Thursday, February 07, 2008

Goodbye Sheldon

The world is a poorer place for the passing of Sheldon Brown this week, from a heart attack at age 63. Widely considered the cycling world's foremost mechanical guru, he maintained a sprawling and encyclopedic website on all things bike that is far and away the best such resource on the internet. If you don't know the site, do yourself a favour and check it out. It's the sort of place that makes for hours of pleasurable diversion.

Despite his enyclopedic knowledge Sheldon Brown was not a know-it-all, in contrast to so many who infect the byways of the internet. His writings were infused with his love of cycling, a self-deprecating sense of humour and more than a touch of happy eccentricity. But if you wanted to know whether a 27 inch tyre would fit a 700c wheel, or the gear ratios of an old Sturmey Archer hub or any of the other arcania of cycling, the answer was likely to be on Sheldon's website. And if it wasn't - a post on any of a number of bicycle forums often brought an insightful reply from the man himself.

He said Igor, the eagle on his helment, symbolised how he viewed himself and how he wanted the world to view him: independent minded, original, a person with a sense of humor and somebody who doesn't take himself too seriously.

Sheldon Brown was all that and more. He will be missed.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A tale of two rides.

Two great rides - two totally different results.

I'd been looking forward to the Audax Alpine Classic for ages but it clearly wasn't to be from the outset. I packed my bike in a bit of a hurry before heading to the airport and unfortunately the rear gear shifter broke in transit. Thanks to the wonderful efforts of Peter Moore from Abbotsford Cycles - easily Melbourne's best bike shop - I was mechanically right to go, but a late night drinking session with an old journo mate in Melbourne on Friday night meant I wasn't in much of a state Saturday and still decidedly sub-optimal Sunday.

In truth, probably a few things came together to stuff me. Hangover, unfit, overweight. But so it goes. I made it up the grueling climbs of Towonga Gap and Falls Creek but at the top after just 70km my heart rate was stuck at 110 beats per minute 40 minutes after I stopped so I reluctantly decided to take the sag wagon back to Bright. Disappointing, but so it goes.

Still, the Alpine Classic remains one of the best organised and run rides I've ever taken part in and the atmosphere in Bright over the entire weekend was fabulous with a celebration of French food, music and culture. I'll be back next year - thin and tough and ready. If I can lose 20kg I'll buy myself a flash new bike. Maybe something plastic like Glo's stunning new Shogun.

Well done to Steve, who managed to finish the 200km despite his bad case of jangled nerves and despite narrowly cheating death by waking us all up at 4.45am and also to Ken who also went the full distance in his usual fine style.

Today was my first attempt at the Tahune MTB Marathon. There's two choices - a 100km and a 50km and I sensibly opted for the 50. The course was a stunning mix of ride trails, scary technical sections and single track and I rode my heart out to finish in 4 hours. Despite a small stack on a relatively easy bit (grabbing a handful of front brake didn't help) which left me with a bloody knee, I had a fantastic time and can't wait for the next event. No trouble from the heart - so I guess the experiment has proven heavy drinking and riding doesn't mix. Who'd have thunk it?

593km so far this year.