Sunday, 18 October 2009

Seriously

Today marked the start of getting serious about hills again. I've been dabbling for the last few months and it's been going well. I suspect that last year I pushed too hard for too long and ended up paying dearly.

Last year I went hard, really hard, right through winter. Come spring I was exhausted and a flu got me. I compounded that with a crack at the Great Southern Randonee, and ended up really sick. That really put a dampener on the whole summer. This year I've done a few Audax rides, a bit of racing, some training on the track and a bit of commuting. Most importantly, I've taken time to recover, and kept it fun. Yes, I've gone out on days that I'd rather not, but still managed to find some fun in it.

Now, I'm as fit and as fast as I've ever been. I've got a new bike and a partner who encourages and guides me as an athlete. Coming up, I've got some big challenges. Fitz's Epic, the Tour of Bright, Alpine Delight and of course the Alpine itself. (I'm hoping to have a crack at track racing too this summer.) I know it's considered bad manners by some, but I really want to set a decent time for the Alpine this year. Last year my performance was crap and I want to do way better this year.

With this in mind I set out this morning for a little jaunt up Mt Donna Buang and back. (Most of the route I took is here but the tosser phone ran out of battery 10k from home.) Of course I didn't go straight there, I took the scenic route over the Dandenongs. What did I discover?
  • That a cheese sandwich, an apple scroll and two bottles of water is not enough to do 155km in the hills at a decent pace.
  • That it takes me a while to find a rhythm on a decent hill. I fluctuated for a while between too hard and too soft. It took about 4km to find a rhythm where I could hold a heart-rate of about 165-168 consistently and my cadence around 80.
  • That a 39-23 is probably a bit too high a gear for me to climb Donna Buang at present. Only just...
  • That knicks, lycra jersey, arm warmers and fingerless gloves is not enough gear to descend Donna Buang when it's 3 degrees C on top. Ooops.
  • That I have a heap of work to do.
I saw an interview with Liza Minnelli on ABC2 tonight where she said that the secret to remaining fit and healthy is curiosity. I hope to keep my riding and everything else, curious...

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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bike Hate

OK - I've settled down enough to be vaguely rational now. This week has seen a new wave of weirdness in the media about cyclists on the road. You'll all be aware of Magda and Julia.

The Melbourne Age also published this piece of rubbish journalism.

First Magda and Julia. The little comedic rant is insidious because it fulfills all of the normal patterns for vilification of a minority group.

  • Firstly, pick a group with easily identifiable differences. The colour of their skin, an accent, head scarves or in this case lycra and cleated shoes.
  • Then repeat commonly held generalisations about the members of the group as though they apply to all members of the group. If we were talking Australian Aborigines, racists would say they are all drunks, unemployed, criminals and have no value for work or property. In this instance, cyclists all break the road laws and ride in lycra on Beach Road on a Saturday morning.
  • Next dehumanise them. They're not like us. They are outside of our normative patterns. Speak a different language/wear different clothes/have different standards of behaviour.
  • Finally, because they are so different, this group are not worthy of the protection of our societal standards of law, fairness and human rights. Their lives are therefore worth less than ours, and they can be harmed or killed in summary fashion.

This is exactly the way this rant went down. Imagine the uproar if the target had been
Aborigines, Jews, disabled people or homosexuals. Most of the non-cyclist responses on forums and so on have been, "come on, it's a comedy show, they were sending up those ideas". Again, a common defence of vilification.

The problem is that this rant is really how a significant proportion of motorists think about cyclists. I know from almost daily experience, and these people are hurtling around in a two tonne steel weapon. It's important that people in the media don't reinforce these societal patterns of abuse and vilification against minorities. It leads to people making bad decisions in the heat of the moment. When they are angry, scared or confused. Instead of using logic, they can resort to these bad patterns of discrimination and reaction.

Now the Age article... It is simply a case of a journalist taking what is really a bike safety message campaign from the police and turning it into a story about law and order crackdown against those lawless cyclists. Listen to the message from the police, then read the editorial wording and the headline. There is no connection. Just unmitigated crap!

All this at the start of what should be a great month for cyclists. Bike Week, Around the Bay, Ride to Work Day, the start of Daylight Saving, Herald-Sun Tour and on and on.

I'm left sitting here at my computer wondering what to do. Teetering between useless rage and throwing empty words at my keyboard...

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