Friday, July 27, 2007

Jeckyll and Hyde- Freefall

More jumpen ya

Bracks Resigns

Wow, this news hit me a bit out of the blue as I sit here in an internet cafe on the outskirts of Ghent.

I had heard about the drinking driving incident involving his son, and could imagine the personal toll that such events could take; but it is still a surprise.

Other than an expression of shock, i have to say that I am really pleased that Brumby will be the new treasurer because he has stuck around in politics after the disappointment of electoral defeat in 1996 and then losing the Labor leadership in 1999.

I am also really pleased because he strikes me as a Gordon Brown type figure who mixes technical substance with adherence to traditional Labor values. He is a progressive who is not afraid of market based solutions.

I think the poor old state liberals will have more trouble trying to discredit Brumby than the overly image conscious, conservative Bracks.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More Economic Lies from Howard

So John Howard is blaming the increase in inflation last quarter with State government deficits- expected to run two 70 million over the next five years.

This is a deceptive argument because there could only be a crowding out problem if government and private borrowers were only borrowing in the domestic market.

Because private and public entities can borrow from worldwide markets thanks to the deregulation of the financial sector in the 1980´s, governments can borrow funds from anywhere in the world, and avoid placing undue pressure on domestic money markets.

Furthermore, the states that are running deficits are doing so for counter cyclical reasons (SA, NSW), or to improve essential infrastructure and remove capacity constraints (Qld), which should have no short term negative effect, and a long term positive effect on inflation figures.

DJ Porny Me So Horny

This is the biggest song in Belgium at the moment...

and yes the kids do actually dance like that over here

Jumpen style Ja

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another Update

Just some more racing news to update you on.

Deinze Kermisse

This is the biggest razce I have taken part in so far and the crazziest and fastest. There were about 140 starters. I got dropped at the halfway point and my average speed was over 50km/h.

It was a bit disappointing to get dropped at this point as the high speed only stayed on for another ten minutes after i got dropped. This race is the first time I have ever been dropped when able to hold 55km/h for two-three minutes. There was a long straight section coming out of a sharp right hand turn, and it as the old elastic band treatment. The riders at the front of the race had it relatively easy, whereas at the back you had to sprint up to over 60km/h to keep pace with the front of the peloton.

So, I got dropped, but there were only about 40 riders left in the race when I got dropped so it wasn´t too bad.


This was the same circuit that we raced a few weeks ago, and it suits me well. Not too many sharp corners, two highway bridges- generally a pretty open and fast course. I rode this race to the finale, I attacked with three kms too go, got pulled in with 1km to go, then attacked again only to be overtaken in the sprint finish. 35th spot- not bad. But If I had of attacked once at the 1km to go mark I would have gone top 20 which is a bit disappointing. I attacked too early becaue I was a bit mentally smashed having riden 350kms in training in the preceeding two days. Doing the extra training really helped my legs, but not my poor old brain!


This course was insane! each lap had about 20 corners and three quarters of the course was the width of a footpath! Not really my kind of circuit. To make matters worse it was pouring with rain for the whole day, and I was nursing the beginnings of yet another cold. I´ve never seen it rain so much in a single day before! I got pulled off the circuit at the 50km mark but had done enough to ride into 27th place, and enough cash to pay the weekly shopping bill. I´ve never done more sprints out of corners in my life! It was a really slow and cold race that didn´t really suit me, so it was good to come away from the race with a little cash.


In all the races I´m doing i seem to be coming in around mid field which is not too bad given that I race against a mixture of full time pros and local weekend warriors. From what the guys at the farm tell me this is pretty common for people when they first come out and race in Beligum, as without very specific preparation, it can be difficult to adjust to the style of racing. Like criterium racing back home the most important thing is being on the front at the start and too just go like buggery from the gun. i keep getting stuck at the back of the bunch, and its very difficult to do anything special from the back- especially considering the nature of the circuits that always seem to favour breakaways and attacking riders. There is no place for sit in sprinters over here unfortunately.

In other news Melbourne riders Adrian Hansen and Jacob Sutherland are doing really well over here. Jacob won his first race over here last week. It took him three trips over here to finally crack it, so it was a great effort from him. Adrian has been getting top tens here and there, and with a bit of luck could grab a win before he leaves for home on the 20th of August.

The weather was really nice last week which allowed for some big kms, probably somewhere in the region of 700-800km. This week the weather has been pretty terrible again unfortunately., but things look to be improving again.

Well done to all the Hawthorn competitors in the team time trial over the weekend, and I can´t wait to get back home and ride some track.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Envy- radness

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three more Races (well two that I was actually in)

Well the racing has been coming thich and fast at the moment- we´ve had three races in three days and its just been cycle, eat, sleep and repeat ending tomorrow with a kermise in Deinze.


A good fun little race that included two trips over a highway bridge to add a hill for the beligies. Even the skinny belgies climb as well as me which is quite amusing, so the railway bridges proved quite deceisive in terms of attacks going away.

In the end I rolled around with the bunch. Cam S made the jump and got 25th, I sat in for the sprint and some dude crashed in front of me on the last corner which sent me back through the bunch. I still managed to make some ground in the sprint but only got 35th or so. Bollocks, I think the leason from this is that it always pays to attack over here, especially when you don´t know the finishing circuit, and there are lots of corners- belgies are pretty slow through the chicanes because they push such ridiculously massive gears!

The race was won by Mario Willems, who could well be Stu Vaughan´s Belgian Doppelganger. He´s 47 years old, drives a hot mercedes and wins 40 races a season.

Boekhoute (pro race)

Second leason, if you ever come to race in Belgian get a Belgian licence rather than an international licence because that will let you enter pro races and race shoulder to shoulder with your heroes. Three Kingsnorth riders started this race, with Matty Gorter coming 40th. Not a bad effort. I rode out and watched the race and got in 120kms training and took some pictures. Big names in the race included last years Belgian champion Nico Eckhout, and six day superstars Iljo Keisse, Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi. The race was won by Gert Omloop, another former Belgian champion riding for Jartazi.


Just got back from this race about 30 minutes ago- and it was a complete smash fest. In the end I only got in 30 kms, but with the wind, still probably got 40th or so out of 70 starters. People were dropping like flies every 30 seconds it was so windy. I was the second last Kingsnorth rider left standing with the exception of one Kiwi Ben who came in a solid 12th. This race was all about who had the best sit, and I was last wheel just about all the time, behind every crash and every dropped wheel. Leason three, fight for the front row on the starting line or suffer the pain. However in the end not so concerned about having such a short day, because we race again tomorrow 120kms.

This race was won by Mario´s teammate Patrick Cocyout, who is also forty something and wins 40 races a year.

They both work full time

and no, they don´t take drugs

but they are apparently both former pros, who can make more money racing amateur races.

So looking forward to tomorrow and a long day in the saddle. I say looking forward to a long day in the saddle because I overhead Mario and Patrick talking at Westkappel, and they´re going to have a rest tomorrow.

Thank God! If those two guys race then its unlikely more than ten riders will be allowed to ride the full race without getting pulled off the course.

Ghent Fest

Off the bike Ghent is buzzing at the moment because its ghent fest, a ten day festival to god only knows. But what I do know is that there has been free entertainment every night in the city. I went down on the opening night which was Saturday and there were about 75,000 people out (according to the radio). There was lots of African music, dancing and drinking until about four in the morning. At this point I pulled up stumps, but it took me another hour and a half to actualy find the place where I locked up my town bike.

And it wasn´t in a difficult to find out of the way location either!

More Beers

Watou Trippel

St Barnardus Trippel

St Feullion Blonde

Brugge Trippel

All good but nowhere near as nice as the mighty Achel Trippel, which reminds me, I have one waiting in the fridge at home, so I better run.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Tour Comes to Town and I finish a race

As you are probably all aware on Monday the Tour finished in Ghent. So I spent most of the day hanging out in st Pietersplein in the centre of Ghent enjoying the festivities. They sure like getting drunk in public over here. The square, which is about 200 metres away from where the stage finished, was packed with about 20,000 people. It was huge. They had a big screen up, live bands and beer stalls set up everywhere.

In the crowd I saw Robbie McEwens wife and kids and Quckstep pro Wouter Weylandt. I also saw all the team buses, and watched the riders go back to the buses at the end of the stage. When Gert Steegmans won nearly everyone in the square was booing- they wanted McEwen or Boonen to win, and Steegmans rained on their parade. McEwen is huge here because he lives in Brakel, which is about 20kms away from the centre of Ghent. At the end of the stage I saw Tom Boonen ride past in his Green, jersey, and he was like the pied piper. When he rode past people people ran from every direction in a mad frenzy.

You may have noticed the crash in the closing stages of the race, that occured outside the supermarket in Mariakeke where I do most of my shopping. The guys in the farm were watching the repaly on the televisions and it was like, ´isn´t that the aldi around the corner´. The party went on well into the evening, the student district in town was absolutely pumping and everyone was having a good time. Apparently Ghent festival starts on Friday night so there will be more festivities like the tour stage in the next few days.

Racing- Wachtebeke

Yesterday i raced at Wachtebeke for the second time this week. It was a sort of two stage tour thingy. I also bumped into Cam Streistermanis from Melbourne which was good. I finally finished a race coming in in 31st place, which I wasn´t displeased with. I did too much work early on in the race again which was a bit stupid, but I was having a lot of fun chasing down and putting myself in breaks that really weren´t going anywhere. At about the halfway point there was a really heavy thunder storm so by the finish line I was covered head to toe in road grit. When it started getting cold my legs started to seize up with cramp and I thought I was going to get dropped. but luckily the peloton slowed down at this moment which allowed me to ride back on. I´m really pleased that I have been able to improve with each race. The style of racing takes some getting used to, but once you start to get the hang of it its not so bad.

The locals don´t pull turns and don´t do any work- no favors are asked and none given. The races are like 120km points races on the track. You sprint hard out of every corner and the attacks are constant until the winning break is formed. Im feeling really tired today, and my eyes still have sand and mud in them which is a pain in the arse. The next race is a crit on friday which is only 70kms long, so that should be a little easier. Unfortunately the weather has turned sour again which may put a little bit of a dampner on training for the next day or so.

Monday, July 09, 2007

booze tips

from blur's hedonistic bassist, alex james, as found in his autobiography, which is a funny ol' read. i'm fond of the two pages talking about the hype of the brits, and then immediately skipping to the hangover, without enlightening us as to the night's happenings, since i'm sure he doesn't even know.

number one: one beer for every three cocktails. the carbonated beer allows the stomach to absorb the cocktail. this way you don't get hit later on, having drunk more than you thought you could. keep this in mind and you can (un)safely booze all night

number two: a carrot per bottle of champagne, it's good for the breath.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Drinking and Racing

Well I´ve had two rqces now in Belgium- my form is shit due to illness, and too much work before I came, but I´m improving greatly with each race

In the first race at Assenede my seatpost slipped by an inch after the first cobbled section which made getting the power down difficult. I only managed 20kms before I had to retire. Not so good. But it was kind of a blessing in disguise because of the gale forced winds there were heps of crashes- two Kingsnorth guys had to bin there bikes due to crashing.

Earlier today I raced in Wacterbeke. 120km Kermise- again there was a 1.5km cobbled section on each lap. It was a bit slower from the gun today so I started attacking myself. Pretty funny in the condition that I´m in at the moment. I managed to hang in with the best of them for 80kms today which I was pretty happy with. Up to that point I was riding with the eventual winner which was good. But I rode a realy stupid race chasing down each break away and doing a lot of work. Next race I will take it a bit more easy- I´m starting to learn the guys to watch. One of the guys we race against is called Mario- he´s 47 and wins about 40 races a season. today he was a DNF due to a broken derailleur- but when he made an attack on the first lap 100 riders jumped on his wheel. Very funny.

So basically I´m improving a lot each race and am aiming to finish the next race riding a bit smarter. My form is really bad so I´m riding on shear balls and stupidity basically. Which brings me to my next topic- racing on the cobbles. The cobblestones are romanticised so much in cycling I couldn´t wait to ride them. Now after two races I´ve had a gut full. My balls have copped an absolute hiding over the last week- both in races and in training. I´m going to try and have a wank tonight with the aim of reducing the target size so to speak. I would reccommend anyone riding over the cobbles to wank regularly to make sure yr balls are as small as possible.

Ah well, the tour comes tomorrow, so my balls will get a rest for one day.

Beers I´ve tried so far (no joke)

Mannekin Piss Weatbeer- Hoegarden style witbier- not bad, just no different to hoegarden really.

Chimay- All, the blue grand reserve is still my favourite by a long shot

Achel Trippel- the best blond tripel I have had so far in Belgium

Moeder Overste- Or mother superior in Flemish. Probably my second favorite trippel. as with the Achtel- you wouldn´t believe that its 9%

Delirum Tremens- another blond trippel. Not as good as the last 2 abey trippels, but you can get it nearly everywhere which is a huge plus. I love driving past all the cafes with the delirium elephant painted on the side.

Hoegarden Grand Cru- Not great.

La Trappe Trippel- Good, but a little bit of a bitter aftertaste. Another blonde trippel. third best trippel so far, not far off the pace.

St Feullion- A brown trippel that is quite sweat. I had this one last time I was in Belgium and its really good.

So cleraly I have to branch out a bit into the brown beers, frambooisen etc.

Troll- another blond trippel. Good, no problems really.

No real stinkers so far- I´ve had a few others but my Flemish is not so good so I won´t bother trying to spell them.

Looking forward to seeing Roobie at the tour tomorrow- internet shop is closing got to run ciao

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Belgium Uno

The keyboard is french, the blogger interface is in Dutch- Prepare for editorial standards to plumet.

The flight went reasonably well- I managed six to eight hours sleep and got of the plane feeling reasonably good. We had delays at Heathrow due to the closure of Glasgow airport, terrorist cvnts etc. The small seats did bruise ,y hamstrings a little however, but after a few days they seem to be allright. All in all the trip took about thirty hours non stop from Melbourne to Ghent. The bike took a few knocks on the trip over but seems to be OK. Judging by the hundreds of unattended bags at Brussels airport they seem to have a few baggage handling issues! Brussels airport is pretty funny- Its massive- almost as big as Hong Kong airport- but only hqs about ten planes parked there at any one time. All the public trqnsport in Belgium is the same- massive amounts of infrastructure with little apparent patronage.

I have only ridden 200kms in the past three days because all the blokes at the farm are telling me to save myself for the races. I went for a 70km spin this morning, and will try and go out after dinner as well to do some short intervals and get the heart rate up. It stays light here until 11 at the moment so there is plenty of time to train. Its been raining quite a bit at the moment so eqµach ride I have come home covered in mud. So far I have ridden out tozards Brugge, Aaslt qnd into Zeeland in Holland. Holland was the most beatiful so far with the fields full of summer crops.

At the moment the farm has six Aussies qnd one American with a few whingeing poms hanging around the joint as well, but not staying. The place is a bit of a dump, but has everything you need and the company is first rate. There are some great personalities, and Im laughing half the time.

The riding over here is great, there are so many small farm roads and bikepaths you can ride for hours. The weather has been a problem as it has been shithouse all week with no let up expected until qfter this weekend.

My first race is tomorrow- Im looking forward to it, but not expecting much because I still feel a bit ordinary, and I hear the standard is very high.

Looking forward to the weather improving shortly


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Alice Springs

So I have been Travelling in the NT for a couple of days now. Anyways, thought it might be a good opotunity to talk about howards indigeneous plan. Basically it is flawed on different levels. Firstly, different communities require different specific strategies. Secondly, we have a lack of Police in Melbourne, where will the extra police come from? And it would cost soo much, I would expect double pay to work in a remote community. And thirdly, would it work? I just think it will be insulting to some Indigenous people to have there lives policed more than other Australians.