Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm glad I'm not getting paid to do this

I'm glad I'm not getting paid to do this ... I'd be broke by now.

Three months between posts is a very poor effort. I've been, um, busy. No excuses, and I'm also finally smart enough not to promise "I'll be a better blogger and post every day".

Because I won't.

But enough of the welcoming preamble! Down to the meat and potatoes.

I've started racing - on my bike, not in my rally car.

Despite being a little battered (my ego, if not my body) by my adventures in France in July, I decided a couple of moths ago it was time for a new challenge on the bike.

In Melbourne (and apparently most of Australia) summer means Crit (Criterium) season. St Kilda Cycling Club (I'm a member) hold them every Sunday morning.

As do Caulfield Carnegie Cycling Club. Southern Vets have their's on a Thursday night. There are a number of others (Hawthorn, Brunswick and so on), but St Kilda is my "home" circuit.

The idea is simple - you ride around a basic street circuit, which is usually in an industrial area so the streets can be closed on a Sunday for a few hours. St Kilda's circuit is actually in South Melbourne, although it looks more like Port Melbourne - off Williamstown Rd, near Montague St. Warehouse & small factory land. Very quiet on a Sunday morning.

Two grades at once on the circuit - E and B, then C and A. Slower group gives way to the faster group who pass on the right hand side. Can get a little messy in the tighter corners (more on that in a minute) but it seems to work.

St. Kilda's circuit is probably about 1km around - two easy corners, two that are tighter. If I was in the rally car, turns one & three would be 3rd gear (i.e: fast), turns 2 and 4 are very much 2nd gear corners (slow). Cornering at speed on the bike is a little like in the rally car: keep your head up, look for the exit not the entry. Except you're on 2 very bloody skinny tires, leaning the bike to one side, and there are 20 or 30 other people all trying to get around at the same time as you are, and everyone has a slightly different view of where the correct line is.

Here's a hint - once you commit to a line, don't change it mid corner. I did on Sunday, was soundly abused and probably deserved it.

Depending on the grade, you ride laps for, say 35 minutes (D grade) then it's a 3 lap charge for the finish. There is a sign they hold up at the start / finish line showing "3", then it's "2", then - you may have guessed it - they ring a bell for the bell lap.

Prize money for 1st to 3rd, and a promotion to the next grade.

Simple? Sound like a nice Sunday morning ride with some mates? Sure it does ..

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