Sunday, December 11, 2011

Aliens Unite! and Gentleman Joe

Just when I was beginning to feel like Daffyd with a bike shoved up me arse, I actually met some people on roadbikes!

Yesterday, while ripping away on a big bastard climb, I passed a small group of cyclists (actually a group of small cyclists and their trainer) perched on the side of the road about halfway up. I crested, turned around and zoomed back down to find out who they were.

We chatted for a bit, exchanged numbers, and hit the road.

They were a group of young (13-16 YO) riders and their coach getting in some miles ahead of leaving for a 3 day stage race on Lombok which is a selection race for further regional and national races.

I'm keen to meet up with the coach after their return to find out more about the racing and selection structure as it seems a little odd.

The riders had bikes and kit provided by the Indonesian Sports federation, but I'm not sure how they got to this point without any local races to showcase their talent or interest.

In a scene which has repeated itself ad nauseum on countless group rides all over our fair planet,
there was one rider, slightly older (no, not me you cheeky buggers!), who was blabbing on about how the younger riders were not serious and were too lazy in their training. You can guess the rest...I turned to the 13 year old girl riding beside me and said, "Uh oh, looks like we've lost someone...". She just smiled and said, "big hill...". Class.

We all said our goodbyes a few km later before they returned to Denpasar and I continued my climb up into the clouds at Kintamani.

At 5:30 this morning, my oatmeal feast was interrupted by an sms from the coach inviting me over to his place when he's back from the race. Cool.

Seeing these kids out halfway up the side of a mountain on a rainy day, being followed by their coach on a scooter hauling pump, drinks, etc reminded me of the people that were my role models when I was a youngster shaving my legs before I had any hair on my chin.
There was one fellow who stands out.

Following our move to Alberta, when I was 13, I had the fortune to find Velocity Cycle and its owner, Joe Zombor.

You can read his bio here.

He was equal parts Clark Gable, Francesco Moser and had a quality that people currently think exists only in Jens Voigt. Class to spare, a strong hand on your saddle when you were a bonking 13 year old in over your head with the old guys, and a drop dead gorgeous Cinelli that even a summer storm knew better than to sully with its impertinent rain drops.

He was a fount of great commonsense advice for riders young and old and stressed that one be serious about sport, eat right, and train-train-train. Often when I was too tired or lazy to get on the bike, I would think of what his reaction would be. Then I would get on the bike.

When we hit the roads east of Edmonton on a Sunday morning it was always a great social occasion for Joe and his buddies after a long work week. Why they would want a 13 year old kid tagging along is beyond me. Yet, I never heard anything other than positive words and encouragement. He would often dip his hand into the cavalry blue musette that was permanently slung across his back and offer out fruit candies to his riding mates.

There was another piece of cargo that occupied space in that musette. Whether it was a Joe original or a habit from the old country, at regular intervals he would produce a small piece of hardwood and use it to graze the running surface of his wheels to glean off any glass and stones which could destroy an expensive tubular.

As I have been reminded by Wife- it's not as big as it looks.

I was reminded of this ritual one morning earlier this past week when I noticed a pile of glass on the road whilst walking Mutt. Then I saw more. Then I looked up the road...

There is a popular drink here called Teh Botol. It is essentially a super-saturated solution of sugar in tea, which is approximately sweet enough to raise the dead.

These bottles lay broken on the road at regular intervals as far as the eye could see. Why? How? Who knows?

Local opinion is divided as to whether they fell off a truck or were purposely broken. They were all along about 5km of road.

If it was done on purpose, chapeau to the asshole(s) for keeping the hate running long enough to accomplish this. Perhaps there is discipline here after all. I would've started laughing my sack off after about the 3rd explosion.

So, after half an hour of sweeping the road, I began to think of Joe and his little block of wood. I don't run tubulars on my road bike any more, but tires are expensive all the same.

For my efforts, I was given a free helmet by the Sosro people. Kidding. I'm a kidder.


  1. Great pic of Joe, get your stuff yet?

  2. I don't think there's a bad photo of him. Rumor has it he was kicked out of Hungary for hoarding all the Suave.
    Unless you sent me 2 tablespoons of dust and a dead moth, I guess I'll be waiting a bit longer.