12 December 2012

09 December 2012

Simple Hills

Of all the cruel hoaxes foisted upon us over the years skip's call for a 'simple hills' ride surely ranks atop the list. Not since Bill Clinton's 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman' has a statement rung so hollow. As elusive as truth is in cycling - skip's effort officially abandons our search for it.

Harley's spanking new shoes sparkled with personality and purpose. Could he be our Cinderella Man and the Pinarello an Italian pumpkin? A midnight run, a la Paris, could be a revelation.  

The average age of today's peloton plunged from the usual 49.83 to a demographically scary    42.22 with the arrival of Jason, Nano & Roo. A triumvirate of testosterone matched with will and capability to inflict new levels of pain. They had to be closely managed and a fiendish but ultimately unsuccessful ploy to attack early and often fell on deaf ears and dull legs given that Bob was channelling old Gunner's intransigence. 

Syd displayed the benefit of spin class with a cadence of prestissimo intensity coupled with extended periods out of the saddle just to feel some burn in the quads. 

At Chandlers' summit there were rumours that the Clarendon bakery was open but these were scotched as malicious gossip designed to taunt the fatigued and vulnerable.

The descent was speedy and recuperative.

Back in the suburbs via the veloway the group splintered - Tobin, Bob and Syd  
to their domiciles and the balance to Stranded Cafe for debrief and caffeine.

The end

04 December 2012

The Call of Summer

The summer season starts with a single ride. It's a 'door-to-door' saunter that kisses the city and hugs the coast with bookended cafes that draws the smokkelaars from their post winter lethargy.

There are plenty of the Euro 2012 chapter on hand with the group bolstered by Rapha Lush, two Balls and P Didi/2.

This ride isn't about form because form is fleeting. This ride is about style; and skip steals the show with his Focus Cayo equipped with Di2 technology. The flamboyant, idiosyncratic Jelly Belly has been reduced to a folly by a masterpiece in achromatic understatement with a dash of rouge to respectfully reference its more scene-stealing predecessor.
The early pace is kind and the banter crisp as we negotiate the cobble-like vibrations of Anzac Highway. Lush and Harley exert some pedal pressure and what looks like a successful breakaway is thwarted by the traffic light gods. Curly has established a conversation that lasts the entire ride - and this from a man who does his best work off the bike. Paul is surfing the comfort of the couch at the back of the peloton but even that feather-soft luxuriating can get uncomfortable as time passes. The two Balls are keeping a close eye on one another with David's Orbea eminently more capable of attack than the carrier bejewelled steeler. Alistair pushes the big crank as is his want and is more vigilant than most as we pass the treacherous undulations at Crow corner - once testimony to premiership glory but now where Triggy stands rattling a tin looking for loose change to get him through to July.

All this with a trailing breeze that sweeps us effortlessly to Croydon and another coffee to punctuate the introductory ride to the summer season. The cyclo boys will be plying their trade next Sunday so their legs are smooth and twitching with anticipation.

Skip declares this the season of the photo essay with each smokkelaar to be a contributor - and like the season, it starts here.
The end

29 October 2012

Europe 2012


Amsterdam - 1 Euro fine (no helmet)

Vinsobres Bistro

Mont Ventoux Crew

Como Contemplation

Cannondale Dreaming




05 October 2012

25 February 2012

Pics of the ride

Hi guys, a few pics from the early stages of my journey [9/2-Bali-Lombok-East Java-25/2]

Riding up to the start of the volcano climb in Lombok.

Seriously contemplating my sanity and god knows what else on the climb to the volcano Rinjani, Lombok.

Stumpjumper happy with the in-crowd at the ferry from Lombok to Bali.

Big meal but delicious. Indonesian know how to cook. Soto Ayam [chicken soup] with rice.

Just about to go descend in the rain high on a pass in Bali. Only time I've worn my helmet.

Old timer water bottle mixes with the lads.

The truck of Mr samsul who gave Stumpjumper and myself a lift on top of the volcanic gravel needed to stop 4 times during our 50 k ride down and up the steep undulating slopes towards Malang. He would let the tire cool a little, then wash it and kept pouring water over the tires. Truckies love the monsoon!

Short tales

My new map of Java is huge. Java is huge. Fair to say I changed it’s typography in a radical way. Without bloodshed, mind you. The colonist in me got the Swiss Army knife out and I cut complete archipelago’s and seas off. From the top and from the bottom. I figured they’ve got plenty of islands and water anyway.
The previous map I used - Bali on one side, Lombok on the other - has been used and reshaped so much that it’s held together by it’s ink. It’s a disgrace how a lover of print can vandalize it.

Riding over Java’s roads, every so often I hear from afar a guy, advertising Allah and begging for money through an old PA system. On approach I spot 4 collectors on each side of the road, itself a near suicidal experiment and they collect coins and notes from passing traffic. It’s for the mosque, I have been told. When they spot me their hands and buckets go out and I can tell that the PA man has spotted me. [I even heard: “American”], as I pedaled by. I sometimes reverse the gesture and ask them for a donation. They find that very funny and shout me all sorts of well-wishes as I disappear into the distance.

Food discovery
I eat primarily from outside stalls now. Warung is the Indonesian name of shops where you can eat and drink and they range from filthy to spotless. I have noticed that the cleaner they are, the better service, the cheaper and the nicer the people are. Typical. Rice and noodles are the main staples but they come in many different forms.
Soto Ayam [Chicken soup], Bakso [Noodle soup], Martabak [pastry], Pisang goreng [BBQ-ed banana], Avocado juices and Tikan goreng [Fried fish] have been the best discovery.

Good old Bertrand has been behaving well although today he played up a little. The Brooks saddle definitely is a massive improvement but both my riding shorts have seen better days and I need to buy new ones.

He is loving it. Has had rides on beach roads, country roads, vivid climbs, hair raising descents, been over a fair few volcanoes and has crossed many bridges. AnParticipated in manic city traffic, took rests against banana, palm, and bamboo. And in not so pretty decors. He hitched rides on the back of 2  small trucks, and on one bigger truck on top of a pile of volcanic sand. And all that with a 100 kg + guy on board. He is not fazed. I can’t hear anything rattling except for when I rode around with two broken spokes.

Officer Sigit Pramono
A tough looking copper. All Indonesian coppers look tough with immaculate costumes and a fair dose of bling and insignia. Behind the mask shelters a caring 35-year old man and a father of two young boys, who offered me an old couch in an even older back office, and a mandi [wash room] in the police station of Candipuro in East Java. He and I did not change many words but he looked after me and Stumpjumper. It was a very special night as I sat with a few coppers watching Indonesian television and looking outside to the sunset over the Semeru volcano. The scanner radio crackling all night.

Three times I have hit the deck on this trip. That is more than in all my previous bike touring trips together. I partly blame stress and lack of concentration on it. The first time I was stuffed when trying to find accommodation in Mataram, Lombok. I bumped into a suv who bumped into my front wheel but there was no damage on suv nor on Stumpjumper. I lost some skin on my knee. The second time I was riding “too slow” and lost control over the bike with full packing as I hit a pothole. “Beng”, on the ground. The third timd was the hardest fall but I escaped with a bit of a sore hand and Stumpjumper showed no damage at all. I turned off at a beach side cafe and slipped hard on very slippery stones. My front wheel went and I went after it. Quite a smack.

The first week I had quite a few things going wrong. Lost bank card, but also equipment, and other upsetting stuff. It affected my riding. I think that I have dealt with that now and I’m riding free. Form is coming.

I stored my golden fleece somewhere away when I was packing all my things up. [I have rented my house for 10 months]. So no fleece on the trip. It would have been stored in my panniers for a long time though. My gut would have protested. I’ve had a fair bit of monsoonal rain on my trip but I am happy to announce that my beautiful white Vaude rain jacket now fits! My profile has been reduced.

While riding my thoughts are with Skipper who does so much for the team and for Harley who's had a nasty fall. With such a big trip for them coming up these must be difficult times. Hang in there boys!