Monday, February 28, 2005

Unfocused Brainwaves... Early Morning Farewell Part II

I looked at my camera today and saw that I haven't really taken that many pictures. I have over a hundred random shots of faces, landscapes and cities, but there are so many gaps, so many things I'm not going to be able to show people back home because I either didn't have the camera, or was too busy to get a picture.

Take Nelson for example. Amazing area, ringed with mountains and beaches, very picturesque. However. I was on a mission. A mission of four-day survival. My routine (aside from new years) was get up, drink mad amounts of coffee, eat, spend the day racing and riding, eat again, watch the news and go to sleep. Rinse and repeat. I was so tired most of the time it would have been an enormous effort just to leave the house. I saw some amazing things out on the courses, but it would have been a little odd to sit up in mid-gasp, reach into my back pocket and snap a lovely photo at 80k an hour screaming down some twisty descent. Ah well.

Wanganui is mostly my fault. I have very few pictures from Wanga-Vegas because I left rather suddenly. Opportunity called, Auckland racing and training was to be done, so I jetted almost without warning one day, much earlier than I had previously planned. Plus my batteries died. The one day that I did go out with my camera, I only got of a few shots on the way to the beach before it decided to call it an early day. For shizzle.

I guess the big picture (pardon the chauncey-ism) is that I was too busy just being here to worry about cameras. Things to do and places to go. People to see. Rides to ride and food to eat. And on that note this summer/winter was incredible.

I spent the coldest months of the year, (months I'm usually unmotivated to ride and bogged down in school) racing and riding in shorts and a jersey. I wore armwarmer and legwarmers maybe 4 times: warming up for races in Invercargill, the bottom of the world. I can't say that I've ever overtrained myself before this year, but I was rotten and injured by the end of January after 2 months of solid racing. You know what they say, you never know where the line is untill you've gone over it. That set me back by a few weeks, but I'm not worried. August is a long way away, and one of the biggest things I figured out this trip was one of the simplest lessons of them all. How to be a bike racer. How to get up every day and go training. Every day. Without fail. Lack of motivation and New Years's partying be damned, time to go. I've always had some excuse to not go training, whether it was school, work, weather, being tired from school or work, etc. These last few months I haven't had any of those available, and I feel better than I ever have on a bike. The challenge is going to be carrying that work ethic over into April when I go back to work and school.

For now I'm just thinking short term. Get packed, go ride, bask in a last day of sunshine, get to the airport on time, get home, get unpacked, back to racing on Sunday. The story never ends for an adolescent-minded adult like myself. On to the next day, making some kind of progress toward idealist ambitions like professional athletics, rock star journalism, or who knows what else. I'm not worried, just packing and enjoying the day. DT

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Goodbye to Piha

It's one of those Saturdays where the sky streteches coast to coast like a big blue perfect dome, and it's time to ride once again. This Saturday's a rest day, a day that I'm supposed to take easy, drink coffee and roll around for an hour or so.

Ten minutes into the ride I get hungry. I realize, hey, I haven't eaten anything yet today. SO. To the coffee shop I go.

Double flat white and an eggs benedict later a couple of local rider-types I know from races show up, drink coffee with me and chat about bike related things. When they suggest "you want to come with us?" it's a bit of a dilemma. I'd really like to ride on my own today. I'd really like to take it easy. But.... I'm not Weak... am I? Of course not, I'll go.

Four hours later I'm getting agitated. My inner self (that annoying little dork) says "dammit I'm tired, this is not what I was counting on... you tricked me." I'm on my way home, a mere hour from the couch and a PB and J sandwich, but it still feels like the world is trying to punish me. Someone (a big someone) is telling me what I can do with my impulsive nature. Long story short, my one hour easy spin turns into 5 hours of Training. BUT... Things can only get better from here...

And they do. The call comes through just after I'm home and soon after the old stationwagon full of rowdy bike racers pulls up to the curb. I'm still a little shot from the morning and pretty uncomfortable, smashed in the backseat of this againg Audi for what seems like forever. Out the windows the suburbs give way to unstoppable uninterupted green, and now I know where we're headed. Smiles all around, Piha is a few minutes away.
By 4:00 we're standing on the beach while the whitewashed sounds of Salmonella Dub (a fine NZ electro/ska/reggae act) wash over myself, my mates and a lazilly dancing crowd of several hundred. This beach we're taking over, it's the beach you see in dreams of sunny paradise. It's banked on all sides by palm and jungled hills, the Waitakere Ranges. Lion Rock stands tall just barely off shore like a hundred story tower of birds and stone. This is a place that is obviously a mission to get to. 45 minutes of driving through twisted, scary jungle roads keeps the beachgoing population well below California levels, but more striking is the surrounding valleys. Every direction your head turns, it's gorgeous. It's deep green, sand or sky blue. Even the light shorebreak waves, a perfect sky blue. Palm trees and deep ferns sway just off the beach in a light offshore breeze. Salmonella Dub has thier soundstacks pointed right out into the ocean, so we go from saltwater swims to sundried daydreams under the influence of basslines and soaring trumpets.

Another afternoon melts into lazy evening on a postcard beach, and by now I feel like I haven't ridden for weeks. Legs feel like new, lungs feel like new, brain fires at an alarming rate. Drifting in and out of sleep reclined on a driftwood log, I half people-watch, half panic. Everything familiar seems far away, as it is, and it's all at once unsettling and comfortable. I didn't know these people 3 months ago, and now they treat my like I've been here all along. I'm completely out of place, but this enormous city feels like a second home. Makes no sense, but I'm getting used to it. Just as I start packing to come home, I'm getting used to it. I'll be back at Piha someday, I'm sure of that. Only a matter of time, but Goodbye For Now, my new favorite beach. Farewell Piha, I'll miss you.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wild Twillight Zone Happenings At Incredible Velocity

So I was checking my flight times today and found something pretty sweet. I'm flying back in time. Ever had one of those days where you go "GAWD! I just wish I could have the last couple hours of my life back!!"

I can say that on Wednesday, and it'll HAPPEN. Yes, folks that's right, I'm flying into some crazy twillight-zone vortex that allows me to leave Auckland at 10:30pm on Wednesday the 2nd, and arrive in Los Angeles at 1:25pm on Wednesday the 2nd... Sweet. International time-zones? What? Don't wreck the party, it's a International Time Warp.

What do you do in a situation like that? We're not just talking about numbers on a spinning plate here, people. What happens when we see a backwards sunset over the Pacific? Chasing down the sunset like a beast, passing it like it's standing still, then watching it catch up and fall over Los Angeles like a wasted deer with a broken back? Will some crazy beatnick hippy's head explode from some kind of awful time-thought overload? What happens when a couple hundred people in the grips of free chardonnay and warm cordon-blue entrees hurtle through near-space at a bazillion miles an hour into the past?

What's the solution? Granted, a majority of people won't give it the slightest thought, but some of us are a little easier to frazzle. So what do we do here? Simple actually:


That's it right there, that's the secret. You're looking at thirteen hours inside a metal tube, what else are you going to do? Read Sky Mall? Watch some evil crap like Spy Kids 2? Think about the wierdness of travelling through time untill your brain blows out of your ears? No way. It's party time. Midnight O clock, just let me hook up my iPod to the intercom systems, turn off that stupid seatbelt sign and get down with your bad self, because we're travelling through time at incredible speeds, and how often do you get to do that? DT

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fruit Golf, Sport of Champions

NEW SPORT ALERT. Fruit Golf. Who's game?

Fruit Golf was born on the tail-end of the summer in the guise of Rest Day Activity. Necessity is the mother of invention, and boredom is the mother of stupidity. And fruit golf. This is what happens when international bike bums take a day off. Rules as follows:

First. Gather a group of people who don't play golf. Real athletes work best for this. Athletes tend to be rediculously competetive and completely unskilled save for thier chosen sport.

Second. Start the grill. Large one if possible.

Third. Gather all the old fruit and vegetables that won't be missed, also taking care to empty the refrigerator and the freezer of any meat and frosty beverages.

Fourth. Meat goes on the grill, fruit goes in the yard. Enjoy a frosty beverage.

Fifth. Yard must have at least one wall of vegetation (or other similarly solid thing) at least 10 feet high. That's three meters or so for all you metric-inclined geniuses.

Sixth. Obtain a golf club and eye protection. Irons are best, go for the 5 or 6 if possible. Mirrored aviators are also key.

Seventh. As Mel Gibson said in some lame M. Night Shalamalam movie about aliens: Swing away. Shots are judged on shrapnel accuracy, shrapnel size, shrapnel distance, and swing style. If you look like Tiger back when he won stuff, more points to you. If you look like some spaztic crackhead with a metal stick (like most of us do), that's negative points. Old avocados are the cornerstone of the sport, as when struck by a 5 iron they burst into a million green peices, covering everything (and everyone) within a 30 foot radius, while the pit continues toward the wall of vegetation, acting as the perfect marker for accuracy. Eat as much as possible, talk about who's faster and who plays better fruit golf, enjoy a frosty beverage.

Ninth. It's getting dark, so scour for more fruit, play another round and argue about who won over more food and frosty beverages. If negotiations fail, resort to hand-to-hand combat.

UNRELATED SIDE NOTE: In future Winter Olympic figure skating judging fiascos, I say let them duke it out. Figure skaters are built kinda like bike racers (that's sad for us), and bike racers are seemingly incapable of actually hurting each other without weapons (or bikes). Skaters have similar upper-body strength, so why not? What's the worst that could happen? What could possibly go wrong? DT

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Gonzo, Down and Out In Aspen

"My life has been the polar opposite of safe, but I am proud of it and so is my son, and that is good enough for me. I would do it all over again without changing the beat, although I have never reccomended it to others. That would be cruel and irresponsible and wrong, I think, and I am none of those things.
Whoops, that's it, folks. We are out of time. Sorry. Mahalo. " -Hunter S Thompson

Last published words of the first and only Gonzo Journalist. Eerily enough these were the words I read not two hours before learning of the death of Hunter S. Thompson. Last night in his Aspen compound, Thompson put an abrupt period on the most brutally crazed life and career in modern writing. According to his son Juan, Dr. Thompson fatally shot himself. Age 65.

If you're looking for cycling news, or comments life on the other side of the planet, you won't find it today. An influential person in my life died tonight, so this rant is all literary snarl and babble. I'll be back to my normal self later, but tonight it's story time.

I first picked up a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at the tender age of 16. This was about the time that I discovered Fight Club by Chuck Pahlaniuk (thanks mom) and these two books had a major impact. Immediately. At the time I was struggling with the idea that I wasn't good at anything. Too small for football. Not smart (or patient enough) for Math or Science. Music? No good. Painting? Worthless. Drawing? Just as pathetic. Writing? Well, I can't write like Stienbeck or Kingsolver (nor do I want to), and newspaper writing is dry and boring so looks like that's out as well. Right?

Enter Pahlaniuk and Thompson. What initially struck me about thier work was the subject matter. Any 16 year-old suburbian rat would get jacked about the up-front, no-bullshit, uncensored manner that these guys talked about drugs, violence and sex, those taboo of taboo subjects to a pubescent lad. "This stuff is better than an R rated movie! It's so graphic!" Then, halfway through Fear and Loathing I suddenly Got It. The drugs and violence might have got me interested, but what kept it mind-blowing was the style these guys had. The way they wrote, not just what they wrote about. They didn't need "outlines" or "acts" or "proper structures." They wrote like they thought, at a million miles an hour. You had to keep up or get f&#ed, these guys weren't teaching to the bottom of the class and I loved it. I started to really enjoy writing for English assignments, purely to see how far I could push myself. I found my voice, and I spent the rest of High School seeing how hard I could write without getting failed, and it payed off. By the end of Sophomore year I could ace every single essay without fail and practically without thought. By my Junior year creative assignments and short stories became these sprawling creatures jammed out in a couple of hours the morning of the due dates, pure train of thought. Final drafts were edited down to a manageable 13 pages or so. I spent all class periods writing in cheap $1 notebooks, filling volume after volume with whatever and ever, amen. This did little for my grades, but wonders for my head.

I went on to read The Rum Diary, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and (more recently) Kingdom of Fear. I re-read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas several times, and polished off Pahlaniuk's entire collection, moving on to Keroac, Leary and on and on. This isn't to say these were the only things I read. I would regularly be going through 3 books at a time (thanks ADD), usually instead of homework. You can have your Friends reruns and your Survivor. I'll hang out with Christopher Moore, Tim Robbins, Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers and Dr. Gonzo himself. So when it came time for my high-school counselor to ask me what I wanted to major in (assuming I made it into a University), I barely hesitated before saying "journalism." Like I'd do anything else. I passed my math classes by a thread (and by cheating). Science wasn't much better. I wasn't motivated enough to sell stuff I didn't care about, so business was out. I like writing, it's my thing, and I can largely thank HST for that.

Say what you want about his books glorifying reckless behavior, drug culture and general lawlessness. You're mostly right. To me, however, he wasn't babbling on about drugs (well, not entirely anyway), he was trying to extend what Keroac and the beat poets were hinting at. He was trying to find that free, open lifestyle of "life as it comes to you." Enjoying the moment. He was living the most he possibly could, and he didn't like the idea of being held back by authority figures and social rules. Scratch that. He loved rules, he just loved to break them, that's how he felt alive. Kept jumping out from around corners yelling "DOES THIS FREAK YOU OUT?!?" Kept telling The Man to shove it and kept going with his own flow. I certainly wouldn't choose his path, but for this basic philosophy I can at least respect him.

Hunter S Thompson didn't single-handedly change journalism (like he might claim), but he certainly did influence many a writer. I enjoyed his stuff. Still do. If I become "a writer" I'll be able to list him near the top of my influences. And that's really the point. His articles in Rolling Stone (which I ended up reading from archives 20 years after they were published) and Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail turned me on to journalism as Art, not just Formula.

I can't say that I'm surprised that he's dead. It's like your ancient great-great aunt finally passing away: you know it had to happen sooner or later, it's just the finality of the thing that's heavy. It's more of a surprise that his drug-addled body lasted as long as it did. Who knows how long he would have gone if he hadn't pulled the plug himself? That's something that was always consistent in his books, that question, "how long can we go like this, how long can we maintain?" Now you know. No matter how strong the body is, if the brain can't hold out, the whole thing goes down the crapper. Simple as that.

"If the greatest mania of all is passion: and if I am a natural slave to passion: and if the balance between my brain and my soul and my body is as wild and delicate as the skin of a Ming vase-
Well, that explains a lot of things, doesn't it?" -HST from Kingdom of Fear

Ok, I feel much better now. Cheers, Hunter. Your legacy's safe with us. Mahalo. DT

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday Night Fights

Oh it's Friday night again, it's time for track racing fever, chaos on a concrete oval. Tonight's schedule of events is a beautiful thing, with Kierins and a 3 lap handicap to keep us fast-twitch freaks happy. Tim Gudsell and Peter Latham (NZ team pursuit olympians) decided to come up to dirty-old Manukau for some quality racing before they bust off to the World Championships, so the pre-race whispers and chatter was all Tim and Pete madness.

What gears are they on? What training did they do today? Are they fresh or tired? Will they sneak around and win everything or just go out for a workout? What's the status? What's the plan?

Fortunately Walker and I didn't have to sit through any of that teeth-chattering and senseless blather because 20 minutes before the races started we were still sitting on the parking-lot/freeway. Like I said before, warmups are for sissies, and it's a good thing we're not sissies, because we arrived at the track as our Kierin heats were lining up. Awesome. No problem, I'll just warm up behind the motor during the first 4 laps.
And I did.
It was sweet.
After the motor pulled off I picked a killer spot on 3rd wheel, waited for people to get tired and jetted around on the blue line to secure my spot in the Big Man Final.

Then I almost puked.
It was sweet.

NEXT UP. Elimination. I can never get the same result twice when it comes to these puppies. I can win one on day A and get dead last on day B against the same people. Chalk it up to inexperience, bad luck or stupidity (most likely), either way this one wasn't pretty. We started with a rediculous amount of people and by the time I got punked there was still quite a few, so whatever. Damn the Man.

And then.. Handicap time. Handicaps are kinda lame but I seem to do pretty well at them, so yippee ki-yay for that. Once again I benifit from looking ass-tired and hairy-legged and I don't have to ride on scratch. Yessss... I was close enough to scratch (and my start was bad enough) that the back-markers caught within about a half a lap with 2 to go, so I hit the panic button, threw down some power, rolled up next to Wacky Walker (who was leading out the final dash like a dog with it's ass on fire), pulled a sweet stall manuever on Adam Coker (big-legged sprinter guy.... we're not the best of friends) and waltzed into the final with Starr Child.

The final included some guys with over-developed quads as well as the two wee little Orange lads, the previously mentioned T&P and a bunch of other rider guys. It was hard. It was chaotic. I don't remember much aside from the thought "pedal harder." Eventually I also had the thought "Holy crap I'm gonna win" as I went for the money from about 5 back in the last lap, but got stalled and downright out-powered by two big boys of the toestrap and 11 second 200m variety. Bummer deal but beating T&P was good for the ego.

Couple minutes of breathless heaving and shivering went by and we rode back to the line for the last Kierin of the night. This would be another Big Guys vs. little Orange Guys affair, with Walker the Stalker and I drawing 1 and 2. Walker took the initiative and led it out, and I made the excellent decision of getting put in an inescapable box by some sasquatch on a scarily creaky bike. Then more big bastards went streaming over the top of Sasquatch boy and the final sprint went off without me, leaving me with power to spare and a head full of adrenalized fustration.

DAMN THE MAN!!! I bellowed.

A decent night indeed, a few dollars in the pocket and another day of training in the books. All the way home I thrashed around in my seatbelted confines, yelling about kierins and sasquatches. I was ready to fight someone right there and then... Come on man, pull the car over, I'll do it, I will! That guy right there, he's mine, he'll never know what hit him! 120k an hour back into town to a blazing soundtrack of endorphins and 80s electro, I was ready for action. Ready for whatever was bound to happen, whatever mission was left in these last few days of summer abroad. Calming slightly, I cleared up to the fact that my mission was tommorow, tonight's goal just steak and sleep because tommorow my mission is to make sure that come Northern Hemisphere summer I don't get out-powered or out-done. . . DT

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Another Reason Not To Watch The Olympics

Everyone looks forward to the Olympics. The fanfare, the chest-thumping, the accidents and the women's beach volleyball... oh the beach volleyball... Right. Anyway. Sure, the Olympics are great but the last few have been absolute crap and a half and we can put the blame square on the shoulders of NBC. Those bastards. They're ruining everyone's favorite sporting event with more commercials and more 'warm and fuzzy' athlete bios than actual SPORTS COVERAGE. It's rediculous. There are pre-event analysis shows, post-event analysis shows, intermission analysis shows, specials on Olaf Tonkle the Belarussian dead-lifter, who came back to competition fro a tragic shaving accident last week, too many talking heads, and hours and hours of The Man trying to sell you Coke and McDonalds.

Because of all this very important analysis and hawking, any event that isn't a high scool sport gets pushed to the 3am spot for 10 minutes of highlights (like cycling). Because of this, cyclists haven't really been captivated by the Olympics quite as much as runners and beach volleyball players.

It's only getting worse.

Because we need room for all those commercials and analysis, the IOC seems to think that in order to add a sport (like BMX), they need to chop a huge part of the track cycling. Hope you enjoyed the points race, because word is, it's going down the tubes. It's been an ugly rumour since Athens, and now it's being reported in more and more news organizations. The announcement is supposed to be made after Worlds, and after that all the endurance trackies will have is pursuit and team pursuit for Olympic glory. Granted this is great for BMX, but this is a huge setback for track cycling, and one that I don't understand in the least. At the recent LA World Cup, the reports from the velodrome said the crowd was going nuts through the entire points race because Colby looked like he could win it. Every sprint, the crowd would be loosing it, pounding on stuff, yelling like banshees, and yet the IOC says that the points race is "too confusing." If it's too confusing, why not put the scratch race in it's place? First accross the line wins, how hard is that?

Seems to me that track racing is at an important crossroads. It's gaining in popularity, some stars are making themselves known, and if the ruling bodies do something about it then the sport grows. If they ignore it, track racing continues on its downward slide, and we loose one of the most exciting (and spectator-friendly) disciplines in the sport. Just seems to me that certain parties could make a fair chunk of change on track racing at the elite level, but no one's biting. Oh well. Guess I won't be a points racer then... Scratch that ambition... DT

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cricket Worship and The Ethics of A Night Out In the Big City

As this mad international summer/winter comes to a close I can't stop learning new things about this place, like a kid who won't go inside when his mom calls for dinner, just keeps turning over rocks looking for bugs. One of the more intersting things I've noticed recently is the way Kiwis treat thier sports stars.

Downtown Auckland after 10 lights up with nightclubs and corner-pubs pumping music and throwing people all over town. Hanging out in one such establishment with the boys one night, I couldn't help but notice a couple of big 6 foot plus dudes who looked very familiar. Are those guys in a movie I saw somewhere? Maybe in some band of unusually tall people? Maybe on the TV... wait... thats IT! Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills were here, enjoying thier Friday night and a few frosty beverages.

For an explanationof why this is cool I'll need to go back a few months to where I mentioned that Cricket is a very popular sport here. I didn't like it at first, mainly because I didn't understand it. It takes some watching, but once you get to the rules it's pretty cool. Beats the snot out of baseball and basketball with an extra-large wicket. ANYWAY. The Black Caps are NewZealand's national team. The best of the best, and everybody knows them. These guys played a charity match against the World 11 (can you guess it?!? that's RIGHT! Best 11 in the world, ding ding!) and completely smashed them. It was all over the news, very big stuff, very exciting to watch. I watched all three games, all three hours with Breezy's brother Saul, cheering for the hometeam like a crazyperson. Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills are two of the star bowlers (like pitchers in a baseball game) who played a huge part in winning the series. This is like if Kobe Bryant and Nolan Ryan were hanging out in the local pub in the States. They'd get mobbed.

People watch these guys all summer, buy jerseys with thier names on them, pretend to be them in pickup matches... Vettori in particular is a recognizable guy with his trademark curly frosted hair and snazzy glasses. Mills is easy to pick out because he's huge and a little neanderthal-ish. Everyone knows who they are, but no one mobs them. They're allowed to just be people. Granted a couple girls run up and take pictures (mostly with Vettori, he seems to be a bit of a hearthrob), one guy went for an autographed napkin, but there wasn't the type of star worship you might see in America where someone suddenly yells "HEY, THAT'S BENICIO DEL TORO!!" and everone pounces.

Maybe they just don't realize... Hmm... I leaned over to a couple of people who were minding thier own business and said "hey, isn't that.."
"Oh.. cool."
"So do you watch cricket then?"
"Yeah, man. Mills is a killer, did you see how in the World 11 match how he..."

Not three days later, riding down the road with Walker, we see a couple runners jogging through downtown Newmarket past crowds of people.
"You know who that was?" he asks as we ride past.
"Nope, Hamish Carter."
That's right. Hamish Carter, Olympic gold medallist in the triathlon, an absolute hero around here, a guy people see literally every day on TV commercials and print ads, can run in peace through town like he's just another guy. Once again, I find it hard to believe that locals don't recognize him when Walker can pick him out of a group while casually glancing in his direction at 20 mph.

I dig this. This is cool. Star worship gets on my nerves and tends to turn famous people into unappreciative hermits, so seing a place where they are treated like human beings instead of circus freaks is kind of comforting. Still. I really wanted to ask Vettori, "So, what's a wicket again?"

But that would be uncool. I don't want to be uncool. Do you? DT

Sunday, February 13, 2005

228 Madness... No, YOU Calm Down!

Say what you want about the great advantage the internet and technology are to our culture, computers can be retarded sometimes. I just typed up a STUNNING update on racing and training and the status of my tan lines, then the computer goes "I'm confused" and refuses to go any further.

Oh, snap.

Now it's late. I'm hungry. I'll summarize.

RACING with a capital R is going as good as can be expected in such a situation. I'm still pretty out of shape, while everyone else in the country has Nationals in 3 weeks. And yet I'm doing all right, sweet-as. The Cyco crit was last thursday (otherwise known as the Auckland Cycle-Slaughterama) and I had a pretty good ride. Instead of feeling like my chest was about to explode like last time, I felt comfortable. Relaxed. Too cool for school. At one point I even made the wicked manuever of attacking the field with a lap to go to a prime, crossed the gap just before the last corner and outsprinted the break. Nice. My problem with the finish was position, as I ended up on the front with 400m to go. I hate that. So I shoved it in gear, hit the gas, gapped the field, thought I was going to make it, then the legs said "nope" and blew all over the road with about 50m to go. Finished 6th or so. The other big "yay" was not dying in a horrific accident caused by A: the cars parked on the outside exit of one of the corners or B: the concrete median that pops up mid-way through the last corner. All in all a decent day capped by a new max heart rate (228... ouch) and a painfull ride home.

Now for the art of Spectation. The Auckland track champs were this weekend, and as it is thier qualifier for Nationals, I decided not to interfere, opting for long rides and some crazed yelling instead. It didn't help that I didn't know about it until the deadline for entries had past, but I probably would have gone for the crazed yelling thing rides anyway...
First off, Andy Small is a unit. He's an animal with a capital A. This cat hasn't been riding for a couple weeks and has been working like a madman to make the big dollars. We're talking construction in the day and table-waiting at night. Big stuff. So Andy decides he's going to race, throws on a MASSIVE gear for the points race and just rolls it like he's been training like a crazyman.
As he said afterwards, "The energy's out there, you just have to find it.... Write that down."
Richard Bowker (Titch, Titchillini, Richardo) looks like a real life bike racer or something in his NZ skinsuit and white carbon bike, and proceeds to win it in a real nail-biter of a last sprint. Quality stuff.
For the Madison Madness the dynamic duo of Walker Starr and Andy Small kit up in Orange and head to the line in style. The first half they get a few second places and stay in there while Bowker wins a bunch of sprints, then in the second half Walker decideds he's pissed and he's not gonna take it anymore, and completely demolishes all challengers in the last few sprints. Andy spent the whole time chasing down World Cup riders and National champs like they were cat 4 punters (must've been the skinsuit). In the end they end up second, Bowker barely wins again and it's on to the Scratch race, where Andy once again chases down everyone and rides like a unit while Walker throws down a sweet attack, then suffers heavily on account of the bruiser gear (95ish i think) that he slapped on.

Meanwhile I rode to the track and screamed my guts out, ate hotdogs and worked on my tanlines (which are looking excellent, thank you very much). Couple more Thursday Cycle-Slaughteramas to go and it's back on the plane, back to Portland, rain, friends and family, too many Starbucks, Bannana Belts and Pieces of Cake. DT

Friday, February 11, 2005

Night Creatures

With a weekend of heavy riding ahead, this Friday night in town will be tame by any standard, but a Friday Night nonetheless. Some friend of a friend is hosting a costume party at some shwanky dance spot, and we're not to arrive at Vanilla without a "duo" costume. Fine. Smart young lads we are, we throw on jeans, jackets and aviators and it's out the door into rain-glittered streets.

Drinks on tap this evening are ice water or Coke, but the creature inside you still comes out. It can't be stopped, it's not negotiable, it's your inner imp-child.
What's you're trigger?
A song from Thriller blasting through the room? The lasers and pulses hitting right on time to Prince's maniacal wail? The Afro-ed, the wigged, the cowboys and indians churning into your memory? Minds shut down and creatures come through, and before you can say "the night's on fire" the floor is ours, we're tearing this place apart with moves and crazy life you've never seen. Air conditioning and open windows don't help because the night isn't on fire, you are. You have no control over your feet, over your golden legs; for a few short hours you loose it all completely. Alas, lateness happens. "Morning" is still a way off, but sunrise a mere 3 hours from now. The bike racer inside overrules the manic creature and it's like Prince says, "Parties aren't meant to last." And just like that it's on to Foodtown.

Foodtown never closes. 24 hours flourescent, these aisles never sleep, they never go dark. So any hour of the night we roam. Fighting alchoholic haze or tonight's sober restlesness we travel these aisles, searching. We search for opportunity, for open containers, unintended samples of wares we wouldnt buy; for lost souls and midnight vultures. Every night worth living in Auckland gives Foodtown its shot at glory, fame and usefullness. If you keep it open we will come. We pass hair dye and skateboards, peaches, wine and racks of magazines. Maybe this one is the one youve been looking for all along, this deodorant/shaving cream/boxer shorts value pack. Open it up, see what's inside. It's a mad search, a carefull trawl for specials and sales. 3 dollar pack of fake crab meat (it's huge), buy it. Eat it. 2 dollars for a gallon of grape juice, buy it. Drink it. 4 dollars for some other chilly beverage, buy it. Drink it. 6 Dollars for a whole rotisserie roasted chicken. Eat the whole damn thing, it's from foodtown, it's 3:00 in the morning, it's law.

Have a bloody thousand.

We're not here for any purpose, there's nothing we need tonight. You pass people walking down the aisles any hour of the night with a list in hand, shopping to feed themselves, maybe even a family. They travel to this place with a goal, a mission. You pass three twenty year olds drifting down the rivers of chips and dog food, they're traveling for the sake of travelling. They're noticing things you'll never see on your way to pasta sauce and coffee. They know the store, they know it like the way home and every change is something new to take up time and stall for tommorow, because that's all that's really happening here. Maybe it's back to Univerity in a week, back to work tommorow, or just daylight and excercise but for now this Ninja Turtle skateboard holds focus, the peaks of toilet paper might somehow hold the key to the night. Stutterstepping all the way. Look around you, not ahead. DT

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Waterfront World Champs...

Sometimes as I roll down the driveway fully decked out in orange sponsor-covered clothes on my rediculously expensive orange carbon bike rolling on a set of wheels that most people don't even race on, I, in my swoosh-covered cocoon think, damn I'm a geek.


Occasionally, however, I have a day that makes me realize, well, things could be worse. Today for example, five hours of climbing, sweating, crying and probably a little bleeding went by and I finally reached the waterfront of Mission Bay, my final half-hour cruise before showers and food. I was feeling really good about myself, I could now laze around outside a coffee shop reading magazines all day completely guilt-free. The tailwind helped, the tiny blue bay-waves helped, and seeing The Flying Helmet helped.

This guy is awesome. He's serious. He means business, and he makes sure you know it. Ride the opposite direction and wave and all you get is a serious scowl, mouth wide open, eyes fixed ahead in Armstrong-esque focus. Maybe he can't see you underneath the full-on aero-helmet he wears. Maybe he can't hear you above the whoosh of his carbon disc wheel or the swish of the tri-spoke on the front. Maybe he's just THAT serious. Either way, I saw him today and it made me smile for two reasons.

REASON 1: I was riding on my tops, going (what I thought was) slow-as after completely smashing myself for hours and I hauled past The Flying Helmet like he was standing still. I didn't even need aerobars...

REASON 2: I smiled and waved as I rode past and he goes "DAMMIT WATCH OUT!" like I nearly caused his death or something. I didn't. Just rode by. People getting aggro always makes me laugh, so I enjoyed this greatly.

So maybe I am a geek. A big one. But I can always take comfort in knowing that as long as The Flying Helmet is out there somewhere, I'm not the biggest goober on the road. DT

Monday, February 07, 2005

America... F@%K YEAH!!!

So one night in Wanganui I was wandering around town late at night with Breezy's brother Saul and some dude named Lee, and for whatever reason Saul started singing the themesong to Team America: World Police. If you've never heard this musical jem, the lyrics are... well.. the title of this post are the only words anyone knows, and Saul was yelling them at full volume. A few minutes after his voice went out, we see a kiwi girl and her boy-toy walking towards us. The girl is talking (not so quietly) about how much she HATES Americans. How Americans are EVIL. How Americans are at fault for all polution, the Tsunami, and the hairy mole on her back. She gets closer and keeps blabbering on at her poor boyfriend and the whole world, so Saul says something to the effect of "Hey I think she hates Americans"
"Hell yes" She yells.
So (diplomatic American that I am) I say "I'm an American, what do you think of that?"
And here's the part I wasn't really expecting.
This is the part where the drunken idiot lunges at me and gets flung sideways because her boyfriend has a steady grip on her arm.
All because of where I was born.
Granted she's drunk and we got a good laugh out of the rediculous situation, but it threw me a little. She had to have the thought in the back of her mind in the first place in order to bring it out when she heard the word America, let's face it, a drunken stupor is not a time when people come up with political leanings. She would hate me either way, maybe in the afternoon at a kebab stand she would just give me an evil-eye and think about what swine I am, but this just happens to be how we meet. And it made me think about the question...

"So do you support George Bush?"

This is the first thing I hear when someone hears my accent or finds out where I'm from. No shit, almost without fail, every time. EXAMPLE: New Year's Eve, sweaty dancing/drinking establishment, Tuckerman says something to some girl about being here with an American and she looks at me and slurs: "WHAT DO YOU THINK OF GEORGE BUSH?"
Of course I say he's a worthless goon and she seems to feel better and goes back to chatting (well actually yelling) with Tuckie, but again, this just keeps coming up. Yesterday at the track it happened. Last week in town it happened. I can't count the number of times I've heard it. The reaction is always the same when I give my answer. Relief. Whew, he's not one of those "gun-toting war-mongering Bush-lovers" as one guy at the record store put it. Granted this is might be a bit of a harsh way to describe every republican in the country, but this is the reputation they have in the rest of the world. This is how people see Bush, and by association his voters and to some the rest of America. Even after people get to know me, the impression is there, it's impossible to destroy. "He's an American."

This is the way people view us. The brainless cowboys. The narcissistic clods of the world. Awesome. America. Fuck yeah. DT

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mayor Tom Potter, the Anarchist

So on this morning's weekly check of Portland's rumblings of news I found something pretty funny. Tom Potter, the mayor who everybody thought would be a personality-free goon, turns up on a critical mass ride. Sweet. So you mean the mayor of Portland is participating in the local event with the worst media coverage and reputation around? Awesome!

If you're not in the mood to read a seething article about how evil bikes are, I'll sum it up for you in handy bullet points (These are the thoughts of David Reinhard by the way):
  • Tom Potter rode critical mass last night
  • Critical Mass is for idiot hippy anarchists who's only goal is to spread " lawlessness on wheels" throughout the city
  • Qoute: "If they are anything more dignified than an anarchistic indulgence or an outburst to meet the deep pyscho-social needs of their participants -- and this is doubtful -- the Critical Mass rides are rages against the automobile"
  • Critical Mass completely slams traffic through the entire city
  • The riders damage cars and vandalise anything in thier path
  • They force bus riders to wait in the cold because of the previously mentioned traffic snaffu
  • They are causing Portland business owners to worry about Portland's troubling business climate (WHAT?)
  • Tom Potter is a bad bad man and a (get ready) FLIP FLOPPER and Sam Adams would never do something like that

I've been on a critical mass ride and here's my take on the rampant lawlessness. I went because I wanted to check it out, see what everyone was so up in arms about. Arrived at the park blocks as the sun was going down to hang out with a couple wierd cats with chopper bikes, about 10 messengers on fixed gears (who oogled at my old-school shwinn fixie for a while), 5 hairy-legged Lance Armstrong impersonaters and about 5 normal people on bikes. Maybe 25 lawless hooligans tops. Anyway, everybody rolls out and as we rode, I made mental lists of all the anarchic behavior I witnessed: When the group rolls an intersection while the light turns yellow, the stragglers sometimes run the red to not get dropped... disgracefull. People ride outside the bike lane, forcing cars to literally line up behind them, sometimes up to 3 cars at a time... unbelievable. One dude on a tall-bike STACKED IT into a beat-up Mazda and probably broke his nose and definitely dented the door of the car... insanity...

I broke off and went on my own ride after a while, and the impression that I got was not a group of criminals spreading hell on wheels, but a group of people trying to get attention for bikes in a fully legal protest/fun ride. Granted there were two idiots who were yelling at trucks and cars and thought they were THE SHIT because they rode kiddy bikes, but idiots flock to any gathering (like I said last time, politics is no exception).

So to me, the Mayor of Portland showing up at a critical mass ride is not a sign that he's a terrible man, but maybe more that he recognizes groups and events like critical mass, and wants to lend a rational hand to them. He'll ride and talk to people, but he's not going to smash windows and taunt cops because that's what your parents call "leading by example," a rare tactic in modern politics. If more people would show up to events like critical mass and make thier opinions and viewpoints heard without being idiots, maybe they'd be able to achieve something aside from just riding around on funny bikes. Aside from maybe a hint of shameless self-promotion among a certain voting sector, this actually seems to be a rare genuine political gesture. Good on'ya Tom. Good on'ya.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Back to the big city I am, back to coffee and bad drivers, sailboats and fish and chips.
Back in Auckland once again.
January was quite the travel-heavy, multi-destination month but now it's time to kick back, settle in and cruise to the finish line. Never worry fair readers, this doesn't mean I'll be just sitting on my ass drinking coffee and watching the populace oh no, there's still much riding and much racing to be done on top of my busy schedule of ass-sitting, coffee-drinking, populace-watching and Evil-fighting. Speaking of battling EVIL...

... Some people try really hard to fight The Man and I respect that. They write books, they write magazine articles, they make music, they chain themselves to stuff, whatever. I say good on ya if you're doing your part in whatever way you know how, HOWEVER, sometimes stupid people (scratch that, usually stupid people) loose the plot. Some people try to fight The Man by fighting the people, doing such idiot things as destroying people's property or becoming militant goons and blowing shit up. These people suck. Some of these idiots found thier way to Mt. Eden a couple nights ago and decided they would do thier part for the environment by spray-painting 4X4 WANKER all over the SUV's on the street (which is only a few, if it were Portland I suspect they would have been busy for quite some time). How lame. It's true, idiots are everywhere, not just in the White House... DT