Thursday, 31 May 2007

Be not judged by the colour of your knicks

One of my favourite daily reads is Belgiumkneewarmers. Radio Freddy’s entertaining commentary provides educative, insightful information. I learn something new with each update to his blog. Today’s rave is about the colour of knicks, and the changing nature of knick colour etiquette.

(photo: Giro d'Italia, yesterday's stage. AFP photo)

Now this got me thinking about my own colour preferences, and the sights (for me, usually from behind) of knickdom in bunches, training and racing. I have a colleague who vehemently objects to wearing black knicks. Why? I am not sure (maybe I should ask her??). Perhaps being so slight and tiny, she is worried about disappearing altogether under the weight of black’s slimming attributes?? She is a red girl, and it suits her.

My own knicks tend to be black, usually with some kind of trim feature to lift the knicks from nondescript to stylish (ok.. some would debate that). Some of my knicks have coloured side panels, or coloured stitching or piping in relief. I have my club colours, which, up until this year, were bright mid-blue and bright deep yellow. I quite like them, and I also don’t mind a nice straight blue knick, as a change from utilitarian black. I secretly desire a deep purple pair of knicks, but have yet to find a comfortable pair to fit, and of course, I would then have to buy a jersey to match.

The white knick is the most dangerous of knicks, and it takes a good weight of material, and neat curve of figure to carry it off. White knicks are the antiknick, or perhaps, the uberknick. If a pair of knicks is going to do damage to your figure and reputation, it’s going to be white knicks. Or, the mother of the white knick, the white skinsuit (see Anna Meares in the latest Ride mag – ed #36. Sorry Anna.). White trim discretely panelled into another basic colour of knick may work, but beware the allover white knicks.

Colour is, of course, complemented (or not) by sheen – matt or high gloss. High gloss, even in black, can be as damaging as white, or look like you have drenched yourself with the contents of your bidon. Matt can be, well, dull and boring and give the impression that your knicks need a good wash to bring back the sparkle that never was. Matt can also signify recreational, usually accompanied by a yellow fluoro upper garment of some description.

Knick selection is also determined by time of day. Under lights, highly coloured, glossy knicks can be more visually appealing for, say a track meet crowd. Daytime knicks can be more workmanlike, as in office wear. So save your good cocktail party knicks for the boards at night under lights, ensuring of course, that they are not threadbare nor of lesser material. Otherwise, you may well be nicked by the knicknazis for overexposure, or just poor taste.

Monday, 28 May 2007

A cyclist again

Leg soreness, muscle fatigue, CNS fatigue, post ride hunger, legs that won’t sleep, a body that doesn’t want to do anything but just lie there… I had forgotten about all these signs of a good training ride (or two) until this weekend.

Mr Legs, Mr Univac and I rode 110km on Saturday, followed by a jaunt through the Dandenongs, accompanied by TrackGodmother, She Who has Spoke(n) on Sunday. No big deal, just a usual training weekend, except this time, it’s the first time I have ridden around the 100km mark since before Nationals in March. Yup, that long ago! Backing it up with hills the next day nicely iced my little cupcake. I had forgotten what it is to feel stiff, heavy, sore muscles, legs that keep you awake when you desperately need to be asleep, a brain that keeps you awake when your body desperately needs to be asleep. I was reminded of what it feels like the day after a session of standing starts, pursuit efforts, sprint efforts, a Glenvale crit after a training ride in the morning. I think I am a cyclist again.

Highlights were: finding the strength, after100km of riding, to ramp it up to pass a guy on a mountain bike who had been levelpegging with us, on the climb out of Ringwood, crossing Mt Dandenong/Maroondah Highway intersection at 33 kph. Suck on that mtb boy! Feeling pretty good when we got home after the ride, although a bit leg sore. Blowing up halfway between Sassafras and Olinda on Sunday, crawling into Olinda and sitting on the bench outside the coffee shop, making friends with Daphne the young blond Labrador as an excuse to sit down NOW! Not being able to finish my piece of fig cake at the cafe, because my guts had closed shop thanks to the effort of climbing the 1:20. Eating like a horse all Sunday afternoon when my stomach finally re-opened shop. Best bit – lying on the couch late Saturday afternoon with my legs up the back of the couch, eating rum n raisin old gold chocolate. (Sorry Coach!!)

Friday, 25 May 2007

Power of Dreams.....

News broke late last week that the final outcome for Alex Simmons’ close encounter with a bollard (see earlier post) was lower leg amputation. Alex is posting to the fixedgearfever forum, and sounds powerfully positive post-op, keen to get into rehab, keen to get back on the bike with new gusto. His resoluteness and spunk facing his situation is compelling.

Regularly through our lives we hear of, or experience, “tragic” events, events we believe would or should knock people for 6, but they don’t. Sometimes it takes something extreme to reveal our mettle, our capacities and capabilities. Recently I have been reading a few biographies – Graeme Obree, Lauren Burns, Ric Charlesworth and currently Alyson Annan. All have faced adversity of one kind or another, and come through stronger for it, proving that if you want something badly enough, if you need it badly enough, you can make it happen. I think that’s why playing sport is so popular. It provides a forum in which to challenge ourselves, to grow and develop. It also teaches us to be in the moment, facilitates removal from everyday humdrums and stresses, revealing strengths and weaknesses, and providing a way to enrich the strengths, analyse and diminish the weaknesses.

But, we have to know what it is we truly want or need. We have to know ourselves to be true to our self, and honour what lies within. I think this is where people come unstuck – they are unsure of what lies within, unsure of what it is that they truly want or need. For many reasons we ignore or deny or fail to recognise who and what we are, and may be too readily distracted or waylaid. Sometimes we do it to ourselves, purposefully or not, sometimes we let others take the lead for us, sometimes shit happens.

An event like Alex’s experience reminds us to live each moment, take every opportunity, all the clich├ęs about actively living your life, maximising opportunities, appreciating what we have (usually out of fear of the threat of one day losing it!!). But what does all the really, truly mean? It means when that first interval really hurts (in a different way to the very last interval), we have to know, intrinsically, why we are doing it. It means that when our eyes are popping out of our skull from the effort as we sprint for last place across the finish line, we know why we are doing it. It means that when you get up at 4 am to train before work you know why you are doing it. It means when we say no to a late night out with mates, we know, and they know, why we are doing it. It means when we line up for a Big Deal tm race that we have no hope of placing in, we know why we are there. It means that when we line up for a Big Deal tm race we have trained hard for, planned for, obsessed about, can win, we know why we are there. We know we are honouring what lies within, honouring and respecting who we are.

All power to you Alex.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

On Sweeney's Bike

Am doing base kms at the moment, so nothing exciting to report: Got on bike, pedalled for a few hours, got off bike. Ate. Put legs up. Repeat the next day. I have a supersweet new saddle, the specialized jett. It's an excellent saddle and to be recommended if you are in the market for a new saddle that minimises grief.

Cyclingnews today reported on a thing called the Sweeney Sports Report, an annual report produced by Australian-based Sweeney Researchers. The import of this report was it’s indication of the status of cycling in Australia. The report ranks cycling as equal 3rd in terms of participation (behind swimming and… bushwalking/hiking!!!!) This means of all the sporting activities that people participate in, cycling is equal 3rd on the list. In terms of public interest, it ranks 9th, which is up there.

Friday, 11 May 2007

A picture of the future...

One day, a start at a women's track race will look like this....

(photo taken from fixed gear fever, taken from