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Carbon Addiction: Bikes, Words & Life

Carbon Addiction: Bikes, Words & Life

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Carbon Addiction: Bikes, Words & Life

285 Seiten
3 Stunden
Sep 1, 2013


My name is Peter and I am an addict.

What began innocently with a token fitness drive on a cheap hybrid bicycle several years ago, quickly and quite unexpectedly took hold of me with a vice-like grip; one that cannot be easily loosened even to this day. Whilst initially I tried to hide it from the outside world, my little Lycra secret, I have come to accept road cycling is an all-consuming addiction that has led to some impossible-to-ignore changes in my life and come at high financial cost. I cannot deny it has affected my family, my friends and my health. But do you know what? I couldn’t be happier.

Carbon Addiction: Bikes, Words & Life is an entertainingly eclectic exploration of one man's introduction to, and subsequent obsession with, road cycling; from his local bunch ride all the way to the greatest cycling event of them all, the Tour de France.

Sep 1, 2013

Über den Autor

Peter has been a writer for the best part of twenty years. And a cyclist for three. Unless you count BMX as a kid. In which case he's been a cyclist, well, pretty much forever. He loves riding. He loves writing. And today he indulges in both as often as possible. His day-to-day profession is advertising. But between work and riding himself, he also writes freelance for cycling publications like Bicycling Australia and even works as the part-time marketing/communications manager for a race team in the Subaru National Road Series. He owns seven bikes, but most days can be found riding his Colnago.

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Carbon Addiction - Peter Maniaty


Bikes, words & life


Peter Maniaty

Smashwords edition


For Jim and Joan

(and Gavin, whose fault this is)

© 2013, Peter Maniaty



This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorised reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.





CHAPTER 1:Understanding Carbon Addiction

CHAPTER 2: History Lesson

CHAPTER 3: Racing

CHAPTER 4: Apres Cycling

CHAPTER 5: Dopes, Cheats and Dodgy Doctors

CHAPTER 6: The Neverending Quest for Stuff

CHAPTER 7: Whinge Whinge Whinge

CHAPTER 8: Body Parts

CHAPTER 9: We Have the Technology

CHAPTER 10: Le Tour





First things first dear reader. This is not exactly a new book.

Inspired by the polarising Englishman Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear and Sunday Times fame, a man who clearly knows how to make a quid or two, rather than original writings for your reading enjoyment, it is in fact a loosely structured collection of (mostly) previously-published ramblings from my blog,, and the splendid Antipodean cycling magazine Bicycling Australia; ramblings that will hopefully earn me a little extra cash to pay for a new deep rim wheelset, touch-screen GPS unit or perhaps even a whole bike. For as any dedicated cyclist knows, you can never have enough stuff. Unless it happens to be one of those ridiculous aero-style helmets that resemble a child’s stack hat.

One of those is, frankly, one too many.

The fact you’ve even found this needle in the digital haystacks that are online bookstores is remarkable in itself. Chapeau to you. Hopefully as you settle in for the coffee ride through the pages that follow you’ll feel it was worth the effort and may even recommend it to your cycling friends.

Now before we start, a warning. What you won’t find here are tomes of painstakingly crafted literary brilliance or Walkley Award-winning investigative journalism. Apologies if that’s what floats your carbon boat. Probably best you stop now and get back to Instagram or Candy Crush Saga to avoid yourself the frustration.

If, however, you think you might just enjoy reading an eclectic array of bite-sized observations from a decidedly middle-of-the-road middle-aged club cyclist, well you are in luck.

We’ll explore everything from technology, clothing and cycling history to the UCI WorldTour, saddle sores and, of course, that ever-present elephant in the peloton, doping.

Chances are you won’t always agree with what I have to say. That’s good. But agree or otherwise, hopefully it will make you think. And, yes, make you smile.

So let’s get started, shall we?





Cycling is like crack cocaine; you can never get enough.

- Lidcombe-Auburn Cycling Club member who shall remain nameless.


My name is Peter and I am an addict. What began innocently with a token fitness drive on a cheap flat-bar hybrid bicycle several years ago, quickly and quite unexpectedly took hold of me with a vice-like grip; one that cannot be easily loosened even to this day.

Whilst initially I tried to hide it from the outside world, I have come to understand road cycling is an all-consuming addiction that has led to some impossible-to-ignore changes in my life. Yes, it has affected my family, my friends and my health. It has also come at high financial cost. But do you know what?

I couldn’t be happier.

Carbon addiction is an insatiable and highly contagious condition with no known cure. But frankly even if there was a cure, who would want it?

To paraphrase Australian sporting doyens Roy Slaven and HG Nelson, Too much cycling is barely enough.


(Posted October 25, 2102)

So I slept through my alarm this morning. I woke up at 5:50am; 10 minutes before I was supposed to be at my ride starting point 20 minutes away. In the ensuing pre-dawn scramble to catch my bunch I forgot my arm warmers and nearly froze. I grabbed the first energy gel I could find which was the truly vomit-inducing Tropical. Worse, it was 12 months past its used-by date. Riding with maximum haste and minimum care I slammed carelessly into a gutter and punctured. I then somehow managed to slice my finger on the tyre valve and bled all over my knicks.

At this point I also noticed my front light had run out of battery, which probably explains why a tradie had hurled all manner of abuse at me moments earlier from his ute. By the time I reached the starting point my group was, not surprisingly, long gone. But do you know what? I took a deep breath and consoled myself that even a bad morning on the bike is still a good morning. And I smiled as I soloed 35km before heading off to work. At least my local kamikaze magpie didn’t bomb dive me for once.


(Posted: November 22, 2012)

As regular readers of this blog will know, I love cycling. So you may be surprised to read I’d never recommend it to a friend. Or even a stranger, for that matter.

After thinking and long and hard about my own carbon addiction recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that local gym membership is a much better option for most Australians. Or taking up jogging. Or maybe getting a personal trainer. Ocean swimming looks like a smart choice too. Or even getting a Nintendo Wii. Anything but cycling, really.

My reasons are simple.

The explosion of popularity in cycling is getting totally out of hand. If many more people start doing it, well, who knows where it will end? The days of peaceful morning rides on virgin streets will be a distant memory. Every ride will be like the Spring Cycle, an obstacle course of 8-year olds, tandems and newbies on poorly-serviced hybrids.

And mark my words. Be it compulsory registration, parking permits, or some other ridiculous money-making scheme, Governments and Councils everywhere will be implementing all kinds of new ways to generate even more revenue from us. An already-expensive pastime will become even worse.

(As a relative newcomer to the sport myself, I sometimes wonder how all the ‘original’ cyclists out there feel about this? Part of them must be very proud and vindicated. But another part must be pissed off at suddenly having to share the roads with a never-ending stream of cashed-up idiots clad in Assos or Rapha outfits that barely contain their girth.)

So, as you enjoy your next ride, be warned there is a dark lining on the silver cloud that is road cycling, my fellow riders. We need to unite, and do everything we can to promote everything else to anyone who asks us. Lest the roads be lost forever.

Cycling? Nah mate, it’s rubbish. But I hear skateboarding is awesome.


(Posted October 27, 2102)

I just had to share the following photo from a great cycling mate of mine, Gavin. This was the scene in his Grafton hotel room last night (pre-riding the annual Grafton to Inverell race). Unconfirmed reports that his wife spent the night sleeping on the floor. Oh, Gavin. What have you done?


(Posted: November 23, 2102)

I’ve heard a lot of great reasons for getting into cycling. But one of the best, and one that certainly commanded plenty of my attention several years back when I first threw my leg over a road bike, was from a workmate who proudly announced one morning after arriving looking rather flushed in the face: My wife loves me cycling – because it makes me so damned horny!

At the time I remember laughing, but also thinking: wouldn’t it just make you tired, and sore?

But I was wrong. While I’m no doctor I have since noticed more than a little truth in his comments. Yes, there’s plenty to be said for post-ride endorphins. There are also plenty of facts to back it up, from folks far more knowledgeable on health matters than I am.

Pump it up.

It’s no great revelation that cycling gets your blood pumping, and can significantly improve your vascular health as a result. This offers many benefits, one of which is often… drum roll please…boosting sex drive. In even better news for cycling guys and their partners, a study from Cornell University in New York also found that male athletes have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger. For the more mature riders in the bunch, Harvard University has also found that men aged over 50 who spend a mere three hours a week in the saddle have a 30 percent lower risk of suffering a ‘deflated tube’ in intimate moments than those who do sweet FA exercise. That said fellas, it’s advisable to make sure you have well-fitting knicks, a comfy saddle position and get out of the seat every now and then on longer rides to avoid the dreaded ‘numb nads’ syndrome.

Heightened sex drive.

Another study at the University of California looked at the sexual behaviour of two groups of middle-aged men. The first group followed a per-ordained training plan, which involved exercising for one hour, three to four days a week. The second group pretty much stayed on the sofa and watched telly. After nine months, those in the first group reported a 30 per cent increase in the frequency of sex with their partners. (Of course, this may be more to do with what was on TV – it’s hard to have sex when you’re watching the footy or re-runs of Cycling Central, of course.)

Going the distance.

The other advantage of superior cardiovascular conditioning is that it increases energy levels in other parts of your body too, so you generally take longer to wear out in all manner of pastimes. Strenuous physical activity is also reported to make you more attuned to your body and its various sensations, which according to the tantric one himself, Gordon Sumner, is the secret to true enlightenment and happiness.

So pretty clearly this means all of us cyclists are dynamos in the sack, right? Well, perhaps. But I have one final observation. Being fitter than the average human being may well boost our libido and raise our ability to perform with distinction on the horizontal trainer, but when we’re out the door at 5am every morning and in bed by 10pm, it doesn’t leave much time for that sort of thing, does it?


(Posted: November 15, 2012)

Where, or more accurately when, do you draw the line when it comes to ride start times?

6am? 5am? 4am? Come to think of it, why go to bed at all? Just roll out at 10pm and ride all night. There’s a lot less traffic to contend with in the wee hours after all (albeit more drink drivers and garbage trucks).

For me, 5:30am seems to be the natural starting time. It lets me have a ride, and a life. That said, it took me 12 months of sleep deprivation and tortured circadian rhythms to work this out. I knew things were getting a tad silly when for a while I found myself regularly going to bed earlier than my children. Just to get enough shut eye before the next morning’s two-wheeled adventure. The kids thought it was hilarious.

Of course, for those who work for a living, start time is directly connected to another set of numbers cyclists tend to be a little obsessive about: distance covered.

I sometimes dream of riding 100km before heading to the office. But working backwards from a 9am start and 1-hour commute, even at an average speed of 30km/h I’d need to be out the door by about 4am to accomplish this. I have more chance of winning Flanders.

So, either I start work an hour late and blame the traffic (technically not a lie). Or I don’t even try. For now the latter option is winning. But maybe, just maybe, one morning….


(Posted: January 17, 2013)

A couple of weeks ago I rode 30km with my eldest son, who’s 10. It was the first time he’s ever ridden his Fuji roadie on the road proper. He was a little apprehensive at first; the whole traffic thing and all. But within a minute he couldn’t stop smiling. Nor could I. Even better, just as our maiden father/son ride ended we happened upon not one, but two groups of my regular riding pals. We all headed off to a local cafe for a coffee, which completed my son’s initiation into the road cycling ranks.

It was a magic moment. Just perfect. Which got me thinking that, as a parent cyclist, surely there are few things more enjoyable in life than riding – proper riding, I mean – with your kids?

It’s not just me, though. Every weekend you’ll see mums and dads riding with children of all ages – from footpaths and roads to race tracks and trails – loving every second of the experience. The confidence it gives them. The freedom to explore new places. The closeness to nature. The camaraderie with other riders. And the time spent together without a TV, Xbox or iPad in sight. (Garmins are okay, that’s part of the experience.) It simply doesn’t get much better. Before long my other kids will be able to join us out there too, and that might just be heaven on two wheels.


(Posted: August 2, 2013)

One of the timeless beauties of the bicycle is its simplicity. Both in the way it is built and the way it is propelled. Even in an age of integration and computerisation where it’s easily possible to part with five-figure sums for a bike, you still sit on a seat and push on pedals which, via a very basic drive train, spins your rear wheel (unless you ride a Penny Farthing, of course, in which case you’re really reading the wrong blog).

Unlike a car, computer or even a home espresso machine, there’s not much to a bike. Which in my book means there’s not much excuse for not knowing how to look after the basics yourself. I don’t mean being able to pull it apart and reassemble the thing blindfolded, or perform a full bottom bracket service, mind you. Leave that to the experts. But surely every self-respecting road cyclist should be able to perform certain tasks without sending their heart rate towards Ventoux or crying off to their local bike mechanic?

Things like repairing a puncture, both with a new tube but also with a $5 note, changing a tyre without trashing your wheel rims, cleaning your chain, cranks and cassette, and replacing your own brake pads and bar tape. Should you ride tubulars, you should also possess the requisite skills to glue the buggers on so they stay on.

These things are not hard. Nor are they especially time-consuming. There are also myriad Youtube videos on these subjects, typically featuring bearded, pot smoking North American bike mechanics in baseball caps showing you exactly how it’s done in incredible detail. If you have an internet connection, there really is nothing stopping you.

The only caveat I’d put on all this is that, as I’ve learned over the last few years, we are a rather esoteric bunch. Hence the proliferation of cycling-specific tools which, whilst essential to the maintenance of your carbon steed, are of absolutely zero use anywhere else in your life. Chain whips and chain breakers spring instantly to mind, but there are many others. For whilst cycling is about the bike, it’s also about storage. The more the better.

The good news, of course, is none of the tools we need to keep our beloved wheels rolling smoothly are overly expensive, especially considering the small fortune we fork out to acquire our bikes and assorted paraphernalia in the first place.

So, if you can do all these things, chapeau to you sir or madam. You already know the simple, empowering pleasure of fixing your own problems, the joy of self-sufficiency. If you can’t, well, hurry up and learn. Too embarrassed to ask? Google is your best friend.


(Posted July 15, 2013)

Whilst reading the Velominati’s new book, The Rules, the realisation came to pass that I had strayed from The Path. However amidst my naive folly, I have also come to understand the first step to redemption lies in the confessing of one’s past mistakes. So here goes:

1) I have worn my sunglasses straps inside my helmet straps on occasion.

2) In the early months of my carbon addiction when I didn’t know any better, I wore team kit, specifically, Garmin.

3) I have, at times, stayed in bed when it was raining, failing to adhere to Rule #5 and for a short time I also ran triple chain rings – what was I thinking?

4) I have ridden with a saddle bag (EPMS) on occasion but will never again use them, rather I will seek to sell them for a modest profit on eBay.

5) I drink coffee other than espresso and macchiato.

6) On several occasions I have been known to turn my bike upside down on the roadside whilst repairing punctures.

7) I regularly take food on training rides of under 4 hours i.e. pretty much all my rides.

8) Until quite recently I knowingly left the valve caps on my tubes.

9) I have facial hair.

10) Due to an especially healthy fear of melanoma (been there, done that) and a liberal use of sunscreen, I do not sport awesome tan lines on my arms or legs.

And please don’t strike me down with a high-speed front wheel puncture for this one, but…

11) As much as I am obsessed with the way of the bike, I still – and will always – put family first. For mine, Rule #11 is just plain wrong.


(Posted: November 9, 2012)

We may get a bad rap from motorists sometimes. But cyclists really are the good Samaritans of the roadways. Helping a stranger on the side of the road with a puncture. Sharing an energy gel or bidon with someone who’s on the brink of bonking. Lending a spare tube or CO2 cartridge even if it’s your only one and you’re still 43.7km from home. It’s just something we do.

Now apart from the fact we’re (mostly) decent people and it would take a bona fide mongrel to roll past a fellow roller in their moment of need, I also see it very much as an investment in ride karma. For just as your chain-rings will continue to turn, so will your luck. One day you’ll be the one stuck on the nature strip with an upturned frame, grease-covered knuckles and a lacerated tube wondering how the $#@% you’re going to get home without calling a maxi taxi.

Of course, none of this altruism will ever grace the pages or screens of the mainstream media. It’s far more interesting for them to

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