Archive for February 22nd, 2010|Daily archive page

Love is a battlefield…Valentines Day Alleycat

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on February 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

So a couple of the boys that I met at polo with Joel/Jol, especially Ben whose spent some time in Radelaide (which is my new favourite bastardization of a city name, in front of Brisvegas, but I can’t think of a good one for London, the first thing that pops into my head is Slumdon or Scumdon,m and they are the only ones I can get to work with the don, if you can produce a better one I’d be in your debt, and would use it for the foreseeable when talking about London to get it into people’s consciousness). So Ben is a courier and he invites me out to the Valentines Day AlleyCat which is held on Friday the 12th. It would only be my second alleycat after the fakenger one I did in Stockholm with Russell, which was great fun and a golden way to see the city, even if everyone who participated in that one, got absolutely battered and ambulances had to be called.

So I uhmm and ahh for a little bit, then think fuck it, if I’m going to do an alleycat I might as well keep up my perfect record and only do them outside of London town, what do I have to lose, and head over to the Melbourne Museum over in Brunswick/Carlton, where they have Avatar playing on the Imax – is it worth me seeing it for a third time on the Imax, I’m in two minds – so I roll up, cautious not knowing anyone, expecting it to be tiny, and no one to be there. But when I arrive there’s already an expectant group of fifteen to twenty and some pretty schweeet bikes lying around, and a guy who is the spit of Russell, down to the checked shirt, sunnies, cycling cap and rolled up jeans, pulling wheelies, backward circles and endoe’s as he rolls around the space between buildings.

I introduce myself to some of the bods, take some shots of their bikes, and spy Maiya (think that’s how you spell her name) who I’d seen at polo as well, and get paired off with a tall bespectacled guy called Budge. Obviously in the Valentines day alleycat, you’ve got to be in a two some. We shoot the breeze, catch some jokes, and wonder what is in the envelope we were given at registration. Even though we’ve been told not to look until told, the sneakier amongst us have been looking to see whats inside as soon as the envelope was in their hands. And we have grown to about eighty people, in forty teams. We are told to lock our bikes up to our partners in front of the museum and then told to stand across the way about fifty meters away. We’re given some instructions, tell the ladies who are running it to speak louder, berate those who have cheated for opening their envelopes early and then sprint en masse back to our bikes, unlock them and head out.

I hand Budge our envelope as I fiddle with the d-lock which I’ve death clamped our bikes together with and inside is six locations, around the city and a map. I’ve got the camera we were told to bring and we’re off. Now Budge says he’s never been a courier and he’s a riding a bike that Tommy(thebrick) would be proud of, 25’s, back rack, gears, but he hammers it and I’m trailing in his wake as we race to Flinders St station and the bridge that adjoins it, our first destination, along with a couple of other pairs. We’re riding the wrong way down streets, jumping lights, and generally behaving as if this is the most important alleycat in the world. Its mayhem and I’m trying to be legal, but you can’t be legal and keep up, and even being illegal I barely keep up. We get to the bridge and have to reenact Leo’s and Kate’s bow of the ship embrace from Titanic, laughing so hard I can’t keep a straight face we mug for the camera and then its off out towards Collingwood and through Abbotsford, pushing pushing pushing, I’m huffing and my chest feels a little tight so I take a pull on me inhaler, and it doesn’t do much, but it does enough and I feel slightly easier in my breathing, as we hook a quick illegal right and climb the stairs of the three/four storey car park. We alight onto the roof and perform a jump for camera, asking anxiously where we are in the standings but the guardians of the checkpoint lie to us and we depart.

Spinning down the curved multi level drive, swinging wide then leaning and hitting the apex, fingers covering the brake, just to make sure I’m not attaining losing the front velocity. Its another dash across town, this time heading north up Lygon St, slinging it past the general cemetery on our left, and everything starts to look familiar. Been here before. Definitely. As Budge calls out the intersection we’re supposed to meet on I’m ahead of him (mentally if not physically) and I’m turning down to where the park leads you down to Arnold and Macpherson, where the polo boys meet up on Tuesdays and Sundays. Sure enough, they are waiting on the strip of grass with a long skipping rope and as I try to capture budge skipping I get one blurred shot, which the guardians deem to be good enough and we’re heading even further north up Sydney St toward a tattoo parlour.

We come across another couple, male/female this time and ride along, exchanging banter, pulling away then being caught up again. We take a wrong turn, the other couple figure out where they need to be, as me and Budge consult our map, figure out we turned left too early and chase after them. We pull up sharply, and this time we’ve got to give ourselves tattoo’s. I decide on our initials in a heart AB, and budge scrawls something on my neck which I can’t see obviously as its on my neck. I decide we need photo’s just in case they rub off, take a couple of blurry snaps and we head back south to Brunswick, to what I’m overjoyed to realise is the last checkpoint, grabbing a flower as we go – we have to have one, it’s the done thing to give your loved one flowers on Velentines day, dontchaknow.

In a park over by Fitzroy North, we see a bunch of bikes underneath a bandstand, trip up the steps, and are told to eat what looks like a pink jammy dodger without using our hands. Lips barely touching, hands behind our backs, teeth scratching for purchase on the biscuit, like long lost lovers we attempt to devour the morsel, laughing as we do so. Cheek full of sweetness, I follow Budge down a winding course back to the Melbourne museum, over some tram lines, down a tree lined avenue, up the wide expanse of Nicholson St, where the ending awaits.

In my head I still think we’ve got a chance of winning this thing, or at least placing well. Which is blown to the four winds as we turn into the square in front of the museum, and discover there are lots of people lazing around, bikes leant against blocks, posts, strewn carelessly across the ground. The final act of our partnership is for Budge to give me a ‘Dink’ or backie for us of the English persuasion. I sit side saddle across Budge’s rack as he tries to pedal us across the finish line, but we just wobble side ways, never quite attaining the speed required to get and stay upright. Finally we abandon, laughing at our failure and we go up and find out where we placed. Showing the photographic evidence of our participation at each checkpoint, and discover that we placed twentieth of the forty teams that entered. Mid table obscurity, my task here is done.

I grab a couple of six packs from the bottle-ohh (off-licence) and we drink to our success as the sky gets dark and the winners are announced.

Smashing It!

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on February 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

Went out with the Wednesday night Melbourne Ride that meets up every Wednesday (wouldn’t you know it) at 6.30 down by Fed Sq. About fifteen or so riders turned up, and as the sun sank and some conversation was had, as we waited for the last of the late arrivals, headed out towards south Melbourne.

As you do I had a couple of conversations with people as the pace was still sociable, little did I know it wouldn’t be like that all the way along. So I chat and hear that the ride is a random route, which is decided on during the days before by a couple of bods, and is sometime long, sometime short, sometime fast and sometime slow, sometimes big and sometimes small.

Its nice to be out with the people on a ride again, following someone elses, lines, watching how others ride, checking out their bikes in motion.

We head down close to where I’m staying, then turn left and head over to Albert Park, where they are preparing for the starting race of the Formula One season. And as we turn onto the half completed start finish straight, stands still being erected, barriers lining the track, some of the boys put the hammer down, and it stays down as they swing left and right through a chicane and out through the rest of albert park. I get kicked out of the back and try to keep my rhythm, traveling bike is set up for cruising, not for sprinting, and I’m struggling, but eventually the pace slows as we hit Fitzroy St and the St Kilda neighbourhood and pause for a quick breath.

Then we’re off again, pace back to what it was before, up an incline, Melbourne center doesn’t seem to have any hills per se, just long rolling inclines and declines, which don’t seem that steep until you get to the top and look back. So we roll through the just starting to be suburbs, down one long road after another and the pace is nice, high enough to make you feel like your working, but not so fast that you can’t talk. I jump on a wheel here or there and let them drag me along, as we’ve been fighting through a headwind for pretty much the whole ride, and there was much overheard discussion at the beginning about which route to take so that there’s a tailwind to get back.

I can’t take notes as I ride, don’t want the iphone to slip out of hand and shatter on the tarmac, but I want to remember the route so I can map it later, so I’m constantly  checking the cross streets, and looking for the names of the long, looking exactly the same streets we’re on. Mumbling the names under my breath over and over to try and remember them. Tennyson St. St Kilda St. New St. Grenville St, where we cross over some train tracks and I’d told we are in Brighton, I’ve ridden to Brighton even when I’m in Australia. Then its down the beach road back to town.

And the boys hit it, and hit it hard.

For those of you who were there or have heard me tell the story this sprint is as hard as the Cambridge ride, where the sun was out, it was the hottest day of the year and I toiled in the sun, alone and unloved, and wondered when the pace would ever slow down.

The boys in Melbourne like to find the longest straightest, emptiest roads in town and just sprint down it in a long, long line, swapping places, upping the tempo and generally racing like it’s the champs elysess. I’m kicked out of the back early and see them scampering off into the distance and I’m left to toil away, spinning my 64GI and watching the sun set to my left, over the wide expanse of ocean.

Massed along the beach road, on my right, angular and boxy, glass and metal beach houses with patio and landings on them. They are the same, but slightly different, they blur into one. The wind is behind me and it feels like your going downhill even as you crest a rise. Even though I’ve been alone for what seems like forever, kicked out the back like an unwanted puppy in a sack, I’m still riding as hard as I can, I’m getting enough air, my legs ache, but the good kind, and I’m wanting to see what I can still do. The road forks I can either go to St Kilda North or keep left and continue to follow the beach road. I shrug if they’ve gone to St Kilda North and I head along the beach at least I’ll know how to get home from there.

I carry on alone against myself up the beach road, watching the kite surfers get closer and closer, even as they skim across the waves out in the water. I’m back into St Kilda, Luna Parks roller coaster and big wheel on my right, and to my relief, the boys are parked up on the left by the beach, some boys doing running repairs, changing cogs or somesuch. I don’t care I’m just trying to get my wind back.

We stand and chat quietly amongst ourselves and I take some photo’s of the group and the sunset, which is amazing, orange and blood red smeared across the sky, Bolognese with one large meatball slowing slipping beneath the surface. I’m ready to go home, and as I take one last photo and put my camera away, the boys have split.

There’s three of us left, me, a guy called Ben on a nice red bike with no decals, and an older guy, on an ivory alloy frame, with record pista cranks and lovely black shamal wheels, which I find out are tubulars (glue on old shool tyres, rather than new school clincers), which he keeps cleaning with his gloves as he rides along, ala Gerald and Dwayne. We ride along chatting amongst ourselves, about peds not looking when they cross the road, and drivers wanting to take you at as you try and ride along. Old geezer spies the group ahead and says lets go get ‘em. And off he goes, I’m spinning up to full spin to win mode and can’t keep his wheel, Ben comes flashing past me, and I’m left at the tail again, spinning as fast as I can and seeing them edge away with each revolution of my cranks. And I wish I had a bigger gear, if I was at like 69 or 71GI I think I could be up with them, I could be a contender.

We head along the beach road, and end up at a fish and chip shop, like no fish and chip shop I’ve ever seen, and come across another group of fixed boys who have been out on a Wednesday night ride, none of the boys in my dwindling group know them and it’s a little west side story, with us each eyeing the other side up. They split and the rest of the group comes back and finds us and we head off again. Again I’m kicked out the back and a scorching pace is set as we whip down through the docks, past Corporate HQ’s for Ricoh  and others, Weird Scandinavian names ships, red cranes, looming out and over the water, still and silent and there’s just the wind rustling past my ears and the sound of my tyres on the tarmac. One of the guys I forget his name but he’s tall, rides a big bianchi pista with pink oury grips, drops back and takes pity on me and paces me back to where the group has congregated, just before Victoria Harbour.

We turn left, taking the pavement down towards Etihad Stadium, and for the last time I’m kicked out the back, good man on the bianchi waits for me and we turn right up along Latrobe, and then keep riding as it eases up. Then a left onto Elizabeth St and the boys are massed outside an eaterie The Rose Garden BBQ Shop.

I’m soaked with sweat, and my legs are a bit shaky but I’m good and tired. I enjoyed it and I enjoy the two cans of soda and the big plate of vermicelli with chicken and salted fish even more.

Route map image ( now with added web linkage to the scrollable map route) and some photo’s below…

Anagrams a go-go

In ozstraylia, writing on February 22, 2010 at 9:05 am




So I  succeeded in making a nine letter word out of the words above can you guess what it is yet? A prize for the person/s who can also make a nine letter word out of those letters, and whoever makes the same word as I did, hopefully they are the same.

Won a free coffee, I’ll make sure your prize is better than that, and manager of bar seemed rather surprised that I’d come up with a word that contained all the letters, so was I actually, it helped pass the time waiting for the thunderstorm to pass.

They get proper big droplets of rain here, swollen, rotund, fecund, corpulent, rubenesque raindrops. Raindrops that smack you upside of the head and face when you raise your eyes to the sky, heavy hitting raindrops. Cooling the air raindrops.

Tried to sit out the storm and avoid getting soaked to the skin but couldn’t do it. Had to get somewhere and braved the slowing but still persistent downpour. Got a soaking wet, should have put on the mudguard arse, and before you ask I do have one just didn’t figure on the rain, raining for most of the day so didn’t fit it, also the aesthete in me doesn’t like the look of bikes with mudguards so I prefer to be without.

But riding in the rain isn’t too bad here, you still get wet but it feels like a wetter version of sweating profusely, ad even as your top dampens, you know once you stop cycling and get under covers the heat will dry everything out in half an hour or so.

But standing around for that half an hour waiting for your soggy arse to dry out isn’t the nicest feeling in the world.

One good thing about Australia in the wet is because of the big permanent awnings they have on the main shopping streets is that you can walk along out of the rain, ad stay relatively dry, until you need to cross the road or there’s a break in the continuous awning for an old building, which is pretty cool…

Just hoping the rains done for the evening so I don’t get a soggy arse on the way back south from Carlton.

Bar thoughts

In out and about, ozstraylia, writing on February 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

Southpaw, Gertrude St, Fitzroy

I sit in a bar the air conditioning cooling me as much as the chilled bottle placed on the back of my neck moments previously. Held there for deliciously long seconds. Watching the people pass by framed by the window, dressed up, dressed down, hardly dressed at all.

Women pass a bounce in their stride, eyes dark lensed, hair up, neck exposed, wonder if they’ve cooled themselves with a cold bottle to the back of the neck as well. Arms bare, legs bare, resolutely untanned, black vest and pants? in this weather, desire to appear thinner, stronger than being cool? Even see an appearance from the dreaded sun dress over trousers – is not thirty degrees hot enough to show the flesh that you stand upon.

The sun makes long shadows as it settles lower in the sky, cyclists pass by helmets worn like berets, seats too low, knees by their ears, chains rusty and brown, a dirty sanchez across their ankles.

Empty bottles litter the bar, music, female voice and a twanging guitar mix with the burble of predominently female voices, laughter sprinkled intermittently into it. Voices raised as a plate is lost to gravity, ratttling across the tiled floor.

Smell my own sweat, honest toil of cycling exertion, set into the fabric. Wonder at the amount of moisture a body can produce, will I keep producing it indefinitely?

Rub hand through non existent hair and know it’s time to cut it, trim it until the rest of my scalp shows through, irritated by the wisps on my upper lip, and know they will have to go as well.

Turn back to the window and wait for someone else to pass by who will pique my interest…

Superbowl Sabotage!!!

In ozstraylia, tunnnneeeee! on February 22, 2010 at 8:50 am

I’m standing in the Turf Bar on Queens St Melbourne watching the Superbowl, it’s halftime and the New Orleans Saints have dragged themselves back to close to parity, and The Who all sixty years old of them are playing the halftime show and I’m standing wondering why aren’t the Beastie Boys doing it? Or any other musical outfit that has been relative, and widely well known to the American populace.

Who programmes this shit and have they listened to nothing new in the last thirty years. The Who for fuckssakes when were they last relevant? I know their songs are plastered all across CSI, but come on?!!!!

I yearn to hear Sabotage played at ear splitting volume right before the teams race out onto the field.

It just makes you realise how mainstream and AOR the States really are, it’s like in their minds the last thirty years of hip hop doesn’t exist, and I’m not even talking about the challenging shit!!!

interesting muso mumblings and stumblings about the decision/set list/ability to play their instruments from the all seeing, all knowing guardian

Where have all the house parties gone???

In out and about, ozstraylia, tunnnneeeee! on February 22, 2010 at 8:44 am

Never believe when someone tells you there’s a slamming house party later, after really good club/festival/lane party which you’ve been too during the evening, the ensuing after party is inevitably a let down. Then you get into the thorny issue of when to leave, because the people who invited you haven’t even rolled up yet!

Bail and go home or bail and go someplace else these are questions that need answering….

I think I was spoiled by house parties when I was younger the effort that went into sorting out decks, dj’s, a pa, nobody bothers with that shit anymore it’s just an iPod attached to a speaker and some really random tunes which no one dances to but provides an atmosphere that the party itself lacks. I prefer the old school version less talking more big tunes coming, more people dancing why have a party otherwise because the conversations kinda banal and shit ain’t gonna change, but through the redemptive power of dance and sweat and exertion we are purged of our sins….

And we allow space for joy to uplift us.

Believe when I get back to London, I will host an old school house party, decks, big speakers and some moody bod to man the bar nee kitchen area, plastic cups for everybody and one rum and coke to last you the night.

Obviously this will be done before I get all of my shit out of storage…

And you are obviously all cordially invited, just as long as you don’t start asking for bullshit tunes…

Lane Party @ St Ali’s

In bike, ozstraylia on February 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

So David’s Bridgestone is banging and whilst out on it (don’t get any ideas its too small for me and I was out trying to get the front brake lever sorted so we could put on the clamp on front brake) I came across a Lane Party down on Yarra Place in front of a locally renowned coffee shop/café/bar called St Ali’s. Decks at one end of the narrow lane, big speakers, grafitti boys, spraying up big pieces, using scaffolding and everything, on the walls, skaters doing tricks down the other end, and a wide variety of fixed bikes, being wheeled, or locked up around the place. A veritable cornucopia of the young and fashionable, drinking beer, and chatting and doing a bit of dancing, and drinking more beer. Which I have come to realize was actually cheap for Melbourne, which is why so many were drinking so much.

So I’m leaning on the Bridgestone watching an artist put up a piece, nodding my head to the tunes, when a couple comes up and the young lady compliments me on the Bridgestone, I tell her it isn’t mine, but my friends’ I’m just looking after it for the day, nervously riding with clips and straps for the first time in years, trying to make sure I don’t fall off and chip the paintwork, ding the frame etc, etc.  Sexy bikes are a blessing and a curse.

So anyway the girl Caitlin, and her boy, Daniele and I get chatting and I get introduced to a whole load of cool people, a couple of whom work for a promotions outfit/agency called the Phat Kids, some of whose DJ’s are playing at the party, and whose next big hip hop show is unfortunately after I leave Melbourne.

So we hang out, we drink, we dance to some tunes and I have a great time, and I couldn’t have done it without the Bridgestone!

Find below photo’s of the finished grafitti, I didn’t have my camera with me at the time, so photo’s of the people aren’t available. Reminder to self, carry camera with you at all times..

Melbourne 1st night out

In out and about, ozstraylia, travelling on February 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

So whilst I sit with a chilled bottle of cider and some duck wantons in the late afternoon sun in Melbourne outside a chi chi eatery on Brunswick st, I’ve got to tell you what happened last night before I forget.

So David, who I’m here to see and who I’m staying with, and my good self, after he’s put the kids to bed head out into the Melbourne night to visit a couple of bars, it’s my second night in Melbourne and I’m eager to see what this city has to offer, now the grey skies have dissipated and the rain has stopped.

We can’t find the first bar, we end up on a short residential street where no bar has ever opened it’s doors. We find the Aviary which is nice, will go back there, the DJ played a loose end tunes which I haven’t heard for years which was good enough for me. We drink a couple than roll slowly down to the Gin Palace which is in the CBD (central business district) to meet Tim from the forum whose back home for a couple of days before he and his girlfriend go on a road trip to Sydney. We end up drinking a couple there, and chatting shit as you do with Tim’s friends and a stranger who wants to sit with us whilst he waits 20moms for his friends to arrive and an hour and a half later is still waiting whilst finishing the dregs of a bottle of champagne he bought for the table.

We bail because David’s got to be up early to get the kids to circus school in Prahran ( pronounced parahnnn) anyway we turn left onto a main street to cross a bridge an are confronted with several cop cars parked along the road and the jetsam and flotsam of a Friday nights drinking in Melbourne waiting for transportation. There are cars and buses double parked in both directions and one free lane to get through.

I can see a car desperately edging forward out from behind a bus into the one clear lane but that doesn’t bother me, I’m on a bike I can squeeze past anything. So I ride down the center of the lane and so does he, we meet predictably in the centre and the young Asian/oriental driver starts gesturing at me i look hard at him, he edges forwards like he wants to run me off the road, I stand my ground, he gets more agitated, and makes to get out of the car I’m on a bike so I move round and past his car to the left because I can I’m on a bike no gap too small, no lane too big as I’m about ten feet past he actually is now out of the car ad shouting at me in heavily accented English, about how I shouldn’t be on the road, how I should make space for him, I know I shouldn’t but I start laughing at his accent – to be clear I only speak English and some would say badly at that and his English was better than any of my attempts to speak any other language. David rolls in because he’s got my back and he senses a fight in the air, but I can’t take Asian one seriously so continue to laugh, his friend is now out of the car and is trying to get me to leave, and calm the situation down, whilst also trying to intimidate me, neither of them reaches to my shoulder. I do not feel intimidated and I’m not going to fight them, and I still find it hilarious. Asian guys accent makes me think he’s had one too many and I point at David to leave, we pedal off and still laughing at what’s just happened I miss the tram tracks and as my wheel gets caught in it, I eat asphalt before I know what’s happened. The fall makes me laugh even harder as I check my extremities and realize I’ve suffered a grazed knee and scrapped elbow. As passersby come and offer assistance I wave them off laughing all the time at my accident being caused by the Asian guy and his anger at the effrontery of me on my bike being on his road. I laugh all the way back to south Melbourne.

I can’t stop laughing even when I’m hackin up my lungs coughing from the bout of bronchitis that I suffered in Tokyo and am only just getting over.

And I can’t stop laughing as I type this on my iPhone even as the other diners stare at me…..

The Anchor

In bike, japan, ozstraylia on February 22, 2010 at 8:22 am

David’s bridgestone Anchor is lovely. See pic for the full gorgeousness, not sure whether it’s the aerospoke or the pristine paintjob(got to be the aerospoke) that is garnering envious glances wherever it goes. I understand why people build up the really bright bikes, why people lust after aerospokes, there is something inherently cool with them. I suddenly discovered a hankering for a Spinergy Rev X, which I want to roll along on, and now I wish I’d bought a sexier bike with me, something that will provoke gasps and pointed fingers and double takes as the bridgestone does. But alas I’ve only got the traveling bike which is built for comfort and solidity, rather than drop dead gorgeousness. But I have stickered it up since last you saw it, so it is moving closer to being hipper than it was.

On a bike related note, bought a couple of good luck charms, when I was out at the golden pavilion in Kyoto (see attached picture), the blue one is good luck, and the purple one is road safety, shintoism is nothing if not a pragmatic religion, and I’m like what the hey every little helps, I’ll be on the road for a year so someone/thing looking down and possibly giving me a bit of protection can’t be all bad. Anyway I tie them onto the seat rails and head out into Tokyo. And what do you know, the road safety one doesn’t even last the day. I’m working under the thoughts that, obviously I don’t need it, which is why it didn’t hold on for very long..