Monday, February 27, 2012

Cycling Fashion Faux Pas

I was trawling through some old photos today, thinking about the good old days when I first started cycling and noticed some horrible fashion trends. I would like to say that these horrible fashion trends were common amongst cyclists in general, however, I have a feeling that they may be restricted to my trends only. Similar to when you look back at photos of yourself a decade ago and you can't believe you used to wear those clothes.

Despite this, I am going to say that they were the style at the time and thankfully, I have since out grown them. I suffered these cycling fashion faux pas so that others could learn from my mistakes. Pretty much like the 80's (except it seems that today's younger generations didn't learn anything!)

When I first start cyling, bright coulours were in. Giant were making bright pink bikes in honour of their Deutchland Telecom sponsored team and everyone was buying coloured tyres and bar tape to match their bike frame. I too was victim of this and rode around on my blue Trek with blue tyres and blue handlebar tape. I didn't know any better.



Following this came the trend of white knicks. They looked spectacular when they came out of the packet, gleaming in their shiny, white glory. But after a few uses and a bit of sweat or wet weather, they became a little see through. I'm certain that there are some regretable podium photos out there.



Although today it seems that every single cyclist owns a pair of Oakley Radar sunglasses, the moto used to be 'the bigger, the better'. Rudy Project were my brand of choice as big sunnies were made popular by the King of cycling fashion himself, Mario Cipollini. If your sunnies didn't cover the bulk of your face, they weren't big enough.



Another cycling fashion faux pas that came and went was the cycling euro mullet. I often wondered where guys were getting these haircuts done and exactly what they would ask for... 'Give me a Billy Ray Cyrus but make it classy'??? I'll admit it, I had mullet envy but thankfully, the craze disappeared. I have a feeling that it receeded along with Tom Boonen's hairline as he seemed to be the pioneer of the euro mullet.



Another trend was the swinging necklace pendant. This was made famous by Lance Armstrong as his cross that swung rhythmically around his neck as he 'danced' on his pedals and climbed his way to victory in the Tour de France despite openly admitting that he doesn't believe in God. The only thing worse than seeing people unzip their jersey to expose a necklace is seeing them try to mimick Lance's trademark 'Look back' while going up a hill.



Another cycling fashion faux pas that Lance Armstrong can be held responsible for is the yellow rubber wrist band. In its peak, it was tough to find a single person that was not sporting a bright yellow 'Livestrong' band. It made Livestrong a household name and paved the way for hundreds of charities to get on the band wagon and push the wrist band idea. Sadly, it is a trend that continues today.



Finally, the last cycling fashion faux pas is ankle socks. This was perhaps limited to the triathlon crowd that I was involved with when I first started cycling, but a faux pas nonetheless. To be honest, I don't know why ankle socks are frowned apon in the cycling community, they serve the exact same purpose as longer socks but are probably a lot cooler. Despite this, today's sock fashion is at the other end of the scale, with the sock coming right up to sit just below the calf. It seems, it just means that your sock tan stands out more.



So what will be next on the list of lessons learnt. For me, I have a feeling that it will be the white tyres that I have been sporting or the mud guard that is permanently attached to my road bike. Regardless, I'm going to carry on and learn the hard way so that future generations don't have to. Afterall, where would we be without hindsight?

Sizzling Summer Series Round 1

It was always going to be a fast race. 74 guys going as hard as they can around a flat hot mix course. We may as well have been on a velodrome.

With the bigger teams there we thought we could just sit and and let them do the bulk of the work, as long as we didn't miss the important breaks. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. The boys from jayco-AIS, TDU and QAS were on the offensive at the front while Pensar-Hawk, Data3 and Campos twiddled their thumbs down at the other end.



We represented in the breaks of the day and I managed to spend a few laps away in the middle of it all but a bunch sprint was inevitable. With 10mins to go, Pensar-Hawk sent what felt like half the peleton to the front in an effort to control the race. However, they were too early and too slow as the bunch swelled at the front and the sprinters bided their time.

Right on the hour mark, the chaos culminated with a touch of wheels in the back corner and a crash took out half the field. I went to the front as they got the 3 to go sign in an effort to string out the remaining riders and make the sprint a bit safer for Timmy. I rolled off with a lap and a half left but Tim still had some ground to make up. As they turned the last corner all of the hitters were at the front but Tim did not have the legs for it.



Pete Thompson won the sprint with Jay McCarthy hot on his heels. With an average speed of 47kph on a windy day, Round two will most likely be faster an harder. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Perspective

Doing the same rides over and over each week can get pretty boring and repetative. So tonight I thought I'd mix it up a bit and head out on the fixie. I even managed to talk Emily into joining me for a night time ride through the city.

I may own a fixie, but I am no hipster. I'm not rolling around in my skinny jeans and tight shirt- it's summer! Instead, I donned the casual shorts and shirt, whacked on a super bright light and headed out.



Its been a while since I have ridden at night and I had forgotten a few things. Firstly, there is a heck of a lot less traffic on the roads. Secondly, there is no sun so it is a heck of a lot cooler too. With everyone already home from work, there is no one else on the bike paths trying to win the 'Bikeway 500'.



We cruised around the bike paths and headed through Kangaroo Point and over the Story Bridge. Despite having ridden the exact same route countless number of times, everything seemed different. Not being focused on getting from A to B meant that I was able to enjoy the surrounds for once and with strategically positioned lights everywhere, I noticed a lot more than usual.



The buildings were all lit up like Christmas trees and it was like looking into a doll house as you could see everything that was going on inside each room. People still sitting at their desks, people watching TV, people preparing dinner and even people preparing to have a shower! I wonder if they realise just how open they are to the outside world when their lights are on at night!



After the Story Bridge, we rolled along the water front and into Eagle Street Pier. It felt like we were riding straight through the middle of a fancy restaurant as we passed through Jade Buddah and Groove Train resaurants that were surprisingly busy for a week night.

After passing by all the love birds sitting on the benches in the Botanical Gardens, we headed up over the Green Bridge and back towards home. We stopped briefly at the top to soak up some of the cool night time breeze and enjoy the view. The city is very different at night and I rarely get the chance to appreciate it. It was good to get another perspective on a common ride.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tyalgum Cup

In lieu of the race that was cancelled on Australia Day, the Tyalgum Cup was moved to yesterday. I have tried to enter the race before in previous years, however, due to daylight savings time in NSW, I missed the start of the race. This time, with the race being on in the afternoon, I was confident of making it on time.

The race started at 2:30pm EDST, or 1:30 QLD time. With Google Maps suggesting a travel time of 1hr47min, Matt Ryan, Tim Dalgliesh and I left at 10:30am, meaning we would arrive with over an hour to change and warmup. That was before we hit the traffic.



An accident somewhere along the Pacific Motorway at Yatala meant that traffic was at an absolute stand still. Then road works at Coolangatta brought everything to a hault again. Despite this, we kept driving, calculating that we had around 30mins to spare before the race started. That was before we got lost.

Relying on an iPhone for google maps means that you're also relying on good phone service cverage. However, in the Currumbin Valley, reception drops out constantly. We were driving along narrow and twisting mountain roads when my reception kicked in and we discovered that we were going the wrong way. We back tracked and found our way onto the correct road, only to discover that we were going to make it with approximately 3 mins to spare before the start of the race.

Tim drove like a man on a mission (yet completely within the confines of speed limits and road rules), and we arrived with seconds to spare. I climbed out of the car and was about ready to throw up due to trying to look at a map and driving on winding roads making me car sick.

I threw on my kit, put a water bottle in my bike and went straight to the start. After a 40m warm-up, my legs (and head) were not ready to go hard. The first few kilometers were painful as I adjusted from sitting in a car to going as hard as I could on a bike.



Fortunately for Matt and I, Tim made it into the early break and we sat back and relaxed in the bunch. UNfortunately for Tim, he punctured with about 20km to go and had to fiund his own way back to the car.

Having never done the race before, meant that I didn't know what to expect in terms of direction or terrain. With 3km to go, Matt was yelling at me to prepare for the sprint. Then we hit a couple of bumps in the road.

Two shoret but sharp climbs split the field and left Matt chasing behind. I held onto a small front group of 6-7 riders and we hit the downhill run into the finish. After leaving town by turning at a main intersection, I jumped on the brakes as we approached it on the return, preparing for a sharp turn then a sprint. Then I found out we returned via a different way and we went straight through the intersection.

This put me on the back foot as everyone else went past me. I hit the gas again but was too far back and crossed the line in 6th position. A disappointing finish to a hectic day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back in the Day

I was with some friends recently, discussing the days when we all first started riding. We laughed at the bikes we used to ride and what we thought was appropriate and 'cool'.

I reminisced about riding everywhere on the huge antler-like aeorbars that were bolted to the front of my bike and crying as I rode up, what was at the time, a HUGE hill on my first long ride.

Despite my numerous stories surrounding my entry into cycling, one particular story took the cake. I initially started riding in the summer of 2002. At this time of year, I was more accustomed to sitting in a kiddies pool with a six pack of beer rather than exercising in the sun. To limit my suffering in the heat, I decided to purchase a sleeveless jersey, which still is common fashion amongst triathletes today.

I headed down to the local bike shop and found a nice, plain blue sleeveless jersey. I wanted something that didn't stand out so the plain blue option was perfect. The bike shop owner didn't flinch when I bought a sleeveless jersey in the middle of summer and why would he??

I went home and donned my new sleeveless jersey to take it out for a test ride. It was hot and humid, so perfect weather to see if it made a difference. 1km down the road and I couldn't stop sweating. The short-sleeve jersey was stupidly hot. I may as well have been wearing a sweater. 15mins later and the sleeveless jersey was sticking to me and I couldn't take it anymore. I unzipped the jersey and made my way home, baffled by my purchase.

I did't use the sleeveless jersey again all summer, concerned that I would die of heat stroke if I wore it again. Then winter rolled around. I suffered through the colder temperatures as it got colder. All of my friends recommended that I consider getting some arm and leg warmers to beat the chill but there was one purchase that was absolutely vital to staying warm. It was something called a wind-vest and was made of a special material that blocked out the wind and trapped in the heat.



After seeing one in the flesh, it dawned on me. Turned out, last summer, I was riding around in a wind-vest. No wonder it was so damn hot!! I now wonder what the guy at the bike shop was thinking when I was buying a wind-vest in the middle of summer!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Speed Ageing

I have some friends that have been unfortunate in the hair department. One friend was bald by the time he was 25, one friend looks like he has a fur suit on underneath his clothes and another started turning grey before he had his driver's license. Luckily for me, I have a thick head of black hair that doesn't look like its going to go anywhere soon. Well, at least that was what I thought until yesterday.

Whilst sitting at the computer my wife walked past and gasped, yelling out, 'You're going grey!', whilst laughing her head off at the same time. Certain that it was the light hitting it at an odd angle or something in my hair, I scoffed at her and asked her to pluck it out as evidence.

After some struggle, she ripped out a miscouloured, barely grey hair. I thought nothing of it. Heck, I've had an old faithful white hair in my right eyebrow for as long as I can remember that I let grow until I can see it in my periphery so what is one discoloured hair going to do?

Despite my lack of concern, I cut my hair, just to be sure that any other rogue hairs would be cut back down to size. Problem sorted. Then today, whilst washing my hands, there in the mirror, right in the middle of my head was another grey hair that was about 2cm longer than any of the others!!



Where did it come from? Does it happen overnight? Is it that fast? How did it get so long so quickly? Will I wake up in a weeks time with a full silver head of hair? I've decided to consult my grey-haired friend but I have a feeling I'm just going to get a lot of bad noise as I have given him a bit of stick about his premature greyness over the years.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Image

Let's face it, road cyclists are a shallow bunch. They are all about having the best brands and equipment and making sure their socks are just the right height. Note that I use the term 'they' instead of 'we'... That's because I have been ostracized for breaking the norm.

With all the wet weather lately and my lack of vehicle forcing me to commute to work, I decided to attach a mudguard permanantly to my wet weather bike. It means I get to work without the standard mud strip up my back.



Despite its practicality, my mudguard is frowned upon by other road cyclists. It attracts several derogatory remarks and questions as to why I'd ever want to do that to my bike.

After hearing this, I am using my mudguard even more, just to annoy everyone. I am doing bunch rides and training sessions with my mudguard on. When you think about it, everyone should be thanking me. If it wasn't for my mudguard, everyone behind me would be getting a faceful of dirt and water.