Thursday, November 25, 2010

A solution to magpie season: the RMD project

The following dropped into my inbox earlier this week and I enjoyed it so much I had to share it. It’s proof that strategy consultants can solve just about anything. Here they tackle the classic problem of magpie attacks in Spring in just 3 Powerpoint slides. Jerry Castle is the genius behind it. Hope you laugh as much as I did.

If you are finding the writing a bit small, just click on the slide to enlarge. Take the time to read it... I promise your efforts will be rewarded!

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's here! By unpopular demand... Ali Baba and the 40 Triathletes!

Once upon a time, there was a poor cyclist called Ali Baba. Ali Baba had a bike made from pre-loved parts that he had salvaged from his neighbourhood environmental collective. The wheels squeaked, and it had only one gear, but it was a homely bike and got him safely to the organic sustainable fair-trade childrenswear shop where he worked, and home again, every day.

Ali Baba on his way to work

One day, Ali Baba decided to go home a new way and found himself lost in the middle of a big forest as it was getting dark. Ali Baba felt scared. Suddenly, he heard the unmistakeable squeak of unlubed chains and the clap clap of cyclists clicking out of their cleats 200m away. Ali Baba hid behind a tree and waited. Sure enough, soon a tribe of 40 lycra-clad blokes wearing tiny singlet bra tops appeared in the clearing. They all had expensive featherlight bikes with bottle-cages behind their saddles and aerobars pointed toward the sky.

‘Oh no,’ thought Ali Baba. ‘Those pretty boys will see my old bike and will know I am here. I am just a poor shopkeeper and cannot afford holidays in Noosa or GPS wristwatches. They will laugh at me.’

But Ali Baba’s bike was old and pre-loved and invisible to the eyes of the 40 triathletes, who could only see bikes made after 2008. The men got off their bikes.

‘Open sesame!’ one of the triathletes cried.

Ali Baba could not believe his eyes. In front of the triathletes, a big stone rolled away to reveal a cave of riches. There were deep dish wheels, and aero helmets, and little belts with room for gel bottles. There were weighted vests, and pool buoys, and elastic laces. In the corner, there was a row of Softrides, hanging on the wall gathering dust. Ali Baba had never seen such so much carbon.

The triathletes spoke to each other in a funny code that Ali Baba could not understand. They talked of thresholds, and zones, and nutrition plans. He felt sure they were terrorists and were plotting their next hit in a land they called ‘Kona’. What the hit was, Ali Baba did not know, but he knew whatever it was would involve something called a ‘negative split’ and lots of ‘bricks’. They referred constantly to their leader, a guy called ‘Training’. All the triathletes loved this Training guy and never stopped talking about him. Ali Baba felt very scared and hoped he never met Training. He sounded very demanding and not altogether productive.

The men shared protein shakes and then left, saying that they did not want to be late for Training. Ali Baba stayed hidden until they were gone, then leapt out and cried, ‘Open sesame!’ The stone rolled away and Ali Baba ran inside. He grabbed some power bands and creatine and stuffed them in his pockets and pulled on a shiny new pair of fluoro yellow racing flats. Ali Baba pedalled home as fast as his rattly old bike would take him, his head filled with thoughts of the treasures in the cave and the strange men in lycra.

Over the next few days, Ali Baba noticed a change in his behaviour. He liked his fluoro running shoes and found himself timing his rides into work. His powerband helped him sell more childrenswear than ever before. And the creatine... well, Ali Baba grew muscles he never knew he had. Pretty soon Ali Baba had changed his ebay username to slowtwitch9999 and had posted his old singlespeed for sale.

But it wasn’t enough. Ali Baba couldn’t get that cave out of his mind. All those treasures... it was too much. He had to have more.

The next day, Ali Baba rode back to the clearing with a plan and 3kg of Rohypnol.

‘Open sesame!’ he cried. The stone rolled away. Ali Baba danced inside. He gathered some bidons and filled them with food colouring, water and roofies. Then he walked outside the cave and waited.

Soon, Ali Baba heard the sound of grunts and unclipping. The triathletes had returned.

Not all of the triathletes unclipped in time

‘Good evening gentlemen,’ Ali Baba said, ‘I am a travelling salesman and I am peddling super-elite wares. This high performance drink has eleventy million vitamins and minerals and will improve your performance by over 11%.’

The triathletes looked at Ali Baba suspiciously. ‘I’m not sure,’ one said, ‘It looks a bit carb-heavy.’

‘It smells a bit funny,’ said another. ‘Say, where did you get those fluoro shoes?’

Ali Baba took a deep breath. ‘It’s very expensive,’ he said. ‘I guess it’d only be for the more serious competitors amongst you. But because you guys look nice, I’ll give you a free sample.’

‘I’ll take it!’ they shouted.

And so Ali Baba gave all his drink away and before long they were all out like a light, curled up on the ground in their compression pants. And Ali Baba backed up the large cart and donkey he had parked nearby and loaded into it all the treasures from the cave (except the softrides).

It was a lot for Donkey to handle

And later, Ali Baba opened an internet-based triathlon store and never had to sell childrenswear again.

The End.

Riding unhappy?

Hi guys

I’ve just received a comment on Ride Happy which made me stop and think. I’ve reproduced the comment below to save everyone having to look it up (comments can be viewed by anyone, but you need to click on the link below the post):

Sounds like you're riding a bit unhappy there. I figure if people are out and about, cyclists, triathletes or what not, they are out and about, and riding their bikes. Why so much negativity if they're not as "euro" as you think people should be. How boring if we were all the same.

I’m not sure who made the comment, but it’s a valid one. My previous post was a bit snobbish and you were right to pull me up on it. I agree – whatever your poison, getting out and about on your bike is awesome and there should be more people doing it. If more people rode their bikes instead of driving we would all be better off. And yes, I would HATE it if we all rode Colnagos and didn’t get out of bed for less than 100km. I admit, I would prefer it if some people washed their bikes more often but honestly, if you saw my commuter bike you’d say the same to me. (But yes, that’s my snobbery again.) The fact is that this weekend was beautiful in Melbourne, sunny and still and perfect bike riding weather. I was stuck having coffee at a cafĂ© by myself because I’ve just gotten injured again and on physio’s orders I couldn’t go ride with my mates. So instead of getting out and about I was moping around feeling sorry for myself. So I think I vented some of that cabin fever in my post. But that’s no excuse and I apologise to anyone I may have offended, whether you are a triathlete or not.

Having said that, I try hard to ensure that Ride Happy isn’t a skipping-through-the-daisy-fields plain vanilla type place. Life’s too short to take too seriously. Yes, I crossed the line from whimsical to cynical in my last post… but if we can’t laugh at ourselves what’s the fun of it all?

I’m still trying to decide whether to publish my Ali Baba and the 40 Triathletes story. Perhaps it’s better left out. Happy to take comments though.

Ride happy – I’ll do my best to do the same!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ali Baba and the 40 Triathletes: Part 1

I try not to make fun of triathletes. As Andy says, it’s like poking fun at retarded children. Also, I used to be one, and it seems hypocritical to take the mickey out of people for doing exactly what I thought was super-cool back in the day.* But then again, isn’t that what we all did with hypercolour t-shirts? And the Spice Girls?

Lisa’s Mum, however, has no such qualms. On Saturday, she was feeling extremely lively because I swapped her decaf coffee for regular without telling her and she was bouncing off the walls. We were parked at our local cafe and a swarm of walruses had descended, fresh from beach road and swapping stories about how carbon their gear was. They had taken up all the tables around us and were talking loudly and had stacked their filthy bikes against the window in front of us. We marvelled at the size of their saddle bags and wondered what treasures were hidden inside.

The sight prompted Lisa's Mum to tell me the story of Ali Baba and the 40 Triathletes. By the time she had finished my eyes were the size of dinner plates and my flat white had gotten cold (truly the sign of a compelling story). I'll recount the story here soon... stay tuned.

*Actually, I did duathlon, not triathlon, because I swim like a rock and I get no joy from people swimming on top of me in the ocean and kicking me in the face. I looked up to triathletes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NEW Letter of the week! Lisa's Mum returns

This week, Lisa's Mum was very excited to get a genuine letter in her mailbox! We all had scones to celebrate. Please keep them coming... just between you and me, Lisa's Mum needs all the mail she can get.

Dear Lisa’s Mum,
I’ve heard that you are a font of wisdom on legs and international cycling events. So I am writing to you to ask for some advice about bikes. I fancy myself as a jack-of-most-trades athlete. I can run, swim, bowl, kick and shoot….and I can ride. Boy can I ride.
So when it comes to buying a new bike, the decision is really important. I don’t want some run-of-the-mill bike which try-hard road warriors are riding. I want something that will really set me and my awesome skills apart.
What should I look for? Where should I go? And who are the people really in the know?
Ego (is not a dirty word)
Dear Ego
To start with, let me just say how happy I was to receive your letter. There is nothing that gladdens my heart more than the thought of a gentleman like yourself joining the cycling community. My local bike shop mechanic coincidentally also needs a new car and a holiday to Bali, so I think he will be similarly pleased to hear of your desire to have the very best.
I have given great thought to your needs and the word that keeps coming to my mind is: hand made. Preferably by someone European, but from one of the nice European countries. My great friend Spiro knows someone whose uncle once played cards with the nephew of Eddie Merckx. This man makes beautiful bikes, which he crafts by candlelight in the basement of his tomato canning factory. He only works on his bikes on Saturday and Sunday mornings so that the frames are conditioned to perform on weekends, and when his birthday falls on a Saturday or Sunday he works anyway, and his tears fall on the frame and add a lovely gloss to the paintwork. And for an extra $1,000, he will give you 12 cogs at the back and etch 'even superer record' onto all the parts.
Not everyone can afford a bike like this, Ego, which makes it all the more important to have one. It may cost a bit, but like a wedding ring, you should really spend at least 2 months' salary to get the bike of your dreams.
Other things that are important in a new bike include knowing the weight of all its parts. Perhaps you can ask your friendly bike mechanic to provide a spreadsheet listing the weight and dimensions of every component. He will also be able to advise whether any part of your bike is available anywhere else in Australia (of course, the answer you are looking for is NO). The spreadsheet is also good opportunity to tailor your bike according to your needs. For example, if you will only be riding your bike once a week to the cafe, I would recommend you only purchase titanium bolts rather than the ivory ones, which I find durable but expensive. If you are planning to ride lots, it may be worth investing in wheels made from 2m x 2m blocks of carbon, which are chiselled down to create a single wheel. I find these wheels provide excellent stiffness when compared to lesser models made from more than one piece of carbon.
Good luck Ego! I look forward to purchasing your new bike off Ebay some day at a gloriously discounted price.
With love,
Lisa's Mum

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Letter of the week to Lisa's Mum

Dear Lisa's Mum,
I desperately seek your counsel. Yesterday, I was the victim of a traumatic incident. I was out riding and this cyclist came past me and almost sucked my helmet off. I chased for a while, then just as I was about to give up the cyclist turned around and it was a GIRL! I have never been passed by anyone before other than that guy at work who trains really hard and is going to race the Gatorade triathlon series in the Summer with other elite athletes. I am a happily married diesel mechanic with 4 children and I love steak and AC/DC, but this has compromised my manhood. What should I do?


Dear Horrified

I believe your experience is what is known in common parlance as ‘being chicked’. Don't be too hard on yourself. Some of my best friends are chicks, although I never let them ride with me because they half-wheel and have no respect for wicker baskets. My advice to you is that next time you feel in danger of being chicked, just feign a rear wheel puncture and pull over with a concerned look. If the chick offers to help, insist gallantly that she ride on, because changing a tube IS a man's job, after all. If the chick is a friend of yours, you can follow up later on with an explanation of the diabolical mechanical that prevented you ripping her legs off, which is, you can explain, what would have happened on any other day if only you hadn't punctured. For your convenience here is a picture I prepared earlier of that puncture you had. Man, it was a beauty. If only you hadn't got it at that crucial time.
This, I trust, will get you over the line. As for preserving your manhood though, I'd give serious thought to moving out of Williamstown. Full of hippies.
With love,
Lisa's Mum

Lisa's Mum provides thoughtful advice on most conundrums and moral dilemmas. Please address all correspondence to Lisa's Mum c/o