. They beep as the approach in front of you.

It seems that most of the traffic problems could be solved with a couple of simple rules such as indicate if you are turning or changing lanes and giveway to your right. But alas, using the horn seems to be the only rule and is in fact, encouraged. Written on the back of every truck are the words ‘HORN OK PLEASE’, suggesting that you beep your horn as you approach and overtake. Intersections are absolute chaos as every vehicle beeps their horn and drives blindly into the crossroads from every direction.

What is the result of this chaos??? Well, the speed almost never goes over 40kph, even on the highway. Vehicles must come to almost a complete stop at every intersection and you must expect a car to come toward you on the wrong side of the road beeping their horn. I have a story to give you some perspective...

After arriving in India for the Tour of Mumbai, we had a 4.5hr bus ride to Nashik, to the North- East. We left the Mumbai airport at 2am, so I was told that this meant that traffic was much less than during the day. During the 4.5hr trip, I fell in and out of sleep, but was awake to witness the attempted overtaking of a truck. The bus driver beeped his horn accordingly and pulled around the truck. The truck did not realise and also moved over. Consequently, the truck’s mirror scraped down the entire length of the bus as we went past!

At 6.30am I woke again as we pulled into the Race Hotel and assumed we were hundreds of kilometres from Mumbai. I looked back down the highway and saw a sign. It read... ‘MUMBAI 170km’. So in 4.5hrs, in ‘good traffic’, we managed to travel 170km!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Waiting Room

When you have a stopover somewhere on a trip and change airlines, generally, you can leave the airport and do whatever you like until your next flight. This is what usually happens to me. You go through customs, collect your bags and then lug them around until you can check into your next flight. This is especially pleasant when you have to carry a bike around.

This time however, I made a fatal error. My first flight was to Singapore via emirates, then after a 10hr stopover, I continue on to Mumbai with Jet Airways which, to be honest, I had never heard of. So that I didn't have to take carry on luggage, I checked in everything except my laptop, assuming that I could collect my bags in Singapore. This way, you can go for a quick exit off the plane and don't have to battle hundreds of other people searching for their stuff in the overhead lockers.

The problem is, apparently, Jet Airways is the same as Emirates and my luggage is checked in all the way to Mumbai. This now means two things. 1: I have no fresh shirt, socks or deodorant. 2: I am trapped within the airport for the next ten hours and can't leave.

Sure, The Singapore airport is pretty big and if you like to buy duty free alcohol, electronics and chocolate, you would love it, but if you have very little currency and can't take more than 100ml of liquid on a plane, it is a little boring.

So far I have identified a few things: Dunkin Donuts does not make good coffee. Dunkin Donuts does make good donuts. Starbucks makes better coffee than Dunkin Donuts (but only just). It can take almost 30min to walk the entire length of the 'B' gates, of which you are indoors the entire way. Free Internet is extremely slow and duty free really isn't that cheap.

So now I am half way through my ten hour wait and looking for things to do. I am considering buying another shirt to replace my checked in luggage and am wondering how long I can ride around on the trams between terminals before someone kicks me off. Alternatively, I could take up plane spotting as I have seen several come and go in my time here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Art meets bicycle

Not everybody enjoys cycling for the same reasons. Believe it or not, some do not appreciate putting on skin tight lycra and riding around for hours on a bike that costs thousands of dallars. My wife is an example of this. She is an artistic person. She loves art, photography and pretty much anything creative and/or retro. Consequently, she enjoys the urban and fixie culture of cycling that is becomming popular in our home city of Brisbane.

It is difficult to go through the city without seeing a coffee shop with a custom built fixie chained to a pole outside. They act as an indicator to those passing by that 'cool' and 'hip' people hang out or work here. Tight black jeans are commonplace and you could be forgiven for thinking you walked into a tattoo parlor. My wife is always keen to visit these places and is always snapping away on her camera. She sees it as more of an 'art' than a sport or mode of transport.


My wife's passion can be summed up in her favourite magazine, 'Frankie'. It is all about illustration, art, photography, polaroids, wallpaper, articles, funny stories and independent men and women. However, there is nothing about cycling. Despite the culture in the fixie scene, there is not much mainstream media to capture it.


That is until we were perusing some magazines in the newsagent and stumbled across what seems to be the Frankie magazine of the cycling world. 'Treadlie' is a new cycling magazine that doesn't focus on the pro peleton or racing at all for that matter. It focuses on the everyday person's passion for cycling, bikes and their stories. The new gear section is filled with retro cycling products and the bike review is of a 1970's Raleigh.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Insignificant

I have no claim to fame. I didn't invent the post-it, I'm not in the Guiness Book of Records and I have never slept with Shane Warne. The fact is, I'm just some guy from Australia on a bike. No one would recognize me from a bar of soap.

For some other guys that I have met recently, it's a different story. In the team we have an Estonian national champion, the current and former hong kong national champion, a yellow jersey wearer at the tour de France, Tour de France stage winner and the gold medalist in BMX from Asian Games. Luckily, I haven't made an idiot of myself by saying something stupid to them before finding out.

The other night we met up with another team for dinner. There was a Malaysian national champion and the first Japanese rider to complete the Tour de France.

This all made me feel a little insignificant in comparison. If only there was an award for the longest skid in my driveway, or even a jersey for the last person to leave the coffee shop after a training ride. I'd be awesome if there was.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Carless...

In preparation for moving overseas, my wife and I have sold our car. Thankfully, it made a new P-plater very happy but it also means that I have been without a car for almost a week now.

Normally, this wouldn't bother me, however, we are staying with friends a little further away from things than what I am used to. I feel like a travelling gypsy, going from one place to another with no real home. The commute to work is now a 64km round trip via the bike and although everything I own has been condensed into 3 bags, transporting them can be a tedious task.

Despite this, I remain optimistic. The longer commute serves as extra training km's and the lack of a car has allowed me to get into touch with the Brisbane Public Bus service which I have not used since back in my University days. I can handle the trains but the bus system has always been too confusing for me to bother with. After one day of work without a car I was confident that there was not going to be any issues. But I forgot one thing...

In case you have been living in a cave, Brisbane and Queensland in general has been getting a lot of rain lately. The city is still recovering from floods and some parts are still completely shut down. Mother nature has continued to be cruel, and with a tropical cyclone hitting the northern coast, the rain is still coming.

Every morning I wake up to gray skies and pack my rain jacket into my back pocket. Although it is raining, the temperature and humidity are so high that a rain jacket is made redundant by the fact that you sweat so much underneath it and you end up just as wet but ten times more smelly. I spend a few hours riding in the wet and eventually make my way to work, arriving just as the sun comes out and the blue sky appears. I then spend the next hour washing the road grime and grit out of my kit and cleaning my bike. I hang my kit in the sun to dry and go back to work. When its time to go home, I just hope that it is dry and it isn't raining again.

So far, this has happened for four consecutive days. My optimism about not having a car is dwindling and as I am about to go to sleep, I am hoping that the sun is visible in the morning.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tan lines...

Cycling is an outdoor sport. Consequently, you spend numerous hours in the sun. This normally wouldn't be a problem as long as you lather yourself in several coats of sunscreen. With cycling, however, you wear the exact same outfit that sits in the exact same position everytime you ride. The result is horrible tan lines that make you look like you have been out ploughing the fields or been to one too many summer beach BBQs.

If you look at pictures of me, you can easily see that I have some sort of ethnic background as my skin is a shade of brown rather than the pale white of most Aussies. As my mother is Phillipino, I have been genetically blessed with skin that tans easily. BUT... without exposure to the sun, I remain pastey white like an agoraphobic during winter in Alaska. The result... sock tan, glove tan, helmet tan, shirt tan and shorts tan!

A few days ago, to celebrate my niece's birthday, the family was to meet up at Wet 'n' Wild, a water park near the Gold Coast. My first thought was, 'fantastic!'. It is the middle of summer and hitting the water slides is a fantastic way to cool down. Then I realised. I am going to have to walk around shirtless all day.

I'm not particularly self-conscious, but previous experiences at the local swimming pool and beach has shown that my tan lines are a source of humour for some. My wife assured me that this was not going to be the case at Wet n Wild and would actually be a great chance to even out my colour.

So I strutted around Wet n Wild for a day, lathered in sunscreen and secretly looking around to see if anyone else had the striking zebra pattern. I saw a few sunburnt bodies from recent Australia day celebrations but that was about it. Nobody said anything to me about my tan lines but I'm pretty sure I saw some people staring and pointing.

As for making the rest of me the same colour... Alas, all I received was a nasty sunburn on my more pale areas. I am convinced that the only remedy is to ride around in the sun in 'reverse cycling kit'. That is... arm warmers and leg warmers and nothing else, as the guy below is demonstrating. I don't think other cyclists would appreciate it though.