Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tour de Timor, part 3

Stage 5

I realise that I lied slightly when I said that I slept soundly all night except for my 2am pisses. While I did indeed sleep well, I didn’t always sleep soundly. This was mainly due to the chickens. While not overly knowledgeable about country things, a fact supported by my inability to convince the horses to tow me up the hill during stage one, I was always fairly confident that chickens (or is it roosters?) did the cocker-doodle-doo thing at or around sunrise. It turns out that this is not the case, or at least not so in East Timor. In East Timor, they cockered and they doodled and they dooed all night long. They may well have been doing it all day too, but I didn’t notice. It’s not something you notice in the day but it sure as hell is something that gets through to you during sleepy time. Still, despite these rude chickens, I still slept well. I can’t help but feel they were very healthy chickens. Again, I don’t know much about farm affairs but surely such loud protestations are the sign of a healthy chook.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tour de Timor, part 2

Welcome to Illiamar/Illiomar! Thank you...

Stage 3

I awoke on the morning of Stage 3 relieved that I hadn't succumbed to some mysterious disease whose only symptom was Pinot-coloured piss. Speaking of waking, my body had well and truly fallen into line. Every night I was exhausted by 8.30 or 9 and would fall soundly asleep. This was despite only having a crappy yoga mat as a mattress (Pierre, if you're reading this, I am grateful for the lend!). Unfortunately, since I was drinking so much, I did have to go wee-wee once each night, usually at around 2am. Otherwise I would sleep through. In the morning, I would go immediately to the toilet and have the most satisfying and glorious shit. Then, after waiting my turn in the breakfast queue, I would eat an enormous breakfast including bacon, eggs, beans, noodles, bread rolls, cereal, cakes, juice and other things too. I had similarly large meals at lunch and dinner. We weren't allowed seconds but we were allowed as much as we could heap on our plate, so heap I did. I would have made my father proud if he were an engineer or a professional binge-eater. A highlight of dinner was the chicken, which had obvious Portuguese influences. I always put the chicken on top, as its shape renders it unsuitable for foundations. Soon after dinner, I would go to bed, and the process would repeat. It all worked like clockwork.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tour de Timor, part 1

You can’t tell exactly how people will respond when you tell them you’re going to live in Cambodia. But you can be pretty confident they won’t say, “Oh, great. That sounds lovely”, or “Ah, I’ve always wanted to go there.” It’s not like if you’re off to Paris or Prague. I’ve had countless responses, but there are some fairly common themes that seem to pop up, such as, “Oh, why?” and “Oh, be careful” and “Oh, isn’t it dangerous there? Isn’t there some guy called Pol Pot or something?” always accompanied with raised eyebrows and a slightly tilted head.

The entire race route was adorned with decorations such as this in Dili

It is true that Cambodia was very dangerous for almost all of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Lots of people were killed. You’ve probably heard about it. If not, go and do some reading; start with the Cold War, that will take you into the Vietnam War, then move on to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Way Back Home" by Danny MacAskill

Filmed late last year in locations around Scotland, this Danny "MegaSkill" MacAskill film is simply awesome. What's more, it doesn't feature the riders, or in this case rider, being a dickhead for the camera; an all too common scene in bike videos. Just good riding, some nice songs and stunning camera work.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Off to the Tour de Timor!

Tomorrow, I'm heading off on what I am confident will be a pretty special experience. The third Tour de Timor takes place from the 11th-16th of September in a little place called Timor-Leste.

If I'm to be honest, I'm also confident it will be pretty hard. In fact, I am shitting myself a bit. I have never done a multi-day stage race before. I don't think I have ever ridden 550km in a week before. I am not very good at riding up hills and I have spent the last six weeks training in Phnom Penh where there is nary a mound in sight, let alone a mountain, or even a hill. And, we have to get up at 5am each day (except one day which is 4am!).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shop Talk with Shop Guy #3

Welcome to Shop Talk with Shop Guy* #3. We can't show you Shop Guy's face because he's a shop guy. Today, Shop Guy gives us the low-down on the 2012 range. And instead of telling us that everything is 250% lighter, stiffer and stronger, Shop Guy just tells the truth. Can you handle it?

2012 is a not here yet on the calendar but it is well and truly here for those of us in the bike industry. While some bikes and bits are starting to turn up in stores now there is still much to anticipate in the coming months. While most brands are promising that their products are lighter, stiffer, faster, more compliant or prettier for 2012 generally there is no great revolution from the bike industry in the coming year. There are some cute ideas and neat tricks but there is nothing that makes the bike you rode in 2011 obsolete.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Scrotums! (and things)

This is what cycling does to people
As it's Father's Day, I thought what better topic to discuss than scrotums. After all, you can't be a father without one. You could almost say that fathers and scrotums go hand-in-hand, although you probably wouldn't.