Journal

Zen and The Art – Robert Pirsig

On the subject of maintenance, I note this week the passing of Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. As usual, being a step or two or three or four behind the rest of the world I was a late comer to Pirsig’s masterpiece. I didn’t read it until I was…

Tooling Up

My brother and his family have taken up cycling recently and in an exchange of emails over the weekend I was advising him on the sorts of tools and gear it was wise to carry on outings – or at least the sort of stuff I usually carry when I go out for a ride.…

Fickle Fates

Hard on the heels of my post about the death of Mike Hall comes word that Giro d’Italia winner Michele Scarponi was killed on training ride near his home in Italy. Apparently, from what I have read, the driver of a van failed to give way at an intersection, failed to see Scarponi coming along…

A New Beginning

A lonely highway stretches to the horizon in outback Queensland. Photography by Roff Smith

At the risk of sounding – and indeed, being – a bit like Star Wars’ George Lucas, who waited some thirty-odd years before getting back to the continuation of his Jedi Sci-Fi series, I am at last relaunching my suspended cycling blog, although with considerably less fanfare than that generated by Mr Lucas.

Crossing Lines

It never fails to astound me how many wheezing sickly asthmatics there are in the world of elite sport. And how many champions have overcome chronic obscure cardiovascular ailments whose names and symptoms take several pages of fine print to describe and which can be treated only with powerful doses of drugs of the sort…

Long Reads

The Wheels of Chance

Cycing into the sunrise on misty spring morning in the marshes near Pevensey, East Sussex

It was a tram driver’s strike in Melbourne back in the early Nineties that got me riding a bicycle again as an adult. I was living in Elsternwick that year, an old bayside suburb in the city’s inner, and catching the ting-a-ling tram down Glenhuntly Road each morning to a fairly dull job writing features…

My Bicycle and I

For some time now I have wanted to find an image that would illustrate the title of this blog, and encapsulate the sense of partnership between my bicycle and I as we make our dawn rounds of the English countryside – being the inspectors of sunrises as Thoreau once characterised himself in Walden. And this…

The Roads Less Travelled

Dawn mist rising on old marsh road, Pevensey, East Sussex, England

When I think of all the places I have been to and the journeys I have taken on my bicycles over the years none have been as transforming as the journey that began on the streets of Melbourne many years ago when I dusted off my old tourer and began commuting to work. I have…

The Wight Stuff

“Isle of Fright!” screamed the page-three headlines in the newspaper that morning announcing the discovery of a new species of ‘vicious’ flesh-eating dinosaur that had been found embedded in the 120 million year-old cliffs of England’s fair and gentle Isle of Wight. Believing this walking nightmare to be the long-elusive great-great-grand-daddy of Tyrannosaurus rex, palaeontologists around the world were hailing it as one of the most significant dinosaur finds in recent years. An artist’s rendition showed it striding, fang and claw, through the swampy landscape that characterised the area at the time, in the company of an iguanodon, a brachiosaurus, and an armour-plated polecanthus, other prehistoric beasties that had also once roamed the island. Stirring stuff. And so for the sheer giddy hell of it I hopped aboard my old tourer and rode over there to see if I could find some dinosaur bones myself.

Pole Position

They call it the sleigh ride: the three-hour flight on a ski-equipped Hercules cargo plane from the U.S. base at McMurdo to that most exotic of Antarctic destinations: the South Pole. Schoolboy keen, I showed up early at the icy airstrip, bundled up, bags packed, eager to go. It was the summer of 2000 and…