Friday, February 18, 2011

Heading to the Tour of Middle Earth

Chief commissaires Frodo and Gandalf eagerly await our arrival in NZ

Well, it's official. Wendy, my uber-physio at the VIS, has given me clearance to ride for 3 stages of the Tour of NZ next week. Maybe even 4. It's going to be tough with such limited preparation but it's better than sitting on the sidelines being injured. I'm riding with the VIS team led by supercoach Donna Rae-Szalinski. I'm not sure how top secret the line up is but I can tell you that Jo Hogan and Kendelle Hodges are both in good form and raring to go. We fly out on Tuesday.

For updates during the race, follow me @LJridehappy on Twitter. Or wait a week and I'll write something here.

Gollum at race weight

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Ride Happy tees are here!

St Mel has been busy creating some new Ride Happy tees. I reckon they look pretty awesome. There are 2 new designs. Click here to check out the St Mel store. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

NEW! Lisa's Mum writes back

This week, Lisa's Mum responds to another reader letter. Keep em coming! You can send them to her secretary at And yes, this is a genuine letter.

Dear Lisa’s MumDo I need a whole new wardrobe now that I’ve purchased a fixie? Is there anything of my old life that I can hold onto?

Budding Funkster

Dear Budding Funkster
Without knowing what your previous wardrobe looks like, I would say probably yes, unless you already own a skateboard helmet and spray-on jeans. I notice that you said ‘purchased’ a fixie, and not ‘built it up at my local bicycle collective using parts scavenged from dumpsters and vintage op shops’. From this I am guessing you will not require a woollen cardigan, playing cards in the spokes or impressive facial hair. Instead, you will need to expand your fedora collection and purchase an iPad, which you can use to upload songs from your latest favourite garage folk-rock band and send them to your sponsored Oxfam goat. If you wear glasses, make sure the frames are thick and square. If you don’t wear glasses, get some aviators. As for things from your old life… hold onto your health insurance.
Love and kisses,
Lisa’s Mum
Another budding funkster

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ged's quote of the week

This quotable quote comes from Ged, a fellow legal eagle who overheard the following on Beach Road a few days ago. I loved it. Hope you do too:

30-something cyclist:                 “Do you notice those rims in cross wind?” [Referring to a bling set of Zipp 404s]
Other 30-something cyclist:        “Not really. I mostly notice them when riding past store windows. In fact, I find that’s when they really come into their own.”

If there are guys with that kind of humour riding Beach Road, clearly I need to get down there more often.

Ride happy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lisa's Mum replies!

The $15,000 starter kit (paparazzi sold separately)

Well, Jerry's letter certainly did stir things up. Thanks to all who gave feedback, both good and bad. Lisa's Mum decided to take the bull by the horns and respond. Check it out.

Dear Confused,
I am glad you have solicited my counsel. Your letter has come at a fortuitous time, for February is pro bono month at my cycle-specific psychiatric practice, which means you will receive the benefit of my valuable services free of charge. If you had sent me your letter in January you would have been subject to considerable charges including disbursements for tea and mood-enhancing floral arrangements for my office.

The question of ‘what is a cyclist?’ is an existential conundrum that has plagued many a rider (including Thai performance monkeys). For what are we but spokes in the wheel of life, riding down the long road of human existence, sprinting for each traffic light milestone and hoping we don’t get punctures? Every bike rider searches for meaning from the moment they unscrew the lid of a new tub of chamois cream. Such is the intensity of a cyclist’s quest for meaning that the Italians actually pronounce ‘cyclist’ as ‘seek-list’. Those Euros are wise. But I digress.

Your café companions with their $15,000 starter kits should not be pigeon-holed as simply ‘cyclists’. Rather, they are part of the new breed of cyclo-philanthropists, whose mission is to support the livelihoods of bike shop owners everywhere. Operating under the guise of middle-aged corporate men who hate golf, cyclo-philanthropists relentlessly and determinedly seek out bike shop owners and persuade them to accept large quantities of money in exchange for bicycle-related goods. It does not matter what kind of goods they are, but to avoid suspicion the cyclo-philanthropists typically purchase high-end Euro race bikes (I have heard the case of one rookie C-P who with the best of intentions attempted to purchase $15,000 worth of puncture repair kits but he was turned away and forced to return to buy a super-record Colnago).

Cyclo-philanthropists operate by stealth and are driven by nothing more than the satisfaction of helping out a fellow human being. You think Bill Gates is generous – remember that he only has to go to Africa ONCE to part with $30million. Your local cyclo-philanthropist has to purchase at least 40 handmade race bikes and 20 pairs of Assos knicks to get even close to that amount.

Another cyclo-philanthropist at work

You are right to think that those HTC gentlemen were something other than cyclists. I suspect that they are part of that secret C-P brethren and were celebrating the purchase of a new car by their local bike shop owner. Incidentally, you can spot these cyclo-philanthropists by their secret handshake and the presence of a bento box on their top tube. I have heard that most also abide by the code of wearing exclusively sausage casing kit as you describe, although of course this is only hearsay.

I hope this sheds some light on the issue Jerry. As you say, Mrs HTC is definitely a cyclist. But those bastions of local industry in the HTC kits – so much more.

Much love,
Lisa’s Mum
PS - I can tell you're feeling a bit down. Here is a picture of Chris Hoy's legs to cheer you up. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Letter to Lisa's Mum - What is a cyclist and the $15,000 starter kit

Lisa's Mum received the following letter from Jerry Castle. She'll compose a reply, but wanted to throw it open to her learned readership first. If you have any suggestions, please send them through to her.

Hello Lisa’s Mum,
I’m told by reputable sources that you are the expert on all cycling related matters. I’m hoping you can help me with a question that has been troubling me.

This may seem philosophical, perhaps a touch post-modern, but I’m struggling with the question, “what is a cyclist?”

I was happy with the answer, “someone or something (happy to include Thai performance monkeys) that rides a bike”, but a few recent events have made me question this logical position – the following one included.

Sitting in my favourite breakfast spot a few weeks ago, my bleary morning-eyes were assaulted by a gleaming 2010 HTC-Columbia kit stretched like a sausage casing over a 140kg beast. The owner of the kit was broadcasting his proud achievement of conquering sixty Beach Rd bitumen kilometres that very morning. At his table was a similarly HTC-Columbia clad heavy-weight, clearly the riding buddy (team mate?) of the above mentioned beast, and his wife, who was kitted up in Fluid gear (Anaconda’s cheap and cheerful private label).

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation of the two HTC-Columbia team mates (their female companion sat quietly and read the paper). Come to think of it, I doubt it even qualified as eavesdropping; the conversation was for the public record – the café was their stage. Topics covered included performance on the days climbs (climbs on Beach Rd?), weight savings from switching to carbon wheels (perhaps more efficient to lose a few of those 140kg!) – you get the point.

I’ve seen this scene a thousand times before. I’m sure you have too, Lisa’s Mum. Fat dudes with expensive bikes proudly drinking coffee after a 20km roll on the flat. It’s never bothered me before, but it’s starting to itch a little.

Are these people cyclists? Or have they simply purchased the “$15,000 starter kit”?

I contend that they have bought the starter kit because they want to identify themselves as cyclists. They want to have a legitimate answer to the question, “so what do you do?” Having bought the starter kit I think they feel comfortable answering, “I’m a cyclist”.

While starter kits are familiar in plenty of other sub-cultures – skateboarding, emo kids, and members of the Fitzroyalty – the phenomenon is not universal. You don’t see 45 kg runts in muscle-singlets gathering en masse in the cafes, bragging about bench-pressing a 12 kg PB or discussing the optimal amino acid blend for mass gain. What is it about some sub-cultures that make them conducive to starter kits?

Perhaps I’m getting worked up over nothing. The saying “all the gear but no idea” has been used by those who think they are better than others in a particular sub-culture for a long time. But who is keeping score? We live in a world where it is possible to gain fame and become independently wealthy by being a socialite – you don’t need skill you just need to look the part.

Anyway… I’m rambling now. I’m not sure whether the HTC-Columbia team mates qualified as cyclists or not in my book. I’d like to say no, but I’d also like to think of myself as less elitist than that. I will say that I did enjoy watching their departure. While one of the heavy weights was mounting his carbon steed his wife bolted off into the distance on her practical flat-bar commuter bike. Mr HTC was left wrong-geared at the side of the road squealing, “wait up honey!”, as he struggled with the dual task of clipping in and changing down a few gears. Beaten by the task, Mr HTC eventually over-balanced, tumbling into the gutter. OK so this very last part is fiction – the rest is true.

I am happy to say that Mrs HTC qualified as a cyclist in my mind.

So Lisa’s Mum, what is a cyclist? I’m confused!

I hope you can offer some advice on this matter.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Separation Anxiety

I get very attached to my bikes. We all do. Whether they are a prize-winning race pony, a ‘project’ bike that you tinker on, or your weekday commuting companion, every bike has a special meaning for its owner.


I rode 2 awesome race machines courtesy of Fitzroy Revolution and when I moved to VIS I had to hand my babies back. Every time I go into the shop I have to go to say hello to them. They wag their little tails when I come up to pat their handlebars and when I leave they give me a look that breaks my heart. ‘We’ve shared so many good times,’ they say, ‘Is that worth NOTHING to you now? What are you riding now? Does it climb as fast as we did? I bet it doesn’t love you like we do.’


I wish I could keep those bikes forever. They have so many special memories for me.


Even my trusty Clydesdale commuter has a very special place in my heart. When I was a student it was the bike I’d ride on nights out, with a cheap bottle of red jammed into the bidon cage. We went to London together and used to fly across the city to work each day, tucked behind Ed the rower and his road bike. Back in Melbourne, it comes to work with me and loves sitting at cafes (although it always forgets its wallet when it’s time to pay the bill). Over the years, so many parts have worn down and been replaced that only the seat post and handlebars remain from the original… but it’s still the same bike to me.


A while ago, I put my hardtail mountain bike up for sale. It’s a great bike but I’ve decided I want to move on and get something with enough suspension that it will make even me ride smoothly. Or so I thought. I got a call today from someone wanting to buy it. He asked me a million questions and then told me that he was going to use it to commute to work. I told him that riding an XTR groupset with race wheels and tubeless knobblies might be overkill for a commuter bike. In response, he assured me he rode, for some of his route, on gravel paths. My heart sank. I couldn’t let that happen to my beautiful bike! But who am I to judge?


I don’t know whether I can let my bike go to a life of commuting. But maybe, if it’s like my commuter bike, it will get a special place in this guy’s heart too. I just hope he knows how to use tyre sealant…