Monday, May 30, 2011

Shop Talk with Shop Guy #2

Welcome to Shop Talk with Shop Guy* #2. We can't show you Shop Guy's face because he's a shop guy. Today, Shop Guy teaches us how to get sponsored.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


In case you haven't heard of 2XU, it's a sports clothing brand. The name is very clever. 2XU. Get it? Two times you. As in, two multiplied by you. That's sounds a bit weird though, doesn't it? I think UX2 sounds better. Either way, the meaning is clear; wear these clothes and you will be twice as good as normal. Amazing.

Anyway, more on the name later. For now, I'd like to bring your attention to this;

Friday, May 27, 2011

How not to get your bike stolen

I was at Melbourne Uni the other day and noticed these caged bikes. Poor bikes I thought. On closer inspection I found that this is a security measure. As yet, there's not much security but the informative signs explain that in a few weeks the area will only be accessible to card holders. To get a card, you pay $20 per year.

Personally, I wouldn't use anything like this. I like the ease of bike parking, particularly being able to ride right to the door of wherever I'm going. That said, it's good to see the uni doing something about the rampant bike theft that takes place there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's in a name?

Well, quite a lot if your name happens to be Lance Armstrong.

For starters, ‘Lance’ is an anagram of ‘Clean’. Lance may well want to add that to his defense down at the grand jury. Why not?

But if he does, he should beware. I’ve run some tests on ‘Lance Armstrong’ and come up with some pretty interesting findings. Let me demonstrate. All you need to know is bold terms are anagrams of ‘Lance Armstrong’.

Lance Armstrong was always the CLEAR STRONGMAN of the peloton. What he said, went. Don’t piss in the soup and whatnot. He claims he never doped. Heck, former UCI president Hein Verbrugge goes so far as to say he ‘never, never, never’ doped. That’s three ‘nevers’ folks. Count them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bikes Make Life Better

The Pledge from People for Bikes;
I am for bikes. I'm for long rides and short rides. I'm for commuting to work, weekend rides, racing, riding to school, or just a quick spin around the block. I believe that no matter how I ride, biking makes me happy and is great for my health, my community and the environment we all share. That is why I am pledging my name in support of a better future for bicycling—one that is safe and fun for everyone. By uniting my voice with a million others, I believe that we can make our world a better place to ride.
And the film...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Drugs in Cycling

I don't like Lance Armstrong and I believe he doped.

But it doesn't matter what I like or believe (in this case at least). Armstrong's fate now lies with a grand jury. What they believe certainly does matter.

I just watched 60 Minutes' interview with Tyler Hamilton. It makes for some viewing that is a combination of things that I can't really put my finger on; perhaps riveting, powerful, honest and in some ways purely fascinating. Lance Armstrong transcended the sport of cycling and yet here we are being fed descriptions of him lying on a bed getting his own blood transfused into him, injecting himself with EPO (which he and his teammates imaginatively labelled "Edgar Allen Poe") and supplying his fellow riders with doping products. It's salacious stuff to say the least, at the same time both unsurprising and surreal.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hipster City Cycle

I don't know if this (new iPhone) game is created as a nod to, or a piss-take of, hipsters. I suspect the latter but it matters not. As they say, it's all about the bike. Described as "a pixel-art bike race adventure", it certainly fits the hipster bill.

The aim of the game? " liberate hipster Binky McKee from the shackles of employment , and help him achieve his humble dream of becoming a penniless cycling legend."

Of course, you ride a fixie and track stands and not stopping are rewarded. I'm not much of a "casual gamer" so I'm not really qualified to judge this game. I like Tetris and Scrabble and that's about it. It seems pretty fun though. I'll be sure to dangle my phone in front of Miss Miss, who has been or is addicted to classics including but not restricted to Bejeweled, Flight Control, Valet Hero and Train Conductor. If she likes Hipster City Cycle we'll know that it's at least addictive. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

I should add that this game can be yours for the hipster-friendly price of $1.99.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chamaeleonidae Bicyclettoras

(Please read this post with a David Attenborough accent).

What we see here is very exciting. The Chamaeleonidae Bicyclettoras, or Chameleon Bicycle as it is commonly known, is an extremely rare breed made all the more extraordinary by its ability to blend into its environment and literally disappear. This colour-changing ability has evolved over many years as a theft-defense mechanism.

Unfortunately, this defense mechanism has been so successful that it has had several tragic side effects, all results of the fact that the species is essentially invisible. The first is that when people go into bike shops they do not see the Chameleon Bicycle on display, as it's invisible. This problem is partially countered by the fact that sales staff do generally attempt to sell the bikes. That said, it is not uncommon for staff to forget where the bikes are displayed, which almost always leads to a less evolved bicycle being purchased.

Another problem is the Chameleon Bicycle's image, or rather, lack thereof. More than one professional photographer has been driven to madness through vain attempts to capture an image of the bicycle that would be even close to suitable for an advertisement.

The fact that it is literally impossible to advertise this bicycle has reduced the Chameleon's numbers in two ways. Firstly, and not surprisingly, many people have simply never heard of it. Secondly, many of those that have heard of it are simply not interested as it doesn't contribute in any way to their image. In this day and age of style and materialism, the bicycle is for many an integral part of their 'look'. As the Chameleon has no apparent look, it is useless as any sort of fashion accessory.

The final, and perhaps most tragic side effect of the Chameleon's invisibility is that many people who do own one of these bicycles simply lose them. If I had a penny for every time I heard the sorry tale of the misplaced Chameleon, I would be a rich man. I once heard of a man who lost his Chameleon after a year of happy partnership. Heartbroken by his loss, he never rode again. He died several decades later having lived a full and rich life. It was when his house was being cleaned out that one of his sons found the Chameleon leaning up against the wall in the hallway. It had been there the whole time! As I say, tales of this nature are not uncommon.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Chameleon Bicycle is now facing extinction. In fact, there are thought to be only three or four hundred left in the wild, although of course it's hard to say for sure.

The photos below were taken earlier today and show a Chameleon in the wild.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gates of Eden Cycling Club

I saw this jersey on the way home today in Carlton. Someone had seen fit to display it to the world. Nothing like a retro jersey to show your love for cycling in an understated way. Nothing like displaying a piece of cycling paraphernalia from your window to show your love for cycling in an overstated way.

I have plenty of retro jerseys although rarely wear them...they're a bit hipster for me. Although, come to think of it I've never seen a hipster wear a retro cycling jersey so maybe that's not the right word. Contrived? Try hard? Not sure. It's probably just fine to wear one. I should ask The Sartorialist...he'd know.

Anyway, I'm all for displaying them on walls and in windows. The one pictured is from the Gates of Eden Cycle Club. I don't really know what that's a reference to. A quick google search, I mean, my extensive knowledge of pop culture reveals that it could be the Dylan song or the book by Ethan Cohen. Or maybe it's just some god-loving club. It matters not.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Angry, the Stupid and the Sanctimonious

Yesterday, The Age ran an article about a cyclist who got knocked off his bike on Wellington Street, Collingwood. Don't worry, he was fine save for a couple of bruised knees. The article goes on to discuss some of the risks on the road and the increasing number of cyclists. Same old story.

Another thing that was the same old story was the readers' comments under the article. I haven't read all 119 comments, just the first 43, but I think I've read enough to get a good taste of what's on offer.

Basically, there are five types of readers; the measured response; angry drivers; sanctimonious cyclists; just plain angry; and the idiot. I've compiled some samples of each of these below. Sorry about the spelling and grammar; I thought about correcting it all, but it somehow seems more fitting not to.

The measured response

The measured response is a rarely seen response that must be celebrated when come across. It recognises that no one group is at fault and that everyone must make an effort to improve safety on the roads. If you take one thing away from this post, take this attitude.

As both a cyclist and a driver, I see and experience much of what has been mentioned in this article. However I think it's important that ALL road users start taking better care on the road.

There are many bicycle & motorbike riders who do very stupid things on the road, but there are equally as many car & truck drivers who so the same.

Mars - May 16, 2011, 8:45AM

Angry drivers

Angry drivers are angry. They hate cyclists and think that anyone who rides a bike is one of either a: self-important lycra lout; left wing pinky; a hipster on a fixed-gear.

I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for cyclists. Firstly, they have attitudes. They somehow think they are better humans by riding instead of driving. Ok, it's fine if you are "saving the world", and "have an attitude" at the same time, but most of them don't obey traffic rules, especially in red lights, roundabouts, etc. And worse, many of them don't use lights, and don't use reflective clothing. I've come so close to hittng them especially in the dark and in the rain. Somehow, because they are "slim", they think they can manevour around traffic and intersection, creating dangers for everyone including themselves. When all cars become electric, and when everyone can generate his/her own electricity with solar panels and domestic windpower, cars will be as green as bicycles, and cyclists will no longer hold the "moral highground", but only "dangerous lowground".

Cyclists have attitudes and are dangers to themselves and everyone | Melbourne - May 16, 2011, 9:50AM

ok good ride to work but the law should be changed too, some ideas - pay rego any thing on the roads must be have rego, they should have .05 too, must wear bright clothing at all times, heavy fines , lose points on thier license if caught going through a red light, causing injurying to people who get off the tram's, not allowed to bring bikes on trains as they can ride to places. you want to be treated fairly so thier is some ides for the goverment council to think about. im sick of them everyday nearly get knocked or someone getting hurt for these wan kers dont follow the simple road rules they have

dom | melb - May 16, 2011, 9:00AM

I cannot tell you how many times I have nearly hit cyclists in peak hour. Mainly as a result of - no lights, dark clothing, weaving in and out of traffic, disobeying spped and road laws and thinking they are invincible. I dont want to hit a cyclist, but when they drive in front of my car and I am doing the speed limit, they will come off second best. Cyclists should be educated about safe ways to ride bikes, and dont blame all the drivers for the accidents.

Tim | Melbourne - May 16, 2011, 8:25AM

The sanctimonious cyclist

The sanctimonious cyclist thinks highly of him/herself. Some of them hate all drivers. Some of them hate cyclists who don’t ride by the book. Either way, they know they’re right and aren’t shy to let you know it.

As a cyclist, I would like to see a law that makes it illegal for cyclist to use roads when there is a cycle lane. I agree with M of Kensington - the idiots you see cycling on Footscray Rd when there is a perfectly good cycle lane off the road is amazing. I understand motorist frustration when they see cyclists do stupid things like that. I call on all cyclists to set an example for other cyclists including saying something to the morons who go through red lights.

Andrew | Melbourne - May 16, 2011, 8:41AM

Precisely! It's up to us, as cyclists, to set an example to each other, and bring peer pressure to bear on idiot red light runners. Every commuter cyclist has a responsibility to verbally abuse any fellow cyclist who disobeys the laws of the road.

Drivers run red lights all the time, and no one seems to mind. But if one cyclist does it, and all hell breaks loose. One way to begin to get some respect is to get 100% compliance.

Shane | Melbourne - May 16, 2011, 8:56AM

Hi Wally, are you saying drivers paying $625.00 for Rego and TAC should be happy to pay for those who contribute nothing to use public roads? Lets agree on the CBD being car free. Let cyclist pay for bicycle infrastructure. What would we have? **sound of crickets and the odd baby crying**

By the way, I cycle close to 100km a week on my Commencal Meta 4. I don't annoy car drivers or put myself in danger. Paths are paid for with our expensive Water Bill and Council Rates. And this, EVERYBODY pays for.

Surely those "angry cyclist" making comments do not own cars. Come on.

YJ | Off the Beaten Track - May 16, 2011, 9:26AM

(I'm pretty sure YJ was a bit pissed off that he couldn't put a link to a picture of his bike on The Age website, so I've put one here so you can check out how awesome his Commencal Meta 4 is...oh, and by the way YJ, the Meta 4 is no longer current, get with the program man.)

Just Angry

These people kind of just hate everyone. They're awesome.

I am a car driver, bike rider and I have never had a motor bike. Very aware of bike riders, but can't stand gung ho the road is mine, get out of my way abuse that comes from a certain group of bike riders. Bike lanes are a good thing, stay in them and off the major roads. Motorbike riders can go to hell. You seem to feel that you have a god given right to speed, weave in and out of traffic and that we all must be able to see you no matter where you are or might be 2 seconds later.

Yorkia | melbourne - May 16, 2011, 8:43AM

Shifting priorities is a positive authoritarian move.. One way the government can make the plight of the most vulnerable road uses (motorcyclists, pushbike riders and pedestrians) better would be to give all road uses the same experience. If people had to spend 2-3 years on a motorcycle or scooter before they can get a car license, attitudes would change. This would also have other benefits for road safety. The cage driving hoon problem would significantly drop. And as the article pointed out if their were more Motorcycles and push bikes on the road the will be more visible. But authoritarian changes are not going to happen, until the governments, are forced to do so.
So in the meantime the individual must make changes to their own road behaviors.
Question for motorcyclists: How many of you have a lead wrist? (Be honest to yourself)
Question for bicyclists and pedestrians: How many of you wear your I pods whilst riding or walking on the street? ( be honest to yourself)
And to the Lycra covered bicycle gangs out there, does the arrogance cease after you put your multi-thousand dollar weekend toy on the back of you 4WD?
The individual must change attitudes before the dream of government change.

Lonerider | Dandenong Ranges - May 16, 2011, 9:16AM

The Idiot

This is a special section just for "Chrish" (Chris? Cherish? Don't know, but definitely stupid).

It's the stupid bikes they ride! Particularly the handlebars. They're racing bikes, designed to get the bum up and head down. This greatly reduces both the rider's field of vision, and their height, making them harder to be seen by drivers. These style bikes should be banned from our roads except for legitimate training and competitions. The irony is you rarely see riders using lower grip on the handlebars, but even with the higher grip, the head is too low and too restricted in its movement. Commuter and casual riding bikes need handlebars that aren't too wide (an issue with the mountainbike style handlebars) and allow the rider's head to be high.

Chrish | Vic - May 16, 2011, 9:01AM

The End

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review - My Bike

My Bike is one of those books that is, despite a level of obscurity, a seminal piece of writing in the canon of cycling literature. Published only once, in 1975, the novella not only explores but also pushes the boundaries of a variety of social and cultural mores. It also had a little known yet profound impact on one of Australia's most dramatic political episodes.

Despite on the surface appearing overly simplistic, a closer reading reveals a litany of themes that force the reader to consider ideas of profound complexity and import. In fact, this story was initially a 1,000 word novel that would have no doubt found itself a place in history alongside such great works as War and Peace, The Catcher in the Rye, and Great Expectations. Alas, it was not to be.

Gough Whitlam, the prime minister at the time of the work's completion, was a big fan of the novel. In fact, he was partly responsible for its completion, as his government funded the author's expenses. Many believe his approval of the purchase of the painting Blue Poles in 1973 led to his downfall. What has not been widely publicised is the fact that his funding of My Bike was at least as damaging to his position. While it never created such a media storm and public backlash as the purchase of the painting, many politicians saw the themes of My Bike as too subversive and dangerous.

Such was the disdain for the book in the halls of Canberra that most political historians now see its imminent publication as the major catalyst that led to Whitlam's sacking by the then governor-general, Sir John Kerr. One of Malcolm Fraser's first acts as prime minister was to ban the book's publication under archaic censorship laws.

Incensed by this action, the author decided to re-write the book in the form you see below. The simple language and illustrations were successfully used as a ploy to have the novella classified as educational material. As a result, the work passed through alternate censorship channels. The educational censors failed to see that this work was in fact a re-write of the recently banned novel.

It was not until the novella was printed, published and sold to schools throughout the country that the relevant parties realised that the wool had been pulled over their eyes. In a rage, the government had the author sent off to a labour camp never to be heard from again, with all records of his identity permanently deleted.

Despite their best efforts, the authorities were unable to find and burn every copy of My Bike. Being the owner of one of these surviving copies, and despite exposing myself to considerable risk, I see at is my responsibility and duty as both a journalist and an Australian to release the novella on the internet so its contents may never be suppressed again.

So, it is with both a heavy heart and a sense of duty that I present the work to you. I don't feel it's necessary to elaborate on the themes as I trust you, my dear reader, will be able to decipher them for yourself.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Le Dossier Secret de l'UCI

So, the big news in road cycling is yesterday's UCI leak which saw a secret list rating the pros' levels of suspicion as dopers, from 0 (no suspicion) to 10 (very suspicious). The dossier lists 198 cyclists who took part in the 2010 Tour de France and was first published by the French paper, L'Équipe. Plenty has been written about this. As always, The Inner Ring offers an excellent overview.

Here's the list for your perusal:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Cycling Arena: Beauty and Tragedy

One of the beautiful and unique things about cycling is the arena in which it takes place. The roads offer up a plethora of kilometres, variously winding, climbing, familiar, snaking, rough, windswept, exhilarating, lung-busting, calming, unknown, inspiring, descending, beautiful, relaxing, smooth, shaded...

The cycling arena knows no numbered seats, or any seats for that matter, save for the ground or the camping chair you bring along with you. There are no turnstiles or hotdog vendors. If it rains, you get wet. If you want to touch your heroes, there are no security guards or barriers to stop you. If you stand close enough, you will be sprayed with their sweat.

You don't pay to see cycling.  There is no one to pay.  No one owns the roads any more than you.  In this way, cycling is more a part of its fans, and fans more a part of cycling, than any other sport.

After World War II, the cities and roads of Europe were in a serious state of disrepair. People were poor and had little to eat. The wind had well and truly been taken out of everyone's sails, "winners" and "losers" alike. One thing that gave people hope was cycling. While most racing was halted during the war, it very quickly resumed soon after. Cyclists such as Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, whose careers straddled the war, picked up where they left off and gave people a show. And it was a show people could enjoy without paying a penny, or a lire, or a franc. The very stars whose exploits were described in excited tones over the wireless were riding on the same bombed, cracked, shelled roads that everyone else had to use.

These men inspired. Sure, they didn't rebuild Europe, but they helped and they gave people some entertainment along the way.

Cycling has changed little since those halcyon days. Of course bikes are lighter, there are helmets and race radios. Training and nutrition have advanced. Average speeds have increased slightly. But, for all intents and purposes, the essence of the sport has endured. Fans still line the roads in their hundreds and thousands. And if they can't make it, they watch on the modern day equivalent of the wireless.  Cyclists still train more than most of us could imagine. Racing is still frantic, nationalistic and political.

The arena of cycling is still the open roads that belong to us all and it is these roads that make cycling everything that it is. Instead of being cocooned in a familiar environment that can be mastered, memorised and tamed, cyclists are forced to adapt to their ever-changing arena. They must make split-second decisions that require skill and bravery.

For them, their field, their pitch, their court, their ground is almost always completely new and unfamiliar. This is what makes cycling beautiful. It is also what makes cycling dangerous and why, every so often, cyclists tragically die.

This morning I woke to the sad and shocking news of the death of two cyclists. One, a young Australian I had never heard of succumbed to injuries he sustained four years ago. The other, a Belgian entering the prime of his career as a professional. These deaths remind us that with the beauty of cycling comes inherent risks. Indeed, this beauty and these risks come hand-in-hand, both originating from the same thing.

The sad truth is, as long as there is cycling there will always, occasionally, be death. That is the nature of the environment that we choose as our arena. I didn't know Shamus Liptrot and I didn't know Wouter Weylandt. Nonetheless, I was struck by a deep sadness at the news that they had both died at the hands of this beautiful sport.

If you'd like to make a donation to Wouter Weylandt's family, you can do so by purchasing a t-shirt here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Take a Seat

I just watched a documentary on ABC's iView. It was about a British gent named Dominic Gill who cycled form the northernmost tip of North America, down the west coast to the southernmost tip of South America.

Big deal, you might say, although you wouldn't because it's a bloody long way. But if you did, add to this feat the fact that Dominic completed this little journey on a tandem. Why? To meet people along the way of course. And meet people he did; approximately 270 of them.

Monday, May 2, 2011


There's been a lot of talk about the Copenhagen-style bike lanes in Melbourne, most of it negative.  People tend to find them too narrow and positioned on roads that have a lot of driveways.  Other concerns include having to merge with turning traffic and car occupants coming and going from cars.

All these are legitimate concerns however I think if there were more of these bike lanes around everyone would become more comfortable with them.  I think one of the biggest things to realise with these lanes is that you can't ride quickly.  They are Copenhagen-style after all; in Copenhagen, people ride slowly...they cruise.

I know that my less confident cycling friends feel much safer on these lanes.  That said, if you're a cyclist that likes to ride quickly, then you should probably consider going another way.

Here's a little video (and my first foray into investigative journalism) from Albert St. in East Melbourne.  The city-bound lane, shown in this video, is really good.  The outbound lane less so as there are numerous driveways and it is downhill, so cyclists can easily accumulate speed.

With more thought and planning I think these bike lanes could help Melbourne on its quest to Copenhagenize.