The Madison

Video

Track went pretty good last night. I won everything except one sprint but that was kinda not my fault because they forgot to blow the whistle and although I chased down the dude who broke-away, I just sucked his wheel and didn’t attempt a crack at him at the line. Oh well. NBD.

A, B and C all went together for an Italian Pursuit at the end of the night which was awesome fun.

Here’s a video of the Madison which looks fucking crazy! I was telling the guys last night how freaky it would be to grab someone while riding and then fling them ahead. It’s bad enough when I get all wobbly every time I pass a courier friend in the city and need to do a high five.

Good feeling of what the track feels like in this film too.

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Lego, and what it means to me

When I was in my late 20s, one Saturday I went to Myer at Chermside and bought and paid for my very first Lego set with my own money. It was the Millennium Falcon. At the cash register I was so embarrassed I pretended I was buying it as a present for a kid. The person behind the counter only half-believed me.

And so, as I brought the massive box home, I realised it was the very first Lego I had touched since I was 11. I spent the next few days building the fuck out of that bad-boy and just loving every second.

See up until that point, all the Lego I had owned had been given to me, usually as a Christmas or birthday surprise. Only once did I get to choose a lego set and it was the very last set I obtained in that period. And It was bought for me by my godmother. I am not a religious person – but – god, fucking, bless her. I was so happy I could have been overdosing on ecstacy. Not that I know what extacsy feels like – but I think I can half imagine.

So once upon a time – my sheer, brutal-love affair with lego started. Try as I might, I cannot remember my first lego set. It was just there – a lovable constant in my upbringing.

I must have adored those early blocks and miscellaneous bits, but only with the “love” a 4 or 5 year old can dismissively muster. So I would imagine those first lego bits would be prone to being lost – consumed by a sinister vacuum cleaner, buried somehow in the garden or just suddenly missing in the constant moving I experienced as a child.

It now occurs to me that this space ship I had constructed a day or so later after the “mobile rocket transport” outlined below. You can see how the satellite dish is exactly the same…

But then on Christmas Day 1983 I had an epiphany. It was at my Nanna’s house in Ipswich and my mum was visiting from Sydney (which was a big deal) and I was forced to open the smallest presents first. My parents seemed to understand the value of suspense.

See in those days the smallest presents were invariably the shitiest. Nowadays with the iPhones and the Garmins and other super-electronics stuff, the smallest gift just might be the best.

But sometimes my parents would just wrap up a set of batteries. And you would rip this present open and just go – “Wha? Are you guys on drugs?” And then suddenly your brain would start to work again and when they excitedly thrust another present in your hands you would realise something very special was about to be unveiled.

But getting back to Christmas 1983. So eventually I got through all the little forgettable or practical stuff – and soon enough I was unwrapping this box that shuffled and rumbled inside with the musical frequency I knew instinctively as “a shit load of lego”. Even before I opened the wrapping I could feel my bladder was a tiny bit compromised. This would be my very first major Lego set. And through the magic of the time-machine of the internet – below is the cover of the box. Something until today I had not seen in decades.

And when I gazed upon this box I saw it was from the newly established “Space” genre. And it was called “Mobile Rocket Transport” and I just shook like I had full-body Parkinson’s – with a happiness I will never experience again.

Holy moly. First of all the box was twice my width and almost half my height. And then it took me most of Christmas Day to assemble, a simply magical experience.

So Lego’s new “SPACE” theme became my ONLY theme. It was now my world. I would not accept any other bricks. Had someone bought me a big city set I would have first told them how disappointed I was, then cannibalized the set for anything useful to me building SPACE stuff. Then I would have chucked the rest of the bricks in the face of the person who had given me that trash in the first place. UGH!

A relative then gave me two plastic trays (avec handles) to stow my blossoming lego collection. I can remember digging through those trays looking for pieces I needed. The smallest pieces were always the most important. The one bit lights for instance.

This was the set my Godmother —  Kim — bought me. I cannot tell her much it meant to me at the time. Horribly awesome, but a bit horribly guilty that she had bought me the biggest gift I had ever received.  

When my dad was briefly and quite suddenly hospitalised I was literally dragged out of school and shoved on a train ultimately to be temporarily re-located to the country town of Wagga Wagga in NSW where my grandparents (both born and bred in Scotland/England) lived. It took 2 days to get there and the train actually caught fire on the way! (Only a little bit but it was so freakishly dramatic to an 8 year old!)

Once we got there it was established that my grandad was working at the airforce base as a mechanic. In the seconds I had before the trip I remember insisting I take the entirety of my lego collection with me. The train ride was so imminent no one had the strength to argue. So probably sans quite a bit of important clothing and other essentials we were suddenly on a train heading south.

And at the time it seemed such an adventure – but it soon became less of a Lego adventure, but more of a Dr Who one. See I was travelling back in time. I was now under the archaic rules of my grandmother. Indeed my grandad was not much better. Although he worked in the airforce and I wished so fucking hard he would tell me about it, he was effectively a zombie to me. The only time he was animated was when he chastised me for leaving an inner door open – something that would excise the demon known as “the draft”.

My grandmother was even more intense. She is a Baptist and seems to be forever atoning for very minor discretions (by today’s standards) as a youngster. At the time I was used to it. It seemed to be cool that she left a glass of milk next to my bed after I fell asleep just in case if perhaps I woke up in the dead of night and suddenly needed lactose I could drink it’s milky goodness…and it was a tiny bit endearing that she washed my hair in the bathroom sink, but everything else was just evil. So much religion, no laughs, and an inherent cynicism about the world and the people in it – unless they went to Church.

But thankfully I had my little plastic bricks and the imagination to transform them into a world I could escape to.

That time in Wagga was actually quite amazing. I was suddenly top of the class. I felt like a total braniac and thus I got an incredible amount of respect around the school-yard. No apparent interest from girls, which I was completely used to – but at least I was an intellectual celebrity which was inspiring I guess.

For a show-and-tell school spectacle, I built the most ambitious Lego space ship I had ever attempted. I used every brick I owned. It was so ridiculously long and fragile I needed my sister to help me carry it to school. I remember it being quite a scene as we waddled through the school gates — the ship waddling quite a bit more than us. I didn’t win any prizes, but I didn’t care. I had made the biggest lego ship ever. Exponentially so.

At least in Wagga.

The end of lego came quite suddenly again – almost as suddenly as that move to Wagga. Admittedly by the time I was 11 I had moved on a bit and Lego was now a bit “kids stuff”. My Grandma either sensed this or just decided this. Now I think about it – it was the latter.

After all she was that crazy-brutal Grandma from Wagga who was now back in my home-town of Ipswich and thus her Death-Star-tractor-beam of influence was even more intense. She, who had been raised during the war… she who had lived through bombs raining down and living (perhaps) perpetually on cardboard and rations not exactly unlike cardboard had just decided I needed to donate my totally indulgent Lego bricky magic to another kid. A less fortunate soul would now perhaps enjoy this intensely personal stuff. She was probably working through some charity she helped out with through her Church. Confronted with that logic, confronted with her history, her brutal soberness and her omnipresent seriousness, I had not choice but to agree it was the right thing to do – even though quite a bit of my heart thought maybe I would miss it one day. Maybe even perhaps the day after tomorrow.

But then it was gone.

And now, despite being a bit embarrassed at first, I am embracing it all again. And it is fucking awesome. Even the “intellectual” bricks of the “Architecture” series. Refreshing. Just a few weeks ago I saw a rather normal-looking-dude in his 20s buying a pretty awesome Star Wars set. Ans so now I have now come full circle. Totally.

That’s me as a baby in the frame in the background. Oh the irony.

Lego’s “Falling Water”

Weekend Photos

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A tiny bit of Brisbane Cycle Chic

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The cat had been ignoring the new deck furniture, so I put one of my jackets down in the hope she would embrace it. And I got a pretty awesome result!

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On Friday night we tried out Coles home delivery. It was just a test and it arrives in a van like this. I am not quite convinced, al that plastic etc but once we work out if it is good for us, not horribly indulgent and wasteful… well maybe we will continue.

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And thus the first super-cold night of the year we tried out a fire – avec marshmallows. Hugh had done an episode of his awsm TV show featuring them just the night before.

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But in doing all this, I think we made a huge mistake making a fire. Even though we used wood from a tree I was forced to cut down a year ago but saved for this very purpose – and it was pretty cool for an hour or so – it really stunk up the house with smokey bullshit. Plus I am gradually understanding that the toxins produced by wood fires are pretty heinous.

Today I really do feel like I have smoked a dozen packets of cigarettes while at the same time being stuck for hours in an elevator with another bunch of douchecanoes equally smoking as many cigarettes as they can immolate in the possible timeframe. A tiny bit EVIL>

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The marshmallows tasted pretty good but…

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The cat seemed intrigued.

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Sunday we had a coffee and a light lunch at cafe GOMA. Nice view.

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Then I had a mysterious meeting at State Library – which I might tell you about a bit later.

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Next was GoldSprint roller-racing at Cartel Bar on Caxton Street in Petrie Terrace. This is Scott with his magic tape measure so he could ensure his saddle on the roller-bike was at exactly the same height as his normal ride. So, so pro.

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Marty and Erik sharing a special moment before their race. I raced next but was hoping to actually lose cause I needed to get to a dinner with Dee’s parents at Il Postino a big deal up the road very soon after. But then I accidentally won.

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The cute sunset over Caxton Street

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Until this afternoon I didn’t realise Jesse Eisenberg was part of the fixie scene in Brisbane. That’s Julian on the right who can SPIN like a fucking GRAVITRON on DRUGS. (Like speed kinda drugs).

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The only female participants of the evening managed a DEAD TIE. It was pretty amazing.

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This is Rupert just as gobsmacked as me as to what had just occurred and in the background is the results on the screen. But in the advent of a dead heat – the winner is awarded to the person who actually clocked the highest speed.

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This is Scotty measuring his shit. LOL

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Bjorn in the centre who, apart from help by Erik and Marty, made all this shit REAL. Kudos.

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And finally – at Il Postino. The food was pretty frkn amazing.

GUEST BLOG “What I talk about when I talk about walking” (By Dee)

ImageThe author, not walking, in Japan.

After much nagging, Davey has finally worn me down enough to get me to write a ‘guest’ post. So, let me tell you a little story about one of my daily companions – a now-busted-beyond-recognition, rejected sex toy.

Perhaps I should explain. I walk to and from work. This started when we moved to Auchenflower, as to get to my South Brisbane office, I would need to take two trains or buses (and still have to walk more than a kilometre). ‘Fuck it,’ I thought, deciding to cut out the middleman and rely on my own two feet.

Here’s the basics – it’s about 3.4kms and takes me approximately 35 minutes each way. Two of the inner-west’s main arterials – Milton Road and Coronation Drive – form the major part of the walk. It’s usually pretty uneventful, but I have come to fondly look out for the familiar things that usually dot this route of a morning. The one closest to my heart, one that has stood strong against time and weather, is perhaps not what you would usually expect to encounter on your morning constitutional.

A few months after I started this routine, the row of terrace ‘houses’ (actually offices and a restaurant) along Coronation Drive presented me, and the rest of its many pedestrian passers-by, with a singular delight on a Monday morning. A dildo had been thrown (with not-unimpressive force) against one of the house’s cement garden beds, before slumping dejectedly to the sidewalk, some of its guts—translucent, gelatinous—spilled against the wall and ground. I excitedly told Davey about it that night, expecting it to be gone by morning, cleaned up by the magical sex-toy sanitation division that surely existed within the Brisbane City Council. How wrong I was. As the days turned hotter and the sun wilted me on my morning walk, so too did my new Coro Drive companion feel the heat. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a dildo slowly melt in the Queensland sun, but I can tell you it’s not a pretty sight. Even the heavy rains that preceded the January 2011 floods did little to wash that little battler away.

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Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of the actual set of steps from a moving car, but they are just a few feet away.

Rain is one of the great challenges. Most times, an umbrella and a spare pair of shoes does the trick, but other times it’s not so easy. Obviously, the lead up to ‘The Flood of 2010-2011’ was pretty disheartening. It necessitated wearing a trench coat and boots on a few occasions, which is almost unheard of in January. A few days before the river broke its banks and started seeping into the neighbourhood, there were signs of things to come. Torwood Street had localised, tidal (+ heavy rainfall) flooding for a couple of days, which would bring my walk to a screeching halt as I rounded the corner and saw a pool of calf-deep water across the road. But, my tales of “there was water across the footpath so I had to change my route to work FML” are boring and so minor in comparison, so that’s that.

Torwood Street (from Macintosh) and then (above) Milton Road during the January 2011 floods

Rain may be one thing, but the walk in summer is a truly heinous task and requires double the outfit planning and preparation. Even thinking about it now, rugged up in thick tights and a hoodie, makes me break out into a sweat. There is nothing dignified about being outside in the Queensland summer, let alone attempting to push through the soupy, soul-destroying humidity to get to work. On the day earlier this year that the temperature hit 37 degrees, I waited in the office – refreshing the BOM website with deranged fervour every minute – for the mercury to drop below 36 degrees. Finally, at about 5:30pm, it did and I braced myself for the walk home. For some reason, that day I had decided to wear the only pair of pants I own and a silk top. Take it from me, an idiot, that this is an outfit combination to avoid on the hottest day of the year. Actually, just don’t walk three kilometres in extreme heat, that’s probably a better tip, and you can have that one for free. Image

The Go Between Bridge – because it would be too cultural of the BCC to actually have added the hyphen (or the “s” on the end).

This time of year is my favourite for many reasons, but particularly as it renders the walk actually pleasant. The air is crisp and cool, and my fringe isn’t stuck to my forehead by the time I get to work. Even on the most brittle mornings and when the sun is long gone by 4:45pm, it’s OK – wearing coats in Brisbane is such a novelty that you should never pass up these opportunities. So, four for you, autumn and winter!

Every now and then, when I do catch public transport (to/from uni, or if I’m finishing work later in the city) or on the odd occasion I drive to work, it’s a reminder of how fortunate I am to have the option to walk to work. Everything else is a drag. I get to listen to Queen lots of different, new & cool music, don’t have to deal with crowded trains or late buses, there’s no expense (except for having to frequently replace shoes) and the government would be very proud I’m “finding my thirty” (twice – can do that, Campbell). Even if I’ve had a terrible day at work, it all melts away somewhere between the Go Between and Park Road. All in all, it’s a pretty good deal.

The dildo’s still there, by the way, but a shadow of its former self. Sad, really.

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Something is happening soon

Next week I am doing another something that can only be described as lightyears outside my comfort zone. And many of you just might be glad to hear it is totally unrelated to bikes.

It will happen on Thursday evening and I won’t say much more until after – just in case it is a total disaster.

I have been thoroughly distracted since I realised it was imminent and have spent hours and hours alone, literally talking to myself, going through it all. Practicing, rehearsing. So it is a gig, just not the kinda “gig” I am used to.

And crucially it is a very public event but I am not going to advertise it to everyone. Instead I have invited just a few of my friends who seem to be hardy enough to tolerate the spectacle, the tragedy that will probably ensue. It will be brutal. It will make them wince and squirm in their chairs.

Soon we will all be going through Play School’s arched window — the best window. The window with the coolest stories behind.

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HISTORY part 2

I was inspired today to continue writing about my personal history by reading a great deal of my very first (proper) girlfriend’s incredibly-excellent life story. Her tale differs a lot from the way I have tackled my narrative, but hopefully it has influenced a bit of what I am about to say next. Cause what Els wrote was horribly good and the things she focussed on exposed truths about what I focus on in thinking about the story of my life. But I might come back to these thoughts later…

LINK TO PART 1

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These last two pics are Kate’s

We pick up the story in 1992 in which I found myself living in Marrickville, in Sydney’s inner west. Having spent my entire Sydney years in the Eastern suburbs and calling anyone who lived on the wrong side of Central Station a stupid “westie” with that venom only kids can spit out and get away with, I suddenly found it quite acutely deflating to literally become a “westie”. My life was over. When Luke Skywalker describes his home on Tattoine as the point farthest from the centre of the universe I now understood exactly how he felt.

And we lived in the grimiest, most defeated part, right under the flight path. A smelly biscuit factory was directly next door. Massive planes roared overhead every 10 or 15 minutes and they were so close to the ground, so loud, you had to just imagine what was being said on the TV or be forced to attempt sign language for a full 30 seconds if you were trying to have a conversation with someone. At night you’d see big groups of teenagers just wandering around and you would literally cross the street to limit any confrontation.

In daylight, which was just a tiny bit more composed, I found myself now having to catch two buses to school. TWO. I ended up walking the leg from Central to school (morning and afternoon) just because only one bus-ride felt that much more dignified.

And this move was also marked by a line being drawn in the sand of romance in my life. Els had moved on to bigger and badder boys. I think I was too safe and ordinary. At that age a woman, a real woman needed adventure and someone, something outside a comfort zone. And only recently can I appreciate that impetus — having spent so much time so safely cuddled up in that womb of safe-living. Eventually that lifestyle got thoroughly boring and each time I ventured further I was smacked in the goolies with REWARDS that made my mind explode. But more on that later.

There was also other women in my life in that period. There was Els’ best friend Kate, and her other best friend, Esther — both who I found myself in some sort of romantic, but invariably “tragic” interlude. It seemed normal to everyone at the time but it seems quite surreal looking back at it.

Kate was a handful, and gleefully embraced that notion. When things ended, badly, she was blissfully unaware of what it meant to me, and presumably to her also. Esther was a far more serious equation. She had a lifestyle that could be only described as regimented. A doctrine that was only relaxed, quite painfully, when I took her to the year 10 formal. I tried to kiss her, but failed and felt so, so bad for doing so. It was horrible and ended up being such a hideously awful night.

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Els and Esther

In my defence I wasn’t such a straighty-180. I was growing my hair long, I was wearing Doc Martins, I was listening to Nirvana (despite the fact I thought it would eventually fry my brain and turn me into a psychopath) and I was smoking a bit of weed, skipping school occasionally. But crucially, the biggest act of rebellion it seemed in that period was never tucking in my school shirt and steadfastly wearing the “junior tie” in my senior years. This was my tiny poke at the MAN.

And in this period, for the first time in my life, I found myself officially “bullied”. Previously I had experienced moments or maybe even events where kids had verbally or physically attacked me — pointing out some acutely obvious weakness — but it was usually fleeting or actually endearing (like how you would get however many punches on your arm that suited your birthday).

But this time it was different. Radically so. These people, my supposed friends, were suddenly pathetically deciding to randomly just include me in a game they just invented. And that was how they could justify it as “fun”. The game entailed everyone randomly grabbing me, and then carrying me up this hill and then forcing me through the tiny gap between the aluminium seat and the dirt underneath. Yeah. Not that interesting or even painful on my behalf, but the point was it damaged my dignity. I had no control. And the point for them was they acted like a unit. They bonded to someone else’s detriment. They even had a name for it which I have forgotten.

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I thus spent a few weeks just avoiding my “friends”. At one point they tried to find me at a lunch period and burst into a room where I was “hiding” – using the time to read. And as they attempted to force me away they realised carrying me halfway across the school was a bit ambitious and gave up pretty quickly. Thankfully it ended then and there and I was able to hang out with them all again, but always with this horrible taste in my mouth when I looked at them.

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When I now look at these people through the magic-play-school-window of facebook, I feel just a tiny bit… well…victorious.

Also through this period I had acquired a guitar. Indeed I had gone through 2 guitars already. The first I had hocked at a pawn shop to buy my second, which was promptly stolen from the living room in a daring home-robbing-invasion while myself and the whole household was asleep upstairs.

The guitar I bought with the insurance money was then signed by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits in quite dramatic circumstances.

On Jeremy’s insistence we camped out over night on the street to get tickets for the first concert. Then, the next night so struggling to stay awake, he had dragged me along to the bench in front of the Sebel Townhouse to wait for the second show to finish. When the tarago pulled up we dashed across the road and confronted him. He was in a dressing gown and looked like he had been hit by a truck. He managed to get us to come into the lobby and we plonked our guitars up on the counter. My guitar was black so I had cleverly stolen this pen from a friend in science class earlier that day. Though it looked suspiciously bent and dirty Mark grabbed it and attempted to sign away but then the pen seem to explod and leaked all over his hand. He stated panicking and barked orders to his roadies to find some metho and a rag. Meanwhile, I just died. I decided I no longer existed and this helped.

I got my guitar back and Mark told me to chuck the pen, but stupidly I said, “Nah, I’m gonna keep it for your fingerprints.” TRUE STORY. I didn’t mean it to be creepy, I just meant it like he was that important. He looked at me rather strangely. I guess, in all his years of being adored and chased by fans, he had never heard those words before.

So my last two years at school I spent in the wilderness. I had no friends, no chance at romance and I was literally living in the wilds of Sydney. And if that was not enough of a punch in the face it suddenly came time to sit for my “Higher School Certificate” (or HSC). This was what all my schooling was building up to. And because I had no other distractions except for TV, this fact just smashed me over the head. Over and over.

I found myself broken. It was like a year-long pain cave.

For very obvious and meaningful reasons to me at the time I came to believe that my whole future depended on these results. And I know this seems so silly to you and indeed it seems ludicrous to my current self writing this shit —  but back then it was so freakishly real. It was like a tattoo on my forehead. I thought everyone else (like family or the bus driver or maybe even the guy at the corner store) would notice my malaise, but they didn’t bat an eyelid. I was even more alone.

And through this period I was still just a little kid even though for the actual exams my birth certificate said I was 18 and thus could vote and go to war and drink and smoke and maybe even hire a car if I tried hard enough.  I am reminded thus of the day after my 18th birthday which I spent unceremoniously at school and when my roll-call-teacher asked me to take a form home for my parents to sign I swaggered up to his desk and looked him dead in the eye and casually said, “That won’t be necessary” and signed it there and then. I pointed out my sudden age but the teacher, obviously quite flummoxed, still refused to accept the form and a big argument ensued. I won by the way.

Year 10 prom. Esther was my date

So I got impossibly stressed about my HSC. It was like having a disease that no one cared about or understood. I did stupid things like developing a habit of cracking my neck thinking that might relieve some stress on my poor brain that refused to remember the facts or work under any sort of pressure. I remember looking at random people in the street as I walked home from school arrogantly deciding they had no troubles like mine.

Once there was an “oral” assessment for English we had to deliver in front of a panel of teachers, purposely NOT the teachers you knew. I distinctly remember my left leg shaking the whole time with sheer, uncontrollable, unbridled fear. All the while my mouth worked and I delivered my speech pretty well, and I just shifted my stance to put that shaking leg as much behind my body as possible.

I really think being 18 and still being at school is ridiculous. But while I was stoked at the fact I could suddenly do all these adult things – I steered as far clear of them as I could.

The day before that roll-call-room-incident I celebrated my 18th by going to a humble footy match at the Sydney Football Stadium. I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol. I didn’t enrol to vote. And I certainly didn’t present anyone with a “NOTICE OF CLAIM”.

But soon the ardour of the HSC was over and I finished some random exam and because it was only 2pm I walked out of the school gates for the final time, without any audience or company. Although the school was stuffed with about a 1000 kids, when a period was in effect, the school grounds were like a ghost-town.

I thought I should savour the experience – I actually knew this was going to be a big deal for me for the rest of my life – but six long years was enough and the shit that I had to deal with in there would only get glossed over by the beer-goggles of memory.

I strolled out without looking back – incredibly happy to be free of the place.

Track Racing

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Last night, for the first time ever, I rode my bike in a “race” – like a race I needed a proper license for.

So I say “raced”, but it was just a bunch of track races at chandler velodrome in “C” Grade, the very lowest, and C grade is effectively just about learning the skills and then demonstrating you have those skills so you can graduate to B or A.

I’d ridden at Chandler a few times before.

The first time was pretty darn scary. The steepness of the walls at either end seemed so glassy and oblique they would instantly send you sliding the moment you hit them.

I remember the first time I had the courage to venture up them. I rolled around the very bottom where it was flat for a bit, just mentally preparing and then I said to myself, “It’s now or never,” and started smashing up as much speed as I could just swinging up that metre into the track and then that corner was instantly upon me and suddenly I was heading around the bank at some crazy angle and thinking it was a miracle I was still able to ride. Soon that feeling at speed as your world just shifted to a ridiculous tangent while your feet spun away became natural and gradually you understood that new horizon.

But I’ll admit – it still freaked the shit out of me. As part of my induction, I was taken around the tops of those big walls at either end at barely above walking pace just to show me the bike wouldn’t slip out. It was fucking petrifying, but after a few laps it became the perfect tool to rewire my brain into not being afraid of those banks anymore.

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Tom riding in B grade

Other lessons included understanding the sprinters line and how you look where you want to go (change lines) and to be in tune to what other riders are doing or going to do.

And the last lesson was about how to take turns at the front. The peleton, actually…do you call it a peleton in track cycling? Anyway, at the beginning of a scratch race, the riders will work together in a train and the front rider will peel off after their turn then rejoin the pack at the end.

So that done it came time for me to race. There were only 6 of us, including two kids. I was a bit scared — and not just because all the A and B grades were watching. And another thing I was just getting used to was pushing off from the fence with both shoes clipped in and a bunch of other wobbly riders around. Trickier than you think to a dweeb like me.

The first race went ok. I think it was 8 laps. I tried really hard to stay as close to the bike wheel in front, which apparently is good racing etiquette. I took my turns at the front and kept the pace even and especially even when I peeled off up the bank so I could rejoin the back as smoothly as possible. I looked around every time I was going to do something. (It almost felt like I was doing my driving license test all over again.)

When the last lap bell went I found myself at the very front so I just charged at about 90% effort and for the final 50 metres I spun pretty close to my hardest. And as I crossed the finish line I seemed quite alone and the officials didn’t show any body language like the race was over so I thought, “Shit, maybe that bell meant two laps?” So I kept sprinting and went around again as fast as I could thinking that whoever was behind me would now be able to charge me down as I’d broken out too early.

But then I realised that I had just done an extra lap for no reason. I must have looked like a total dick.

While B and A grade raced I had a rest.

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Scotty ripping shit up as usual – damn good rider!

The next C grade race was a 10 lap race with an intermediate sprint dictated by a whistle at a random lap. Again I found myself at the front when the whistle was blown but this time I just waited for someone else to make a move – just to make things more interesting. So Dayne attacked not too long into the straight and as I was in the sprinter’s lane he kept outside the black line.

I surged and managed to hold him off. The pack regrouped and then the final sprint Dayne attacked on my outside again but this time got a length or so ahead of me so I thought that to overtake him I had to come around him so that’s what I did. Later I realised I could have just stayed in the sprinter’s lane and saved myself the extra metres I had to travel to get around. I just beat him at the line and as I slowed I was really sucking in air. Inside a tiny bit of vomit seemed to want to form in my throat, but that feeling eventually eased.

Sprinting at 100% towards that line I just got caught up in the moment and it was only later I realised how long I had been in the red-zone. I guess that’s racing right?

ImageMy mate Craig, who had just recently broken back coming off his bike, came along to watch and he took this photo of me in the last race.

The last race was just three of us and I just rode around and let someone else win. Is that poor form? I felt a bit guilty winning all the time.

Anyway! It was good. Really good! I need a bit more practice before B grade, which looks far, far more intense. Stay tuned.

The weekend and goodbye Trek 1.7

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Saturday afternoon Dee sent me to the Butcher to get a “roast”. Being a reformed vegetarian, I am not very good at buying meat so I went up to the counter and said, “Um…can I get a ‘roast’ please?” And he was like, “What kinda ‘roast’?” This threw me and he pointed over to a bunch of big fat chunks of flesh and I pointed at the smallest and said, “That one please.”

At home we weighed this bad-boy and it was over 1.6kg. Luckily I am not fussy with food and have literally had roast beef with every single meal (except sushi for lunch today) since. No complaints.

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Dee then made apple crumble which was amazing. Dee will do a guest blog here one day and show you all her skills! YES!

Just before we had bucket-washed Dee’s car for the first time ever – which turned out to be a bit of a silly idea on such a steep glassy-slippery-pebble-shit-driveway. I only slipped about 3 times but managed to stay upright.

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While Dee was cooking I decided to clean my old Trek road bike (which I have had since December 2007) cause I am selling it to Tim. The Trek and me have been through some amazing adventures. I would imagine it would be 30,000kms or more. -It suffered with me on all that pain I put myself through to build up my bike skills. My first Coot-tha, my first time I had ridden over 70km/hr on a bike, my first group rides, my first 100kms, my first 100 miles, my first 3 day 520km+ ride…etc. It is going to a good home.

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You can see by the saddle how much punishment I gave it.

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This is a photo of the front wheel and the carbon forks around it. See those paint chips? This damage occurred about 5 days after I bought the bike. I was coming down Bowen Bridge Road at about 60km/hr and the shitty orange reflectors not-properly-attached-to-the-wheels came loose and then exploded in a spectacular and fucking frightening orange-shattering-glory. I thought I was toast, but the bike kept rolling  in a straight line and I stopped a few hundred metres later and saw all the paint chips to the carbon forks. I had heard horror stories about how fragile carbon was so I went to a bike mechanic and asked their opinion. Luckily he said it was just superficial. Even though he looked about 15 I was reassured.

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New bike and the old. (plus the cat being so nosey)

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I love this rug. It was super cheap (about a third of the price of a boutique option) and came from a very ordinary store in Rocklea. But I love it’s simplicity, and I love how the cat just blends into it.

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On Sunday, after riding up Mt Gravatt for the first time and trying to take a picture of the quite awesome view (but realising the camera was sans a memory card) I slunked home and did the gardening. We inherited this hand-mower from the previous owners and it is tough work, but does the job! It is very loud, but maybe not as loud as a conventional mower. I guess it would sound pretty annoying to neighbours as the noise is not constant – just organic. It makes this surging whizz (every time I rip into the lawn) and then this scream as it spins down). And it probably takes about twice, maybe three times, as long as a petrol-powered machine.

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So the cat was watching me do my shit. Image

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Then she just showed off her skills.

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Then she smashed about 6m up this tree. I only realised she was up there when I head the Indian Minor birds get narky.

Eventually she came down and it wasn’t dignified, she went backwards most of the time, then dropped seemingly totally-out-of-control for a few feet only to somehow find a scratch-hold at the last moment to arrest her fall. Then she ambled down the next few metres – probably purring – like this was all normal. No biggie. Obviously her hind leg is pretty much cured.

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Ever since we bought this house I have wanted to get chooks. I even started, but didn’t finish, this chook-pen. SOON!

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This is Tim carrying out my old bike. As I said before – it’s going to a great home. Tim actually rode this bike in the early days when we rode together – so it’s not like he doesn’t understand it. Tim also got car-doored recently which makes me so freaking mad. I almost got doored myself twice on Sunday. GRRR! Happy riding Timmmay!

Hair

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Just recently I have let my hair grow out a bit. See about 4 months ago I gave myself a rather severe hair cut, just for something different, but no one seemed to appreciate it.

CUTTING MY OWN HAIR

In case you didn’t know this about me, I cut my own hair. I grab a blunt pair of ordinary kitchen-drawer scissors, stand in front of the mirror and excise big chunks of my ginger-mane. It is messy and sometimes I have to vacuum the bathroom afterwards, but this is what I do. No big deal right? Wrong.

When people discover this fact, it seems to absolutely freak them out, and then they start looking a little too closely at my hair (which makes me equally as uneasy) and saying stuff like, “Oh yeah, it’s a little uneven at the back…” And until the conversation changes topics, they look at me like I had just told them I like to sleep rough occasionally.

Yet no one has ever noticed of their own volition. I might get the occasional post-haircut jibe like “Stefan?*” or “Nice haircut” – like they are saying I have been cut by clippers exclusively and have virtually no hair left – but it’s not like anyone has any idea I cut my own hair.

It’s not such a weird story about how I got to this place either.

HOW I GOT HERE

When I was growing up, haircuts were like Christmas. Because we were so poor haircuts were an absolute luxury. If I was lucky, I would get maybe 3 haircuts a year. And the feeling I got going to school the next day looking all neat and civilised and DIFFERENT was amazing. I remember in year 6 I had such confidence after a haircut I promptly asked out the girl I had the biggest crush on – Megan – thinking my new look would be all the difference. She gave me an emphatic “No!”

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As you can see – at 8 – I wouldn’t have looked out of place in a hair-metal band

But as I grew up haircuts became a chore. All that chit-chat, all that looking at myself in the mirror and let’s face it – it costs a fortune and takes up so much time.

So I somehow convinced a girlfriend to cut my hair and it went fine. I could still show my mug in public and know one was any wiser. Indeed it wasn’t the first time I had had home-haircuts. In primary school a few of my dad’s girlfriends had cut my hair. Once this woman called Paula gave me a haircut, and I must have been 10, and she had this low-cut top and as she bent over to clip I could see just a bit too much of her jubblies and I was so, so embarrassed I kept my eyes closed. Paula asked me if it was cause I was getting hair in my eyes and I gleefully agreed – happy I didn’t have to explain the real reason.

So then I split up with that girlfriend and my next GF steadfastly refused to cut my hair. Even despite me saying, “I don’t care if you stuff it up!” she was almost shaking at the thought of cutting someone’s hair and getting it wrong.

And thus I was forced to visit a barber for the first time in 2 years and it was just an appalling experience. I was then determined to try it for myself. And it wasn’t that hard. You just took roughly the same amount of hair from all directions, then just clipped where stuff needed to be evened out and complimented the way you parted your hair. Easy.

And the more I did it, the better I got. I think it has been 12 years since I have been to a professional hairdresser. The only thing I miss is getting your hair washed by someone else. But mostly I think this was cause I had a crush on the woman who used to do this at Hair Junction.

BIKE HAIR

Bike riding is no good for hair. And that is why pro-cyclists have very short haircuts. And the very, very few who have longer hair, get laughed at. It just looks stupid, all that stuff at the back, trailing out there under your helmet.

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Although I am no where near a PRO-CYCLIST, I do understand the reasoning.

WATER IN MY EAR

So. The impetus for today’s blog was actually cause I have some fluid stuck in my left ear. It’s been that way for two days and it is starting to chip away at my soul.

I have tried lying upside down and banging the other side of my head. I have tried sticking ear bugs a little too deep into my ear-canal. No luck.

The reason I have water in my ear canal is cause my hair is that bit long enough so that it congregates around my ear and when I sweat (and I sweat quite a lot) my hair soaks up that fluid and when I get home and take off my helmet and sweatband and rough up my hair, the clump of hair around my ears just spills out that fluid and it has no where else to go but seeping down into the dark, remoteness of the tubes in my ear.

This is not the first time this has happened. And it sucks. It really does.

The other thing I hate about having longer hair and bike riding is that when your head is encased in a helmet, most of your hair is pretty much locked in – flattened – but the strands at the very back are free and get an effective PERM. It’s not very flattering when you take your helmet off and you look like Michael Bolton.

Helmets suck for hair.

* In the 80s Stefan had ads where a person would show up to work or something and the other person would see their new haircut and say, “Stefan?” and they would reply, “Yes…Stefan.” So at school if you got a haircut kids would do the same thing, even if there was literally no chance you got your cut at a Stefan salon.

Last week or so in photos

In chronological order…

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I went to Track last Tuesday at Chandler just to learn a bit in lieu of actually trying it one day – hopefully next week. It started to make a lot more sense I am happy to say.Image

This is Red – Shirts’ brother.

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The irrepressible might of Scott ready to rip shit up

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Thursday was Norway’s national day. I was in the city getting my lunch and I saw a family in bunad and I was instantly reminded that I was in Norway roughly this time last year and so I actually stopped them and asked them if there was an event happening and they said they were on their way to a parade. So I got my lunch and I walked over just in time.

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Norwegians are just incredibly stunning people!

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Last night we were having dinner at Chris and Megs’ place over in Paddington. So I took a few photos as I walked over. Our new cafe looks almost ready to open.

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The strangler fig on Haig Road

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This house has flamingoes just like us!

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Met Dee at the Paddo.

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At AP Design they have boutique milk crates made from wood! 

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This is Sarah’s scar. She fell on a wine glass and almost bled to death. She gets to take her “claw” off today, but it’s still another year or so before she might get full use of her hand back.

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Winston! I think he’s 7 or 8 months old…

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Laura, Pete, Dee, Chris, Meg and Sarah.

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These art deco light fittings everywhere in Queensland.

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Was a bit drunkenly excited on the way home taking photos of random stuff…