Monday, 26 March 2012

Hiatus

Sorry there's been no posts for a while.
I had a three-week holiday, and stupidly told myself I'd be able to post while I was in another timezone, supposedly relaxing, no problems!
Turns out that wasn't the case.
I didn't get on the job when I got home either.
There's been some time-consuming changes at home (got a dog!) and at work (new role!); but I don't think I'm about to go and register urbancaninetips any time soon, so I hope to resume regular service asap.
Thanks for your patience!
URT.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Tip 186: Find a bike festival sprawling all over your normal cycling route

You're trundling along, thinking about the day's events, or the answer to 11-across, or how embarrassing your pedaling technique is, and then you see it: tents. People. Vegan food and bright lights. Shills and men on stilts. Thronging throngs of people in loose knits. A healthy living / bicycle festival has taken over the park you ride your bike through. In an irony so delicious you could bottle it and sell it as a celebrity-endorsed marinade, you are forced to dismount your bike and walk. BONUS TIP: What that irony-sauce would go well with is a serve of hare Krishna curry they sell at gigs like this. Lock your bike and go seek them out. On the way, buy a calico bag with all proceeds going to bikes for Zambia. And look: free One Less Car stickers! See what they did there?  

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Tip 185: Allow an inopportune flat tyre to put you on the path to emotional ruin.


It's 5.55pm, and you said you'd go buy a bottle of wine before meeting your lover at a restaurant approximately 14 km from here, at precisely 6.30pm. Don't be late, they reminded you. Do not be late.
You're doing the maths in your head. There's a Dan Murphy's on the cross road on the way there. If I take my bike right inside and buy whatever's in the bargain bin at the front, I can be in and out in five minutes.
That leaves half an hour to cross town, meaning an average speed of 28 km/h. I can do it, you say to yourself as you roll up your drive-side pant leg. I can do it. Maybe not with respect for all the road rules, but I reckon I can do it.
You're ruminating on whether you will have stopped sweating before the dessert course as you unlock your bike.
You grasp the bars with intent, and throw your leg over, foreseeing the tremendous Cadel-sur-Galibier-esque effort that will be required to make it happen.
But when that first pedal stroke powers you forward, the city echoes with the sound of rim on concrete, heads turn in horror, and you realise at the same time as everyone else that you've got a flat. You will never make it. You are in deep shit.

BONUS TIP: Call and admit to your lover you haven't gone shopping for tubes since 2004? Blow an insane amount on a taxi? Try to get a bus and hope the driver is Sandra Bullock from Speed? Lie on your stomach, pound your fists on the concrete and wail?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Tip 184: Shoulder your weapon.

Maybe it's a gutter, maybe its a landslide caused by persistent shelling of a hillside by hostile forces - sometimes on uneven ground you got to get off your bike.
You can push it like a sissy, or you can lift it.
Now, pushing it like a sissy is fine – great even – if you have the word sissy tattooed all over your face. In comic sans.
Lifting is where you prove that you've got the guns, and/or that you bought a bike as light as the finest macaroon.

BONUS TIP: Don't hoist it like a mate had fifteen beers with you then asked you to help move a couch.
Raise it like a Marine hoists the body of his brothers killed in combat in another meaningless war: crisply, reverently. And with a growing hatred for authority. A hatred that will incubate a slow burning desire to never own another machine that burns the oil his comrades died protecting, to grow a beard, move to San Francisco, stop voting, get some tattoos and ride everywhere.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tip 183: Wink madly cause you got a bug in your eye.


You may think you're hot, riding around with your Frogskins tucked stylishly into the top button of your Chambray shirt, but when some filthy, winged thing from the Order Diptera is drowning in your lacrimal fluid, scrabbling its horned feet against your lens as you attempt to extinguish it's vital essence by mashing it with your eyelashes, you'll feel pretty shit. As will any pedestrian enticed by your mad winking to step out onto the road.

BONUS TIP: You and the angry pedestrian might feel bad, but spare a thought for the hundred-odd larvae back at the bug's house waiting for mum to get home and make her famous dung-and-germ pie. They'll be waiting a long time. A long hungry time.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Tip 182: How not to get skinned alive.


You roll through the traffic lights just before the big uphill, and there's a couple of dudes rocking lycra up ahead. You drop the hammer just as their thoughts turn to suffering. As you hear them clicking down through their cassette, seeking solace in a nice easy ring, blast by them like a foul hot wind from the north. 
Your legs will hurt but don't show it. Keep your upper body still so it looks like you're cruising.
As you crest the hill, resist the urge to turn round and blow them a big sloppy kiss.

BONUS TIP: If you suffer such a shortage of humility, it will be punished: Later that day the lycra warriors will track you down, knock you out of your swivel chair, pin you to the floor of the open plan office, close your spreadsheet without saving, then remove your skin and ride off wearing it fluttering behind as a tattered red cape.

Tip 181: Why *is* steel so insistent about how it's real?

Of all the bicycle-fabrics, steel seems to be the most unsure of its itself, existentially.
It's always proclaiming how "real" it is.  As though the metal whose name stands for toughness would float away ethereally if we didn't know how goddamn present and corporeal it is. Is Carbon mythological? Is Aluminium a fairy-tale? Is @titanium a fake account?
Steel must have some deep-seated issues.  What I hear is that it used to be iron, but isn't it funny you never hear about it talking about where it came from?

BONUS TIP: When you think about it, people will tell you something's steel, but how do you know? especially once it's painted, but even when it isn't.
Sure its shiny and grey and it rings a little when you rap it with you knuckles, but how do you know for sure what everyone says is steel is steel?
Maybe it is a grand conspiracy to trick us into buying something we don't even know what it is! Maybe we've been riding round all this time with our eyes closed saying steel is real cause people told us steel is real, but that's just what they want us to think!
Mmm, deep, man, deep. Pass the bong.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Tip 180: Get your cables hooked around someone's handlebars when you park near them.


Pull your bike.
It's stuck somehow.
Pull harder.
It's still stuck.
Stupid ...fucking... ngh... maybe if I jiggle it
Are my pedals stuck in their spokes? No? Is my bike still locked? No? THEN WHY CAN”T I FUCKING MOVE IT?
WhY! ngh WON'T! ngh YOU! Ngh FUCKING! Ngh GET OUT OF THERE ngh nnngh nngh!?!?
OH! OH! It's those mother blasted cables!
I swear to god I disown my own fucking viscera if I am not gong to get this satan-worshipping shit-spawn machine unhooked off this stupid useless bastard's piece of shit bike.... Aaaand, there you go. phew.

BONUS TIP: To help calm yourself, once the bike is free saw off their handlebars, set fire to your bike, blow up the bike loop that started the whole conflagration then blow off your own head.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Tip 179: Nearly get hit by a falling tree.

Powerful riding sweeps through the city creating a mighty wind. Before which the reed bends and the mighty oak creaks.
Ride powerful enough, for long enough, and you'll cause the city's established trees to uproot themselves and tumble, with a surprisingly load roar, and in seeming slow motion, right into the bike lane.
BONUS TIP: Exaggerate both the girth of the trunk, and the proximity. By the time you tell this story for the second time, you'll have nearly died and got a bird's nest stuck in your 'fro.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tip 178: Embrace the low effort world of shabby-chic.


Sometimes it's nice to let your beard grow. Rather than stressing about shaving and all.
Fuck the high-effort, high expense world of modern fashion and just let yourself go. It's a minimalistic, environmentally-sound approach
Let your nose hair grow down into your moustache, while your vegemite stains join together until your wardrobe is all dark brown. It won't affect your self esteem unless you decide to let it.
Once you've reached a comfortable equilibrium, start to relax other socially-dictated “standards”.
Don't grease your chain, don't clean your downtube, don't dry off your bike and don't clean off the spider webs.
It's all just an capitalo-aesthetic conspiracy to make you spend more dough on the giant shiny carousel that is the modern bike industry.
BONUS TIP: Well, it worked for Joaquin Phoenix right?



Monday, 6 February 2012

Tip 177: Carry an impressively large number of beers.


Passers-by will make eye contact with you, and give you the nod.
If this has never happened to you, you haven't carried enough beers yet.
Once you've balanced a cold couple dozen on your handlebars, you're in the club.
Then when you see someone balancing a slab or better yet, a keg, on one thigh as they pedal up the sunny road one saturday afternoon, you'll give them the nod.
Good job! the nod says. Good work matey. Good one.
They'll feel good. You'll feel good. It's a good club to be in.
BONUS TIP: If you drop your slab, the rules of the club say you have to lick up the spilt beer.
Get your tongue into the cracks in the concrete. Try not to lick the broken glass - unless there's beer on it.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Tip 176: Ride in bare feet.


Seven skin layers, each more tender than the last, guard the fragile red inner world from the hard grey outer world.
Unless your pedals are made of slipper, and unless your power output is more candle than 100-watt globe, the grip on your pedals will bite the tender foot flesh like a turtle nips a curious finger: vigorously.

BONUS TIP:  In this world of carbon soled shoes, pearl izumi elite thermal toe covers, and all manner of capitalo-podiatry, getting the wind into that yucky green-grey region between the toes can be as liberating as getting out on the bike in the first place.
Not only does it dispel the fungi, it evokes the wanderlust and simplicity of a bygone era, when unemployment was stubbornly high, it never rained and all the townfolk did was ride steel bikes up and down the main street, making eyes at the young people they'd have to marry to get to know.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Tip 175: Kick a cat (by accident, of course).


At night, feline senses are tuned to somewhat to possums, a little to rubbish bins, but mostly to other cats they need to fight in glorious sepia slow-motion to win back the love of their life. 
They pay no heed to the gentle hum of Vittorias rolling on asphalt as they patrol the night like ninjas.
So don't worry when a fast moving kitty screams out from under a front fence and gets tangled with your foot at the bottom of your cadence. 
It's just another tribulation they can build into their narrative of redemption.

BONUS TIP: It's an adequate device for the cat masses, but the Scorceses; Coppolas and Von Triers of feline cinema eschew the silent swift bicycle as narrative element. 
Too much deus ex machina; too much like lazy plotting. 
True cat tragedy involves falling from serious height and mysteriously landing on your back...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Tip 174: Learn about the awesome power of brands.


Brands. What are they?
Some dead French guys name and a picture of a crocodile. A greek god and a thingo. A couple letters in a particular font.
Why?
Somehow the brand has things in it that rub off on us.
Like what?
We do not know. We don't want to know. Instead we talk about stitching, fabrics and engineering.
How does it rub off on us?
By getting the product. Get the product.
Which brands work best?
Which brands cost most?
Is cycling itself a brand?
Aahahahahahaha! LOLSIES! Mwahahaha. Yes.

BONUS TIP: If you want to feel hotter than Joan of Arc and more popular than David Hasselhoff circa 2009, show your nous for cycling brands. Here's the secret hidden trick to all of everything. You don't need to be cycling to deploy the awesome power of brandpower!
Wear a Shimano hat to mow your lawn; put a BMC bidon on your desk; and get Huffy tattooed up your inner fore-arm. People will go batshit crazy for you.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tip 173: Enjoy good value.

Cycling is theoretically free. Although having to buy three bottles of gatorade g series [Prime, Perform, Recover!] for every single race, commute, or trip to the shops  means it ain't as free as it was.  :(
The reality is you can only orbit so far from the cash register at the local bike shop before crippling mechanical or status issues send you back into the well-exploited mine shafts of your bank account.
When it comes to cycling a penny saved is a penny earned.  Take bargains when you see them.
BONUS TIP: Bargains are only sometimes socially palatable.
Some things it's better to pay more for:
“This painting cost $25,000. It's an original McCubbin.”
“Our dinner bill was $400! Can you imagine!”
Other things you get plaudits for buying low: a Prada skirt at 90 per cent off; a room at the Hyatt for just $60 a night; a tray of mangoes for just eight bucks.
In trying to figure out which category the Aldi bike falls into, consider that a 21-speed for $99 has much in common with a $400 dinner. Before long they are both going to turn to shit.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Tip 172: Talk back to a cop

If you ask the cop who pulls you over if he wishes he ever gets to do proper police work, if his kids are proud of him, and whether he's always been such a dick, do it in the knowledge you've not just kissed your chances of leniency good-bye, you've buried them in the concrete foundations of the big road project your fine will help fund.
BONUS TIP: If you're out on a lightly-trafficked by-way you may take some big bruises home as a reminder of the merits of having a big mouth.
“The cyclist appeared agitated at that time, your honour, and when he lunged at me I used the baton in the manner set out in my training to minimise the threat to my person.”
“Case dismissed. Complainant to pay the state's costs.”

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Tip 171: Knit your bike something warm.

Bikes have feelings. As much as the anthropo-centric dominant paradigm will deny it, they feel joy and pain as we do. Maybe more.
They hate those cold mornings like the devil himself. But with no mouth, a bike has no way to express their objection to the cruelty visited on them by so-called “higher” beings.
It takes a giant empathetic heart, a true cyclophile, to understand how a bike feels, and to knit one, purl one until their bike is swaddled in finest cashmere.
BONUS TIP: On the road side, locked to a loop, your bike will suffer crushing social stigma if the knitted accessory looks too dorky. Give close consideration to whether they have the chops to ironically rock a “nanna sweater” before making them one.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Tip 170: Start a new job.


After you've filed your resignation letter, lived through those glorious last few weeks where you tell yourself repeatedly "all this will soon be over," and given your old boss a few new rules to live by on the way out the door, you will have to find a new job.
Such are the demands of our how-soon-can-we-buy-the-ceo-a-new-private-jet? society.
Pick a job and apply for it, abundant with hope the middle-management will be kindly, the email system won't be Lotus Notes and you'll get ball point pens that cost more than 39 cents.
On your first day, get the bus. Go look at where you can park your bike. Is it secure? How will you get ironed garments to your destination? Is there a locker? A shower? Will you have to see your colleagues naked? Can you shmooze your boss while he rubs himself with a $400 Egyptian cotton towel and you dryyourself on your socks?
Then pore over the map and choose which way you will get there. Choose a route that looks direct and safe and commit it to memory.
BONUS TIP: You will never ride that way again. Every day, a crazy taxi driver, a frightening incline or a cavernous pothole will make you take a different left, or an earlier right, or start the whole thing on the path along the river instead of going down Brunswick St because goddamn it risk profiles rise inexorably with constant exposure to low-level consequences and bugger how come I always get thorns in my tyres when I ride through the park and why is this light-cycle so antagonisingly slow and if those school-run mums' SUVs got any bigger they'd need Heavy Rigid licenses and high vis shirts...
After about 15 years, you'll can expect to have your route to work figured out. Of course, by then the robots will be doing your old job at a tenth the cost, and you'll be sitting at home weeping as you nuzzle your bike's top tube for comfort.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tip 169: Hate on gravity


Humans hate gravity. They do most anything to defy its iron law and laud those who soar highest: the Wright Brothers, Yuri Gagarin, Superman. Those caught breaking the law get hit with the full weight of planet Earth.
Road cyclists are discouraged from seeking flight. But they can defy gravity while still keeping a few square centimetres of rubber on the road.
Lean in to a turn. The straight line between you and the ground will be full of a whole lot of air. It may be the best feeling in all of cycling.
BONUS TIP: Whenever you ride, you should wear a three-piece suit like Orville Wright, a cape like superman and a big bad helmet, like Yuri Gagarin.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Tip 168: Get chased by a slavering hound.


Many things dogs like - such as rolling in decayed possum, sniffing other dogs genitals, and pooing in public with a funny little smile on their face - reveal their total absence of aesthetic sense. So when a dog determines you worthy of the chase, you are right to feel aggrieved.
This is $450 bucks worth of Rapha, I've been working on these legs, and this haircut comes from the same guy who styles Guy Sebastian. So take your furry little head and your cute wet nose and piss off, you troglodyte!

BONUS TIP: With dogs, the dullards, these argument have no traction. They'll chase you with the same savage determination they put into tearing open a rubbish bin, making everyone who sees the pursuit wonder if you wash.

Tip 167: Wave to the crossing guard.


Your ride is kind of like facebook. You have friends on your ride you would never have in real life. The man with the weird moustache who is the crossing guard at the local school gets a daily salutation. The lady sweeping the footpath in front of the medical apparatus shop gets a wave. All manner of human flotsam that bobs along the waves of traffic gets a polite nod or a hello.

BONUS TIP: Among the flotsam, some of these people are drowning. The 21st century is a shipwreck that has disgorged gasping hordes into the cold deep infinity of community-free modern life. Grab hold of a few before they sink beneath the surface.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Tip 166: Answer back a drunk pedestrian.

  • I would be pleased to sample some of your tasty beverage, but I'm in rather a rush just now.
  • While flattered by your error, I must advise I am not Lance Armstrong.
  • I assume you are referring to the seat post, and you are quite mistaken - it finishes at the seat.
  • I do have a drivers license, I just prefer not to use it.
  • While flattered by your error, I must advise I am not Kathy Watt.
  • Thanks, but I prefer to keep my pink bits covered up.
  • 100 psi, or 6.89475729 bars.


BONUS TIP: Shout questions at drunk pedestrians. Here are some to keep em guessing:


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tip 165: Turn out the lights on a parked bike.

When you see the flashing lights parked on the street you can continue on your way, minding your own business.
Just like all the other solipsistic fuckers that are ripping the beating empathetic heart from this town and nibbling absent-mindedly on its slippery exterior.
Or you can reach in there among the brake cables and D-Locks and spider webs, feel around for the little on-off switch and push it.
If you do take the latter course, you will be full of grandiose feelings and warm thoughts about yourself for a surprisingly long period.
Do it more than once in one block and you'll conclude you are to charity what Russel Brand is to celebrity, and consider submitting yourself for an Order of Australia in next year's Australia Day honours list.
BONUS TIP: Everyone who sees you will conclude you are one of those yucky bike-fiddlers, and consider submitting your name to the cops.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Tip 164: Front basket.

For when you need to transport something aesthetically pleasing or status enhancing, they invented the front basket. Ideally suited to moving potted flowers, esp. petunias, or rather pricey bottles of Dolce d'Alba, they are a poorer choice for buying 64-packs of cheap scratchy toilet paper. BONUS TIP: Bikes are neither kangaroos nor VW beetles, in which frontal storage appears not to affect direction finding awfully. On a bicycle with a loaded front basket the direction you are going in at any moment is one you chose quite some time ago. This means before you crash, you know it's going to happen. If this seems to be happening, unburden the front basket by reaching in, uncorking the Vino and consuming. You won't save yourself, but it would be a shame to let it waste.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tip 163: Tell someone their lights aren't working.

When the cyclist in front of you disappears in between the bright white flashes of your front light, you automatically assume they are just a cycling desperado. One of those strobe-lit ninja-riders enthusiastically edging ever closer to death.
But when you catch them at the traffic signal and stand there, mentally tut-tutting in a patrician fashion, you notice there is a red flasher hanging there on their seat-post, dull and darkened like a 7-eleven never is.
You rustle your messenger bag, or do a little throat clearing to get their attention, then politely advise re: the inert status of their light emitting diodes.
There will be an awkward pause after they advise that they have run out of battery. Don't tell them they should have charged it up. You're not their mum.
BONUS TIP: Unless in fact you are their mum, don't reach out and check if they're lying by testing the on-off button. That puts your hand awfully close to their behind and that could get you sued, arrested, slapped, or beaten to death (depending on how far from the legalistic cocoon of the inner city you have this chance encounter).

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tip 162: Clean off filth.



When the weight of the bike is two-thirds crud, when you don't have to wear long pants to work because everything below the knee is permanently stained black, and when your rear cassette resembles a termite mound, it may be time to clean off the filth.