The hell of the North(cote)

Melburn Roobaix reconfirmed its place on the cycling calendar yesterday with more than 2000 riders taking to the streets, paths, lanes and drains. 

Inspired by the famous Paris-Roubaix pro race, the local version is a whole lot more relaxed – 40 km in six hours, a dozen sectors of cobbled laneways paying homage to the original and a non-UCI finish at the Roubaix Roobaix (Brunswick) velodrome.

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Bring back the bike budget

Bring back the bike budgetThe road to reinstating Victoria’s bike infrastructure budget could be long and hard, but not for want of enthusiasm by Melbourne’s cyclists.

Well over 500 cyclists braved one of Melbourne’s most miserable mornings to turn up to Bicycle Network Victoria’s pre-work rally on the steps of Parliament on Thursday.

They were treated to a good speech from CEO Harry Barber and a good event with lots of photo ops, many of which made the papers and evening news.

Numerous cyclists were bewildered that a modern government willing to court the all-conquering Cadel Evans and spruik our Bike City status could be so planning-illiterate as to cancel such a program. What’s next? Our rights to the road?

Cyclists braved the weather for a before-work rallyThe infrastructure program is peanuts in terms of the state budget. We probably spend more each year on cars and drivers for State Ministers.

If those same Ministers spent a week on a bike – even during business hours – we’d see enough savings to reinstate the whole program, as well as the will to do so.

A new militancy?

Melbourne cyclists will rally on the steps of Parliament House tomorrow morning to protest the state government’s decision to scrap its key bike infrastructure budget. We flagged the hypocrisy of this decision last month.

There’s more of course. Last year the Minister for Roads and Public Transport Terry Mulder lambasted the former government over an Auditor-General’s report that found Labor ’s Victorian Cycling Strategy fell short of what was needed to mainstream cycling. Well, we knew that but at least they had a strategy.

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Prologue done and dusted

You’d be hard pressed to find more laughs on a cold winter night than the Dirty Deeds Cyclocross prologue on Friday. Maybe it’s just cyclists, or the commentary and cowbells. Or perhaps the occasional beer.

Either way, Brunswick velodrome saw a huge crowd as over 140 riders mashed the infield for two hours, resplendent with the awesome Spiral of Death.
The spiral of death
The DDCX Spiral of Death, courtesy baudman

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Signs of the ‘cross …

Did you hear the one about the chick who walks into a bike shop and asks about new season’s ‘cross bikes? And doesn’t get asked, ‘You mean a hybrid?’

True story. Passing a LBS today, I dropped in to see if I’m missing anything in terms of little cx bikes. And there was an LBS-guy who knew about cross, that their brands don’t come small enough, and that other women have had the same issue. Impressive. 

CX is a new category for Aussie bike shops, and as with road we can only hope the big brands might add a smaller size to the range every couple of years. DDCX 2012 datesIt just doesn’t help those of us who missed out on the tall genes. Giant plans to have one in the 2013 range but I haven’t seen the geometry yet. 

Around 25 per cent of the B grade women at the Coburg round of Dirty Deeds last year were on petite custom frames or custom builds.  

This LBS excitement is the fourth sign this week that cross has really arrived down under.

First, portable barriers appeared in the park on Monday as part of someone’s sekrit training. And no, I’m not saying who.

Second, ‘see you Friday’ clearly means the DDCX prologue without explanation. Under lights. At Brunswick. Two more sleeps …

And third, news from Cyclocross Magazine that Katie Compton will start her season in NZ. That’s practically interstate!

The language of dooring

Doorings have been a hot topic of late as a Parliamentary committee concludes hearings on a Bill to curb injuries by tripling fines and incurring demerit points.

Doorings spiked in 2009 and 2010 but the impetus for change stems from the fatal dooring of James Cross in Hawthorn in 2010 and the subsequent coronial inquest.

So the reporting of a high-profile dooring on Thursday night was as welcome as the subtext was thought-provoking.

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Aussie cycling’s rainbow stripes

Congratulations to Caroline Buchanan and Sam Willoughby – our latest cycling world champions.

Caroline took the rainbow stripes in the elite women’s time trial and Sam won the elite men’s at the BMX world titles in Birmingham UK on the weekend.

Great work from SBS Cycling Central to bring us prime time highlights amidst the Giro, and The Age for this piece on Buchanan.

By my reckoning, that makes 17 current UCI world titles. 

Caroline Buchanan         2012 Elite Women time trial
Sam Willoughby              2012 Elite Men

Anna Meares                     2012 Women’s 500 metre time trial
Anna Meares                     2012 Women’s keirin
Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, Matthew Glaetzer     2012 Men’s team sprint
Glenn O’Shea                    2012 Men’s omnium
Michael Hepburn           2012 Men’s individual pursuit
Cameron Meyer              2012 Men’s points race
Taylah Jennings              2011 Women’s Junior omnium (August)
Georgia Baker, Taylah Jennings, Emily Roper   2011 Women Jnr team pursuit
Caleb Ewan                        2011 Men’s Junior omnium
Jaron Gardiner                2011 Men’s Junior 1km time trial
Jack Cummings, Alex Edmondson, Jackson Law, Alexander Morgan                                                   2011 Men’s Junior team pursuit
Alex Edmondson, Jackson Law     2011 Men’s Junior madison

Jessica Allen                    2011 Women’s Junior time trial
Luke Durbridge              2011 Men’s U23 time trial

Troy Brosnan                  2011 Men’s Junior downhill (September)
Jess Douglas                    2012 Women’s 24 hour solo (non UCI)
Jason English                   2012 Men’s 24 hour solo (non UCI)

Bruise season

DDCX skills wrap-upYesterday saw my second episode of ‘cages on, cages off’ for the year – otherwise known as cx skills practice coming up to bruise season.

The Dirty Deeds Cyclocross gang ran a women’s skills session in April and a unisex session yesterday, with tips from the DDCX crew and Lewis Rattray (cx world cups and world champs). The sun was out and riders were happily playing in the park, refining dismounts, remounts, barrier clearing (mostly) and shouldering (hence cages off), followed by tyre pressure talk.

Of course bruise season also means it’s time to start buying lottery tickets again, in aid of a lighter, dedicated cross bike so I can leave the cages off most of the time.

Roll on cross season!

Bike City gets a flat

UCI Worlds bunch en route to Geelong 2010

Riding in Melbourne is pretty good – good roads, some shared paths, great mountain biking, a bayside training route, mountains within reach and a mild climate. Cadel Evans’ brief visit home after winning the 2011 Tour de France drew the biggest crowd ever seen in Federation Square and new Premier Ted Baillieu delivered a speech so good that you’d reckon his writer rides.

But we also have some of the most aggressive drivers known to man and a road network designed without much thought for cyclists. So things are good but they could be better.

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