Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Late le Tour Finale

The final stage of the 2014 Tour de France will once again be a night stage.  The 8.30pm start time was tested at the 2013 Tour and approved again for the 101st running of the event. 

While I’m a fan of night events and mixing things up (think Singapore F1, night finals, any Red Bull event…) this is also a trap for young spectators.  Myself included.  Although the 2006 finale was scheduled to come through Paris around 4.30pm I had mindlessly booked a 5.30pm Eurostar out of there.  The procession ended up 45 minutes late and left Lucan and I pushing the already lead-footed taxi driver to get us to Gare du Nord quicker than a Bourne Supremacy car chase.  He loved it.

We didn’t see a single bike that day, but we made the train with about 15 seconds to spare. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Happy Friday

This is me on the weekend...

The tandem clip.  Who's gonna join me?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

It's Worth It

I'm currently in that frame of mind that it's not worth the effort, the pain, the struggle, the organisation, or the hard work.  But this vid reminds me of some of the rewards.  Unfortunately some of the clips are also used in the vid I put up yesterday but it's still a better view.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Nicely worded

I like these ideas.  I would like to live them more than I currently do.

Sit back and enjoy a short piece on exploration by none other than Buzz Aldrin.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Chris Legh

As a sports fan when I was a kid I still remember every single interaction I had with athletes I looked up to. I remember most of those conversations word for word. I think I still have a few basketball player's and surfer's signatures around somewhere. Nearly everyone was extremely nice and took the time to make me feel special and as a result they all were, and many remain, on the metaphorical pedestal I placed them upon. 
Until I met Chris Legh I had never met an athlete I looked up to who put me on the same level as them. We were equals. This wasn't merely because triathletes are far from rockstars and Chris was young; this was a genuine, down-to-earth personality and pride Chris had in sharing triathlon with others.
Stolen from Chris at home in Melbs.

I've only met Chris twice; once after a small race in Melbourne in... I'm guessing 1996- and once at swimming training shortly after, but both times he was happy to answer my many inane triathlon questions, made me feel like I was on the right track, and also made me feel like I had contributed some knowledge to the conversation. I don't think there's much greater feeling of empowerment than teaching an idol something, even if 17 years of hindsight suggests he was probably aware that putting your sunnies in your helmet in transition is faster. 
With that information in his arsenal Chris won several Ironman races, and made it to the pointy end of the race in Kona before melting and inadvertently creating some of the most spectacular vision in endurance sport. He worked with the Gatorade Sport Science Institute to dial in his hydration and came back stronger. Getting through another health issue in 2006 Chris was unable to race Ironman consistently so adapted with the situation and ended up dominating 70.3 racing for years. 
It is this relentless desire to find a new way to do things that has allowed Chris to race professionally for more than 20 years and maintain long relationships with sponsors. Being instrumental in the creation of Ironman Melbourne and still wanting to go long, Chris raced IM Melbs this year, taking an incredible 5th place then backed it up with a great race at Coeur d'Alene and managed to qualify for Hawaii, where he will race his last as a professional this Saturday. 
As an outside observer of his glittering career I have the utmost respect for his ability to adapt, his understanding of the business of triathlon, and what seems like, year-round fitness! However, as an insider to that conversation in 1996 that Chris will most certainly have forgotten, I have the utmost respect for the time he took to make me feel like I could go pro if I wanted to.

Monday, 16 September 2013

First Roll of the Season

On the weekend I went for my first proper ride in so long; in fact, I don't remember the last time I rode a bike more than 20kms.  A cruisy roll along the Yarra Trails towards Eltham was all I needed.  70kms done and I was shattered.  It's at this time of the year I wonder how I'll ever get fit again.  I promise, when I get to March I'm not stopping.  No amount of exercise science can make me believe my body needs rest each year if it means starting from scratch again like this!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

What's He Thinking?

Jacobs singing Crowie to sleep?

I love getting a glimpse into the mindset of athletes I respect.  Any little snippet I can get to see how they motivate, how they push harder, or how they prepare fascinates me.  This photo shows me nothing.  In fact, this photo gives me more questions than answers!

On the left is Craig Alexander, 2 time World Ironman champion and one of the best prepared athletes in the triathlon world.  When he rocks up to race you can be sure he's got the whole thing dialled.  He doesn't come unprepared.

On the right is Pete Jacobs, triathlon journey-man.  Not a novice when it comes to long distance racing but he certainly manages to fly under the radar.  In both the 2 years previous to this photo he had made the podium at Kona (I think) so he was close to the win.

This media conference was in the days before the 2012 Hawaiian Ironman, after a few months of Pete Jacobs telling anyone who would listen that he was ready to win.  Had the ever humble Crowie had enough of hearing the talk?  I think a lot of people had written him off as all talk, myself included.

Pete Jacobs ended up dominating everyone who stood in his way that day.  

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Had a great weekend at Mt Hotham with some great people.  On paper the snow was great but in reality half the mountain was closed and the other half was chopped up and full of people so it wasn't incredible but for a social weekend I'll take it!

Despite the lift queues being huge,

...the sun made an appearance for lunchtime.

Hotham Summit:

Fun group of people:

 On Sunday Carla and I went wandering to watch a sled dog race.

Despite skiing in Aus costing an absolute bomb it's still worth getting a weekend in each year.  Maybe NZ next year for half the price and better snow...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Home Before Lunch

If you're bored with your usual running route this weekend get a little creative.  Go somewhere different or do it a different way.  You can still run an epic route and be home in time for lunch...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Finding the Shot

A while ago I read an interesting study about people becoming depressed due to 'everyone else having a great life' and flaunting it on Facebook and Instagram.  Last week I read a light-hearted article discussing it.  I see how this could become a problem; afterall, people have blamed every other technical advancement for their own inadequacies- why stop now?

For anyone complaining that Facebook or Instagram is making them feel bad I'd ask the following questions:
1) Are you 12?
2) Do you think people would put up photos of themselves doing anything but amazing things? (I guess some people think photographing dinner is amazing)
3) Is this any different to people telling stories of their amazing weekend?  (great photos may even reduce embellishment...)

The people I follow on Instagram are chosen BECAUSE they put up great photos.  I like to look at photos that show people having an amazing life.  It gives me ideas, not only on how to make my life more exciting, but how to photograph my own life because it is just as exciting as most others'.

I'd suggest the majority of those who shift the blame to Facebook or Instagram are those who cannot, or don't want to see that any life can be made to look amazing in photo.  The art is in finding the shot, not setting up the subject.  But that would require hard work and self discipline...

Some of my favourite Instagram accounts:
Ashley Baxter
Caleb Farro
Clint Kimmins
David Darbyshire
Garrett Chow
Jered Gruber
Joel Parkinson

But the best by far, is Mike Escamilla

Go out and take photos of your amazing life.  Make your friends jealous.  I'll do the same.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Imaginate. Finally.

It's been a long time coming but this video blows me away.  Gotta love Danny Macaskill.

I'd like to see more Swiss Ball action at skate parks now, please...

Saturday, 29 June 2013

King out, Carney in

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, finishes up his second, and final, 5 year term this week, and was really the only BoE Governor I've known.  While there was nothing really for me to dislike about him, he did seem to have an easy run before an unprecedented tough period in which he failed to take action and blamed his lack of power.
He eventually gained more power- too late to stop a lending squeeze which brought down Northern Rock- and introduced a quarterly Inflation report.  That was useful; if you wanted to highlight how poorly you were doing your job.  My understanding of the BoE's mandate is to keep Interest Rates steady, growth sustainable, and Inflation below 2%.  I don't remember seeing inflation below 2% in the whole time I lived in the UK.

In true British tradition there were some cool quirks that he who leads the 400 year old bank must abide by. Dealing with a twat with a red briefcase is one of them.  Another is writing a letter to that a fore-mentioned twat explaining why Inflation is over 2%.  That letter must have been written so often during Mervyn King's reign that it would have been smart to set up an email template.

Last week Mervyn mentioned that one of his regrets was not being vocal enough about the growing risks in the financial system in the lead up to the lending crisis in 2008.  Hindsight is wonderful.  With a change of powers, the BoE is now the authority when it comes to bank oversight and financial stability.  So his successor, Mark Carney should have no trouble when the next unprecedented financial shock rolls in.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Make a Stand

People make a stand in different ways.  I don't think it matters how it's done, as long as you do it.  In light of Adam Goodes' stand against racism I thought about one of my favourite photos of all time, which is actually on show at Victoria Park at the moment to celebrate 20 years since it was taken.

Photo: Wayne Ludbey for Herald Sun

Decide what you believe in and make a stand.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Hip Flexors

I just learned that hip flexors are made up of two muscles (the psoas and iliacus) contains both slow twitch and fast twitch muscles fibres, and 50% of humans have a 3rd muscle in the hip flexor named psoas minor.

Now you've learned that, too.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Monday, 13 May 2013


I like standard procedure.  I like systems.  I even like rules.  But I hate the way they're followed.  I hate the way they're written, their intentions, and their condescending disregard for the end user.  In the sections of my life where I sell out, procedure is a huge part of the problem but it's a necessary evil and has created its own solution.  The use of good procedure has allowed for the recruitment of lesser intellect.

Let me explain.  If procedure is a set of rules that, if followed correctly, will result in a desired outcome, then a free-thinking, intelligent human is no longer required.  There are benefits and disadvantages to that. The system will benefit because risk is limited.  However, if the system fails and the human running it does not have the capacity to perform the task manually then there is no hope.  In a corporate world procedure is used well for conveyerbelt roles (like mine!)- and as a result idiots are recruited and process is never improved.

For my personal projects, however, I like to use procedures and systems because to me they are dynamic.  The process is always being tweaked.  I guess you could argue that it's not a procedure if it isn't static but in my black and white mind the result is easier to evaluate when the journey was documented.  It is very rare for me to tweak a procedure before I can evaluate a result of some kind so in a way the process isn't dynamic until the end result is complete; whether that be a success or failure.

In its simplest form a procedure is an estimation of the steps required to reach a particular goal.  I want to fry an egg- I have to heat up a pan, crack and egg into the pan, and let it cook.  The best analysis can come at the end of the process.  The egg stuck to the pan?  I'll tweak the procedure next time by putting oil in before the egg.  The egg was too runny?  I'll cook it for longer.

For my projects the fun (and hard work) comes well before I start performing the steps.  I feel much more comfortable and confident in a pressure situation when I've set in place the system that I think will get me the greatest result.  I think this is borne of my athletic and financial markets past.  Want to run faster?  Train in a particular fashion over a particular period of time.  It has been tried and tested.  Want to buy low, sell high?  Use these statistics/ econometrics/ chart patterns that have worked in the past.  Knowing that these steps will give the highest chance of success takes away a lot of the unknown and that comforts me in the heat of battle.

Analysis of the efficacy of the system used is essential for improvement.  So many variables have the ability to influence end results so these need to be taken into account but by testing, performing and re-testing, systems and procedures will become robust and risks are able to be minimised.  Intuition still has a part but this will be built from experience of tweaking. Failure builds experience and procedure allows you to document that in a controlled environment.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Race Descriptions Can Be Great

This is the best description for a bike race I've ever heard; and makes me want to be back in the UK again...

Join us on the  22nd of June for the Rapha Gentlemen's* Race, an unmarshalled and unsanctioned point-to-point team challenge taking place around the Summer Solstice.

Each group of six riders will set off from the ancient walled city of York, leaving behind its winding medieval passageways and embarking on self-determined routes through the glorious scenery of the North Yorkshire Moors. Changeable June weather will no doubt present a challenge over the open landscape and coastline. In sun, rouleurs will take in summer blooms and vivid greenery covering abbey ruins, silent for centuries after the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Inclement weather, however, could shift the mood to one more reminiscent of the shipwreck near Whitby which brought Dracula to England disguised as a black dog. Teams are required to pass through a halfway checkpoint in this sleepy port town. Battling potential offshore winds on the way back to York will need the strength of the stone walls of Whitby Abbey, where, nearly a thousand years ago, monks labored away at producing intricate gold-glossed manuscripts during the height of early medieval religious art in England. These great ruins, perched atop the cliffs and standing watch over the town below, also mark the spot where the modern Christian calendar was negotiated by a synod of bishops in the seventh century. No doubt a similar form of teamwork will be required from riders as they work their way back across the moors towards York and the finish, with the spires of the Minster, visible from miles away, beckoning each group homewards.

Written by Jack Flannagan for the Rapha Cycling blog

If you're interested you can enter here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Product Reviews

I have never written a product review.  I'm not going to start today so don't run away yet.  I've written book reviews but they were mostly based on the movie because I didn't want to read the book.  I very occasionally read product reviews when I can't make my own mind up about something but I find most of them are written by people who are paid to do so or in doing the review are rewarded with free shit.  I want to be the latter.

There's this running jacket...  Well, 'not a jacket'- the guy in the store told me- 'more of a running over-piece'.  It's not cool enough to have a running jacket in your catalogue anymore.  You break new ground if you manufacture running over-pieces.  At the risk of upsetting the manufacturer I'll call it what it is.

This running jacket first caught my eye on the internet.  It's made by The North Face, whose products I quite like, and I thought I'd find out more.  When face to face with it in the shop I liked the cut of it and the feel of the fabric.  Some space-age material that keeps you warm but cool, among a host of other oxymoron.  All in all I thought this was a brilliant jacket, the likes of which I have never worn before.  Until I read the price tag...  One hundred and ninety dollars.  For an over-piece.

TBA is French for 'Rip Off'

So now I want to review it.

Send your signatures to:
The North Face
14450 Doolittle Drive
San Leandro, CA, 94577 USA

...or your local MP.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Roland S. Howard Lane, St Kilda, Vic, 3182

In what could be a forming trend, Port Philip City Council have approved the naming of a lane way in St Kilda "Roland S. Howard Lane" in memory of one of the greatest Australian songwriters of all time.  Last night the council voted unanimously for a name change, off Eildon Rd, in a move which, along-side "Paul Hester Walk" and "ACDC Lane" could be the start of a postman's worst nightmare.  Amphlett St, Paul Kelly Rd, Hutchence Cres, or even Molly Gve could be next but I think that honoring Roland S. Howard is a nice touch.

The first time I had heard of Roland S. Howard was in about 1993 or '94 when the Screaming Jets covered 'Shivers'.  Possibly one of his best known songs, it has been covered by a whole host of rubbish bands since (Jets not included!).  While I'm not a huge fan of Howard's music, or any of his myriad of musical collaborations it's impossible not to respect his uncompromising approach and although I never saw him play live I've never heard a gig reviewer who wasn't astonished by his stage presence.

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I'm unable to find any confirmation of this but years ago I heard that Howard had stayed on a fellow musician's couch for a period of time and when he left, as a thank you for the host, he wrote and then performed a song on their answering machine and gave them the rights for it.  It turned out to be a big song for the band but I don't remember which song it was.  I have a feeling it was Tex Perkins or someone from the Cruel Sea but I love that story...

The petition lodged to the council to have a lane renamed was apparently signed by over 3000 people including Henry Rollins, Nick Cave, Lee Ranaldo and Shane MacGowan.

RSH Youtube

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Are You Worth Your Wages?

It's easy to whinge.  In fact, this whole blog is just a big outlet for my whinging.  I complained (a lot) when I got back from London that my wages in Australia are rubbish.  I justify that by considering the financial contribution I bring to the firm I work for and although I'm sick of arguing the point, I'm in favour of a CEO being paid millions if they were good for the company.  It's even easier to argue in favour of a huge bonus for a trader who makes millions for the company.  If a small percentage of their profits equate to $30m then a bonus of $30m is fine by me. 

Curtis Compton/The Associated Press
What about at the other end?  What if it's not so easy to equate your positive impact on a company to your personal income?  Prize money in sport is a difficult debate because it's not always obvious how much the athletes contribute to the sport's income.  Maybe Lakers ticket sales are lower when Kobe Bryant is injured (I dunno why, it's not entertaining to watch a guy take the tough shot when there are 4 others who could take the easy shot if he'd just pass it...) but for other sports/ players it's not that clear cut.

A few years ago the Australian Netballers cracked it over low wages.  This made me understand the whole vicious circle that is the spectator/ media/ sponsorship merry-go-round.  Lift each of them and the cash will flow but none of them will lift without the others.  One Netballer at the time said something like 'we work as hard as AFL players so we should be paid the same'.  Poor girl.  I'm sure she works harder than most AFL players but that's not what gets the cash in.  Having 8,000 people at your game vs 60,000 is the difference between being paid $15k a year and $200k a year.

So all of this was raised again in my little Triathlon world, this week, when the richest prize purse in Triathlon halved it's payout for the 2013 race.  The Hy-Vee in Iowa has dished out between $150k and $200k to the winner over the last few years and when they said we'll only give the winner $100k this year a lot of athletes had a hissy fit.  ONE HUNDRED GRAND!  Shut. Up.  Triathlon is not Golf or Tennis.  It never will be; but when the Ironman World Championships only pays the winner $120k I'd be stoked with the possibility of an extra hundred grand pay day.  In addition to this, Hy-Vee pays all the way down to 30th place.  I don't know too much about Pro prize purses but I'm pretty sure you couldn't rock up to many races around the world expecting any more than $20,000 for the win, nor to be paid past 10th place (if you're lucky). 

Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images
Triathlon is a stupid sport (even if I do say so myself).  People don't get it.  As a result there is limited mainstream media coverage and not much non-sporting sponsorship.  I could go off on tangents about the marketing of the sport and the need for a reprisal of the Tooheys Blue series of the mid-90's, which would certainly help, but if any Pros got into Triathlon for the money they were kidding themselves.  I think there are about 7 triathletes world wide who make a killing.  The rest get by on what they can and I hope the vast majority remember that they are doing what they love, day in, day out.

People should thank the Hy-Vee Triathlon for putting up the big bucks for as long as they could, and continuing to support "professional" triathletes.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

World Title Runner-Up Pick

I went down to Bells Beach for the finals of the surfing.  I haven't seen the comp there for years so I was pretty excited.  Bells is rarely as good throughout the year as it is at Easter so it's good to see the world's best on great waves.

At the start of each year I take a slightly less than random guess about who will win the world title.  I had about 4 years in a row where my pick came 2nd.  So I've changed my annual guess to the runner-up for the world title.

Taj Burrow will be the best surfer ever to have never won a world championship.  I said that about 6 years ago and I still stand by it.  For years he was content to just 'get stoked' and surf with the kids but he missed his window- not through being too old, just through a change in judging criteria.  If they judged aerial manouvers in 2001 the way they do now he would have already won a title or two.  But surfing being surfing, they lacked progression.  They're starting to catch up now but the kids learned from Taj and now they're leading the way.  Taj is also the lucky recipient of my annual runner-up pick.

Unfortunately for him, the only recent photo I have is one of him in a state of anger after losing the semi-final yesterday (he was unlucky).

I'd love to see him win but he needs to be so focussed for the whole year and I've never seen him do that before.  He's travelling with his trainer, Johnny Gannon, who I think is great and will get the most out of Taj but I don;t know if it's enough.

I've been a big fan of Jordy Smith's surfing for years and I think he's not far off taking the win, but a kid I had never seen surf until last week, Filippe Toledo, blew me away.  He's only 19 so give it time but he's already so progressive it will be fun to watch him develop over the years.
Jordy Smith and Filippe Toledo.
My ideal top 3 for 2013 would include Jordy Smith, Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning but it's a long year...

Friday, 29 March 2013