vir non camelus est.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Black Fish Cycling at the 2013 Tour Down Under: a view from the sidelines

Black Fish Cycling has much in common with Team Katusha:

1. Both teams have enjoyed brief flirtations with Robbie McEwen

2. Both teams endure Soviet-style training facilities

3. Both have a lot of love for the great Vladimir "Shag Pile" Karpets

But most importantly,

4. Both have been excluded from UCI World Tour status in 2013 due to concerns about their drug policies.

And it is for this reason that the mighty Black Fish elite quintet was ineligible to compete as professionals at this year's TDU.

But never fear, dear reader, your heroes were still an integral part of the TDU, as the following pictorial essay will demonstrate:

As the excitement built in the Tour Village in the lead-up to Stage 1, countless other members of the professional peloton visited the Black Fish trade display to lend moral support:

Australian champion Bernard "Turbo" Tomic consoled himself after his loss to Roger Federer by impersonating Luke Durbridge in order to get close to Finola "Fionala" Dwyer

Simon Clarke couldn't resist an inquisitive caress of BF00's  "chamois"

Bobridge schooling Weeks in the art of fasting

Jens Voigt's unoriginal jokes about Edwards resembling Schleck drew a harsh response from Weeks

Jens: "Shut up legs"
BF00: "That's not my leg"

World Champion Phil Gilbert uses an overly-laden tourist as a screen to avoid the creepy stalker stare of Edwards

Even at the start line for Stage 1, as BF00 tearfully looked at the blank Black Fish column on the sign-in board and hurled invective at a clearly unimpressed Mike Turtur, other pro riders continued to offer support to the embattled local team:

Edwards' attempt to join the race in an ill-fitting Radioshack jersey and comedy dark glasses was short-lived. But cycling's pervasive omerta has prevented the truth about Andy Schleck's sickening Nancy Kerrigan-style leg injuries at the hands of "Tonya" Edwards from being reported as the real reason behind his terrible performance in the TDU.

Stuey remembers that he owes BF00 a headbutt from last year... BF00 tries to get one in early.

"Come with me if you want to live"

Proximity to Greipel's calves begins to draw BF00's lips into a gravitational vortex
Media tart Gilbert attempts to photobomb BF00

Gerrans was distracted by the presence of the Black Fish road captain

Former Minister for Sport, Kate Ellis, desperately tries to avoid the gaze of the crazed blogger who still holds the record for longest email about umpiring standards at MARS Stadium ever sent to a sitting member of parliament

BF00 fails spectacularly at trying to pretend that he is part of the peloton.
Tragic, really.

Stage 3 began in leafy cosmopolitan Unley, where the previous night the elite Black Fish squad had dined in luxurious circumstances while the mob were forced to mill around outside, sustained only by the hors d'oeuvres of pitiful street vendors and plastic cups of crisp sauvignon blanc. Soon, anger at the UCI's exclusion of the Black Fish began to build. Thousands of oppressed Hyde Park folk, no longer able to bear life's inequities, began to pour out of 'Carla Zampatti' and 'Steven ter Horst Chocolatier' to vent their rage. Blind in their fury, the mob began to chant at UCI President Pat McQuaid in awkward Year 10 Walford school French, oblivious to his Irishness:

"Que voulons-nous? 
Les Poissons Noirs dans le peloton professionnel!
Quand voulons-nous? 

In a surprise twist, German sprinting ace Andre Greipel, who dropped out of French classes after the 8th grade, believed that the lusty crowd was baying for him to strike a sexy pose:

Fortunately, this was enough to settle the crowd. But media interest in the Black Fish story, already high as a result of the feature in the renowned Eastern Courier, continued to grow:

Tomalaris finally snares the big interview. Winfrey reported to be devastated.

Former BF Basketball statistical good-luck charm and current support vehicle driver, Downing, fields calls from international media agencies

In a rare post-mortem media appearance, "Big Kev" McQuay joins Dwyer and Whittle atop the Corkscrew in order to declare "I'm excited" about the Black Fish.
Whittle forced to ride home with 6kg of washing powder in jersey pocket.

Sadly, McQuaid stood firm and the Black Fish were unable to compete as professionals in this year's tour. But fans were thrilled when the squad elected to ride with the common man in the Bupa Challenge Tour before Stage 4 of the TDU. A full report of this great day for cycling fans will follow. But for now, the Fish must begin to place their professional hopes in the next generation:

Will "Seiberg" Edwards achieves his first KOM

Monday, January 28, 2013

BF07 Meets the World Champion

It was a special moment earlier this week when the legendary Black Fish foundation member took time out from his busy training schedule to pose for a photograph with long-time fan, world road race champion Philippe Gilbert:

But in a shocking twist, our investigative reporters have discovered evidence that these two great riders have met on at least one occasion in the past. Perhaps it will take a Truth & Reconciliation Commission before the true story is revealed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Black Fish Dominate "Ride Like Crazy"

Having made their Ride Like Crazy debut in 2012, the Fish were keen to make a big impression in this year's ride. In perfect conditions, and with pockets bulging with the currency strategically witheld from the organizers as part of the Angela Merkel-inspired Black Fish Austerity Campaign, squad members Dwyer, Edwards, Weeks and Whittle scythed through the peloton.

Quads development on track for TDU

Indeed, so fast were the Fish that it was as though they rode 17km less than everyone else that day.

And while some valuable fine-tuning of the team time-trial train was achieved on the road to Woodside, the footage below demonstrates that even in the suburban badlands of Norwood the Black Fish are cycling with power and elegance. Bring on the TDU!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Great Moments in Black Fish History - Part II

In this, the second installment of an infrequent series aimed at Black Fish historians, we wish to pre-empt anything former BF supporter Lance Armstrong might say to BF nemesis Oprah Winfrey tomorrow and unequivocally declare that at no time has any Black Fish athlete used, ingested, inhaled, injected or purchased any form of banned substance.

The Arabic script roughly translates as "Pulmonary Function Laboratory"

"My friend, you wish to buy special beans? You grow your own EPO tree!"

Black Fish Training Intensifies

With only days to go until the 2013 Tour Down Under, the Black Fish roster for the big event has been finalised. GC contender Sam Whittle will be ably supported by four super-domestiques. The combination of the climbing prowess of Sam "Schleckwards" Edwards, the flatlands power of newly-svelte Richard "Lambert-Eaton" Weeks, the all-round ability of Finola "Queen Fionala" Dwyer, and the freakish physiology of Alex "Jeanne Triplepeaks" Rodgers will undoubtedly place the team in a position to challenge for victory.

It is hardly surprising, then, that the team has spent all of 2013 doing little but training.

And the results have been highly impressive. The team now has a combined body fat that is lower than the captain's head and neck fat mass in this 'before' photo:

But the most remarkable training regimen has been that embraced by Triplepeaks Rodgers. Having spent most of the off-season cleverly avoiding this...

...he finally exploded into action this week by pulling off his signature ride:

The much-feared "Triple Peaks". 

Here is an artist's rendition of Rodgers as he crested each of these terrible peaks:

The Lofty-Greenhill-Norton treble is not for the faint-hearted, particularly in the white heat of an Adelaide January Wednesday afternoon. But, as expected, Rodgers emerged from the ordeal as a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis: sleek, beautiful, awe-inspiring. And no longer in need of this sort of sustenance:

Ok, that last bit might not be true. Intra-ride snacks are to Triplepeaks as extra erythrocytes are to US Postal.

Anyway, he's now in tip-top shape and ready to tackle the feared Col du Novotel.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The "Eastern Courier Effect"

While we at BF headquarters assume that most humans have set as their homepage, it is interesting to see the spike in page views that occurred as a result of the Black Fish feature in the January 9 edition of that giant of publishing, the Eastern Courier:

It would be safe to assume that the y-axis scale is "x10^6 page views"

Although we have now returned to our baseline rate of page views, we know the world remains hungry for Black Fish news, especially in the lead-up to the 2013 Tour Down Under. No doubt Oprah will be hoping (in vain, presumably) for a similar spike when she interviews disgraced former Black Fish supporter Lance Armstrong later this week. But as she well knows, it's not news until it appears in the Eastern Courier.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Black Fish in the media

2012 was a difficult year for cycling.

Fortunately, a new year brings with it the promise of renewal. Already, the sweet scent of hope is beginning to replace the stench of scandal that has plagued the cycling fan's metaphorical nostrils for so long.

And as the excitement builds for the first UCI World Tour event of 2013, the world cycling body has sought out the mighty Black Fish Cycling squad to help promote clean cycling. Blessed by record-low haematocrits, mid-range VO2max and unimpressive power output graphs, the Black Fish represent the future of the UCI's push for a drug-free peloton. Indeed, until the time comes that the laboratory in Lausanne develops a test for the potent combination of Barossa shiraz and paracetamol, Black Fish fans need never fear a doping scandal.

It is no surprise, then, that the UCI, WADA and the TDU organizers sought out the Black Fish for a media blitz in the lead-up to this magnificent event, beginning with the renowned Eastern Courier. The article is reproduced in full below, or may be viewed online here.

It is believed that the next feature article, rumoured to be in the New York Times, will require BF QOM Finola Dwyer to use the original spelling of her name rather than the elaborate nom de Courier that she adopted for this feature.

There has been no comment yet from the Armstrong camp, although sources close to the disgraced former champion suggest that he is devastated to have lost the support of the Black Fish.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

La Montée en Enfer

Black Fish stalwarts Edwards and Weeks show off their crisp early-season form, dangerously low bodyfat and rippling gastrocnemii as they commence the Fox Creek climb

Loyal readers will have noticed the relative paucity of posts in recent months. Of course, there can only be one explanation - the mighty Black Fish have spent the entire off-season deep within the pain cave, in preparation for an unparalleled 2013 campaign. Media interest is already building*, and the BF fan base can barely wait to see their heroes back on the road. Expect more excitement on the blog this year, too (if we can convince Stuey O'Grady to become the full-time club mascot).

Onwards, mighty Black Fish!

(*more on this to follow in coming posts)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black Fish at the 2012 TDU: a pictorial essay

"Pro-Cycling Addiction Disorder" has many diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V, allowing psychiatrists considerable flexibility in making the diagnosis (according to prevailing beach-house-repayment conditions. Incidentally, it is little-known outside of the psychiatry inner sanctum that the entire DSM is a construct aimed at promoting beach-house ownership among psychiatrists. This may explain why Dicky keeps offering to treat my "Reverse Koro", but I digress).

The sine qua non of PCAD, however, is a compulsion to muscle one's way to a prime position at the start line of every stage of a pro-tour race and take a photograph to prove it.

Cycling: greatest sport on Earth
Psychiatric diagnoses aside, it is my abiding hope that these photographs serve as a fitting memorial to my love of the sport when I succumb to the aggressive skin cancers that simultaneously formed during the long hours I spent securing my position at the start line of every stage.

The 2012 Tour Down Under faced a number of challenges: no Lance, no Cadel, no Contador, no Schlecks. No Mike "Go Panthers" Rann. Rolling hills dotted with clenbuterol-intoxicated cows. Adverse publicity from tragic Fat Cat-impersonator and owner of the worst pun in the Australian Business Register, Ralf "Life is a Cabernet" Hadzic.

But against the odds, this year proved to be perhaps the greatest TDU ever. Not only were the Black Fish at their fittest ever, resplendent in their new race kit, but the race itself was in the balance until the final few laps of Stage 6, and Australia's second-favourite cycling team, the Black Fish feeder squad GreenEDGE, were able to win the GC and set themselves up for an incredibly exciting year on the Pro Tour.

Above all, the weight of expectation fell most heavily upon the broad shoulders of the mighty Black Fish. Who could forget their heroic exploits in the 2010 TDU where, on the sector from Milang to Finniss that became no longer a bike ride but instead an apocalyptic scene that was equal parts La Divina Comedia and one of Cormac McCarthy's nightmares, the Fish prevailed where most failed, powered only by a Snickers bar and an enormous (and fortunately metaphorical) team set of cojones.

Alessandro "Pinky Tuscadero" Petacchi:
snubbed by the Black Fish
Or indeed the 2011 TDU, where the Fish were so confident that they voluntarily gave the peloton a 30-minute head start, and then caught up with such rapidity that they were soon involved in rear-end collisions with cars.

So it was little surprise that so many members of the professional peloton slipped away from their team managers in order to speak with BF00 about the possibility of riding in the black, white and red in 2013.

Sprinting legend Alessandro Petacchi was the first to make an approach. Although disoriented by the bling-induced blindness, I still had the presence of mind to mutter "Troppo grasso. Troppo lento. Troppa rosa". Sorry, Sandy.

Andre kindly, but fraudulently, completes 
the set of autographs on my 
commemorative "The Princess Bride" poster

Widely regarded as the funniest man in the peloton, German sprinter Andre Greipel was quick to offer his services to the Fish - indeed he grabbed a contract out of my hand and began signing it without even bothering to say hello. I was forced to whip it out of his hands, however. Despite a magnificent TDU, with several stage wins, Greipel is simply not Black Fish material.

First, we already have a hulking giant with rippling thigh muscles (see comparison below).

Second, his absurd Powerbalance wristband.

And finally, his bizarre obsession with the movie "The Piano", which has led him to tattoo "Anna Paquin" on his left forearm. I will spare our readers the graphic detail of where he has tattooed "Harvey Keitel" (or the revelation that it awkwardly contracts to "Heil" in cold weather).

And so the procession of pro riders continued, each hoping against hope to be able to leave their sorry little European teams for the majesty of Thursday night Dicky Spin, Sunday morning Lofty, and random Tuesday night cobblestone-pilfering. And each one, rejected, hobbling sadly back to their 'carbon' bikes. No BF00 aluminium super-heavy beast for you, my friends.

Jens Voigt was rejected when it became apparent that he is not actually Angelina Jolie's father.
He also demonstrated an alarming capacity for standing between the camera and the podium girls.
Takashi Miyazawa: " これらの強大なは、ゴジラのような脚を持っている私をファック!  "

Immense talent but rejected on the grounds of stupid sunglasses and name that rhymes with  'arse'

Kohler foolishly chose to tattoo a kangaroo and not a fish inside his boomerang

While Geraint Thomas has the physique (and pastiness) to be a Black Fish domestique,
his unpronounceable first name counts against him. And his lack of ticker.
Here, he is sobbing after his rejection by BF cycling.

GC winner and all-round champ, Simon Gerrans, wishes his jersey was a little tighter. 
And his cranium a little squarer.

"I'm warning you for the last time, give me back my fucking Paris-Roubaix pieces,
or I will fucking nut you like that fucker in the Fat Cat suit!"

Peter "you can never have too many rubber wristbands or
moustache hairs" Kogoy implores Turbo Durbo to sign with the Fish

Sorry, Marcel "Cameron Ling" Sieberg: no rangas

Oscar "The Cat" Freire: "Por favor, Pescado Negro, que me transporte para usted.
Estoy harto de esos rusos de mierda y su puta sopa de repollo. Es jodido."
Sorry "Cat", but I won't sign anyone who steals Clive Lloyd's nickname. Or even a lesser version of it.

So it was that the Black Fish retained their elite roster of five for the big day, supplemented by two outstanding domestiques from Queensland-based Team Vertullo.

Chris stands next to the official winner of the 
TDU 'sourest facial expression' award for 2012
 The stage was nominally 138km, but thanks to Weeks' 'shortcut' from the House o' Pain to the start line, the total distance covered for the day blew out to over 160km. Still, a mere trifle for athletes of this calibre.

Brushing past the likes of Eddie Merckx and Ironman Abbott, the Fish took their place at the start line, stopping only briefly for Dwyer to continue her pre-race tradition of riding over a bed of nails.

Grinning Fish encourage sour-man to new heights of sourness

Fin attempts to unload her nail-studded tyres by leaning awkwardly

Hey, Marcel Seiberg, I told you we don't want you on our team

Edwards' tenure as official team photographer was short-lived

The entire 8000-strong peloton looked resplendent in their red jerseys, although the organisers repeated their bizarre decision from 2010 in which they changed the sizes from 'race-fit' to 'New Romantic-fit'. For fans of puffy sleeves, this was a great moment. For the rest of us, it was a matter of attempting to endure the parachute qualities of this absurd garment.

Incredibly, the ride itself was almost completely incident-free. Either that, or the noise from Chris' rear wheel hub was so loud that it blocked out all other memories from the day.

Perhaps the most disturbing incident during the day was our official warning from the race commissaires regarding our failure to comply with the strict rules for team names.

Apparently it is an official requirement that all team names in the community challenge must contain at least one awkward cycling-related pun. 'Black Fish Cycling' - a name revered in cycling circles worldwide - simply didn't make the grade, despite the organisers' attempt to add some humour by printing the name as 'Black FishCycling'. Still not funny.

Indeed the array of jokey team names was most unsettling. Worst, perhaps, was 'New RAH', which (as most will know) has always been a joke.

The closest any pun came to raising a
chuckle was 'Team Milfram'. Super-domestique Weeks was in fact seen to audibly laugh - not surprising given that the pun includes his two favourite things: the pale blue milky goodness of Milram, and MILFs (although not to the extent that his brother-in-law appreciates a good GILF. Isn't that right, Helen Edwards?).

The award for 'least ironic team pun name' was given to the girls from 'Team Wolf' who managed to combine the aesthetics of a bearded Jason Bateman with the speed of Michael J Fox.

Anyway, it took only some trademark Black Fish charm and a few autographs to assuage the commissaires, and we were on our way again, dignity intact.

From there, only one tragedy was to befall the Black Fish. In a desperate, but ultimately misguided, attempt to preserve his glycogen stores, team stalwart Alex Rodgers began a force-feeding programme that even the French would disallow at a goose farm. By the end of the stage Alex had managed to avoid bonking, but had undergone an extraordinary Kevin Federlinesque transformation from svelte athlete to lumbering reality-show contestant. We wish him well on his journey with Ajay Rochester and the rest of the gang over the next few months, and in his class-action suit against the manufacturers of Cadel's Mountain Mix.

"Must. Eat. More. Cadel. Bars. Energy....fading...."

The ride itself was, of course, no problem at all for the Fish. On the flat, the BF train was at its finest ever, and the hills presented no obstacle.

Edwards scoffs at the first KOM, while Weeks checks the live odds on a Black Fish stage victory

"I wish Richard would stop checking the fucking odds and just ride"

"I wonder if that guy would notice if I stole his energy gels?"

Even the fabled Mengler's Hill, a category 2 climb that proved to be the downfall for Andre Greipel's GC aspirations later in the day, was but a minor hurdle for a rampant Fish squad who, having emptied their bidons and consumed enough gels to cause dangerous hyperglycaemia and caffeine levels that would make even Alex Watson fibrillate, reached the summit with barely a gastrocnemius fibre out of place.

Sadly for brave polio-boy, the effort to finish
led to irreversible brain damage

Soon enough, the mighty Black Fish crossed the finish line, having created a lead-out train that would have brought a tear to Mark Renshaw's eye.

And so it was over for another year. All that was left was to re-hydrate and watch disappointed non-Fish Oscar Freire lead a pathetically-exhausted professional peloton to the line, narrowly avoiding one of Tanunda's finest exponents of the art of driving the wrong way up a closed road. Sorry Oscar, an impressive effort, but still not enough for the Black Fish.
Triumphant Fish ignore Edwards' distressing seizures

Impossibly, Rodgers' pockets were still stuffed with food

Little did the mighty Fish know, however, that Mengler's was a mere pimple compared to the hors categorie Col du Novotel which awaited them immediately before their first restorative beverage.

Little has been written about this terrifying mountain. And while my recollections are dimmed by the cerebral hypoxia that it induced, it would be no exaggeration to say that at some points the gradient was in excess of 85%. On and on it went, steep climbs interspersed with false flats, and blind corners leading to more vertical ascents. Possibly the perfect location for a hill-top stage finish that would put Alpe d'Huez to shame. A veritable Sufferfest transformed from mere pixels to the horrifying reality of baking sun and hard, unyielding bitumen.

But can a little HC climb after 160km of hard riding prevent the Fish from reaching their stated goal? Certainly not:

Brave attempt at a smile by post-ictal Edwards
Alex looking forward to dinner


This one's for the ladies