Monday, March 14, 2011

Mertolink cyclist killer counselled “in line with company policy”

-- Being a bus operator at NZ Bus is a more rewarding and fulfilling career than most

Just ask Aucklander Damien Buckley, who was a passenger on Metrolink’s 274 service, as it was driven on the wrong side of the road at a cyclist on Mt Eden Rd. "I yelled, 'what are you doing?' really loud but [the driver] didn't look back at me; he was too busy trying to kill the guy," Buckley said.

You, too, can enjoy the rewards of a fulfilling career at Metrolink. Become a Bus Operator.

Being a bus operator at NZ Bus is a more rewarding and fulfilling career than most.

Bus operators have important roles in our business. Once you leave the depot, you are in sole charge of your day and the bus. You are also the day-to-day face of NZ Bus in our communities.

Your interaction with our customers means you can be social, helpful and understanding - every moment of every day is an opportunity to make a positive difference.

Becoming a bus operator with NZ Bus gives you the opportunity to develop professionally as we provide full training.

And here’s what Metrolink looks for:

What we look for

Our bus operators are everyday people. They enjoy working with our customers, love to drive and at the end of the day, take pride in knowing they have done a great job.

Being a great bus operator is about being able to communicate clearly in English (both written and oral), dealing confidently and accurately with money and caring about keeping people safe.

Fully appreciating the gravity of his driver’s actions and the embarrassing contradiction of Metrolink’s most preferred driver traits, company general manager Jon Calder acted swiftly, counselling the driver “in line with company policy”.

What a relief for Metrolink customers, cyclists, and road users.

Yes indeed. Like the special breed of military enthusiasts who gravitate to commercial building rooftops to wile away time training the telescopic sights of their sniper rifles on passing pedestrians, swift counselling puts them back on the straight and narrow, permanently stifling the powerful urge to kill.

But maybe we should give Metrolink’s "company policy" counselling more credit.

Perhaps it involves instant dismissal.

Speaking of cyclist killers, repeat drunk-driving grandmother Alison Mary Downer, who ran down and killed popular schoolteacher and new dad Frank van Kampen, has been freed from prison after serving just 12 months.

No doubt adding to her misery and continued torment is the provision that forbids her entry to two shopping centres - the location of which has been withheld - "unless for the purposes of attending rehabilitative treatment, counselling, Quaker meetings or medical appointments".

No, she wouldn’t want to miss a Quaker meeting and the chance to surround herself with people testifying to their faith in their actions and the way they live their lives

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blind to giveway rules

-- Looking, but not seeing

Life is a potpourri of chance and opportunity.

Sometimes you come up smelling like roses and other times like steaming turd. Whichever the case, the winners are those who suck it up and enthusiastically saturate their olfactory organs with life’s sweet scents and steamy miasma.

Recently, I was presented with a stark illumination of this hackneyed wisdom, when a car operated by a driver who had failed to giveway suddenly appeared in front of my handlebars.

Before I could even conjure the words, steamy miasma, my bicycle, immediately followed by my face and shoulder, impacted the driver’s car door and window, and I was bounced backwards to the ground, where I writhed to the twisted rhythm of involuntary yowling.

There are better ways to stop. The head-stem of my carbon frame snapped in a style similar to the AC joint in my shoulder. My extremes pulsated with pain.

As kind passers-by tended my twisted form and hazy disbelief became aching reality, I found comfort in the generous care administered by strangers (and, later, ambulance staff) but also irritated overhearing an observer explaining: “He hit the car.” I really hated that and the possibility that those words could be construed to mean I was at fault. Sure, I hit the car, but only because Mr Blind Man was behind the wheel.

The other thought occurring to me as I wrestled the asphalt was, how did the driver not see me? How does anyone not see a pulsating 900-lumen nitelight (which on this occasion was working just fine)?

Turns out you can look, but not see. And not seeing is an excuse popular with errant motorists.

Anyway, now I am under the tender care of ACC and my insurer AA has stumped up for a new bicycle (not that I’m able to ride it just now).

The sad irony is that I was on a ‘recovery’ ride following the first day of a training programme.

Not wanting to fall too far behind schedule while my shoulder heals I’ve had to dust off the wind trainer. And what fun it is dry humping the steel mule, unable to hold the handlebars and shaking my fist at God for the pain in my taint.

No hands is fine when you’re rummaging through a musette, but try it for an hour-or-so on a stationary trainer. Torture.

But, like I said, you’ve got to suck it up and find any traces of sweetness.

So, in this spirit, I’m pleased to share with you the rising excitement dispersing my miasmic mist.

Pictured below, the must-have for the recovering one-armed wind-training cyclist prone to taint pain. Called The Leaner™ it relieves taint pressure by allowing the operator to rest their good arm (your bad arm will likely be in a sling) on the ‘cross-bar’. You sort of ride in the same way you lean on the bar after work on a Friday.

So simple, yet so effective. You will be amazed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The stain of sporting superstardom

-- It’s not just Keith Quinn who’s left grabbing for tissues

Who can forget commentator Keith Quinn’s orgasmic gasping at the sight of rugby great Jonah Lomu stomping all over England’s weedy fullback Mike Catt to score one of four tries in the semi-final of the 1995 World Cup.

Just as colliding rugby players elicit involuntary expressions of lusty joy from rugby fans, the feats of professional cyclists can provoke a certain level of sporting arousal that sends the amateur cyclist diving for crotchal cover.

Naturally, during the month of July, when the glory of professional bicycle suffering reaches its zenith, somewhere in the French Alps, amateur cyclists everywhere experience firsthand what Keith Quinn couldn’t contain during that fateful 10 seconds of live television broadcast.

The scenario has been beautifully captured in song fashion. And while it is the song writer's fraught relationship with women stirring his involuntary troubles, the end result is the same for dysfunctional sporting adulation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fashionably out of date

-- Blogging off-season

No one, not even professional cyclists, rides the whole year round.

After all, you can’t race a season without a restful off-season. So it makes sense that someone who blogs on cycling matters must also take time away from the keyboard to let the scabs heal and rejuvenate.

However, further blunting blogging tendencies is the continuing feast of televised sport.

It started with the popular pay TV channel broadcasting Spring Classics highlights, often at times differing to those advertised; now the football World Cup is upon us; that big bicycle race in France starts quite soon; and The All Blacks have commenced falsifying expectations for next year's Rugby World Cup.

But it’s not just television that captures my attention. There’s internet porn and, just as arresting, email news of an attack dog and its deceitful owners menacing cyclists on the very route I ride three mornings a week.

The email below, from Greg Cross, was contained in a recent Counties Manukau Cycling Club news bulletin.

From:Greg Cross

Subject: Dangerous Pit Bull at Point England

To all my cycling mates

On Wednesday lunchtime my buddy Mark and I were attacked by a Pit Bull on Dunkirk Road out at Point England (the road by the park that takes you out to Panmure). The dog smashed into our bikes in full attack mode taking us both down resulting in a broken collar bone for Mark and lots of road rash and a broken bike for me.

The owner of the dog gave us a false name, address and phone number to avoid a visit from police and animal control. The people with the dog (who live in walking distance to the park) were a Maori male adult and 2 Maori women with a baby in a stroller.

The Pit Bull was tan in colour is extremely aggressive and is still out there. Please be careful on this road and if you see this dangerous dog and its owner please contact Animal Control immediately at 09 360 0750 or the Police

Please pass this message on to all your friends who cycle this route as I would hate to see this happen to anyone else.

Naturally, I hastily despatched a forwarded email to my cycling chums. Forewarned is forearmed, is it not? But then how does a cyclist prepare for an attack dog ambush?

I figure the scenario attaches risks similar to those posed by drunk drivers. You know they’re out there, but hope you don’t cross paths. But in the event you do, you hope the drunk driver hasn't confused the left hand side of the road with the right, or has driven off the road into a lamp post well before you meet.

Not being a cyclist who entertains avoidable risks, I consulted the popular search engine to explore attack dog preparedness.

Turns out there's a galaxy of options, and I refer you to this website for its fantastic product choices – from the animal loving pacifistic ultra sonic dog repeller, known as the Dog Chaser, to more combative mechanisms, such as stun batons (800,000 volts).

Buried in this impressive online product catalogue is dog repellent, but in my mind I’d much rather go for bear repellent – it possesses the same active ingredient: ultra hot pepper spray, but packs a much bigger spray range, which is important for people like me who have a poor aim.

Though, I must say meat loaf enthusiast and experienced user Brent Farwick puts forward a strong case for the dog repellent.

Dear TBO,

I ride a bicycle by choice. Unfortunately, the areas I usually ride through have an unusual number of large, aggressive, roaming dogs. The adrenaline rush I get from confronting and successfully intimidating these large animals is a bit much for a 54 year old guy. It just ruins my day. I've been concerned that sooner, or later, I would get mauled.

So I bought some muzzle spray from you. Today, on my ride home from a nice meatloaf dinner, a large black cur who never fails to charge me developed a sudden interest in running on 3 paws, while using his remaining paw to frantically swipe at his eye.

That wasn't good enough, so he quickly buried the side of his face in the dirt at the edge of the road. That didn't cut it, so it was a quick 3-legged dash/rub-rub into the yard to do some serious "face-sledding" on the grass.

The total delay from contact with that little pepper stream, to complete loss of interest in bicycles must have been on the order of 1/4 to 1/2 a second.

Thank You Sincerely for helping me avoid indigestion, as the meatloaf was truly delicious.

Thanks Again, Brent Farwick

Ride safe.

Yours in delicious meat loaf,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Democratising cycling performance enhancement

-- Science will save you money

Economic uncertainty tends to bring out creative saving behaviour in everyone.

A little bit here, a little bit there – it all adds up to provide a safety cushion should things get really bad and you’ve got nothing useful to barter.

In this regard, food is a category ripe with potential savings available to the main household shopper. For example, forgoing filet mignon for chuck steak might require a few extra chews, but it won’t compromise nutritional value and yet delivers significant savings.

We’ve taken things a little further in our house.

Where once our meat patties were lovingly rendered from assorted offal and chicken giblets, these days we’ve captured fantastic savings, without comprising nutritional value, or great taste, with Fancy Feast Royale (just be sure to add a bit of cornflour and egg, to beef up your patties).

And this brings me to a significant column item on the great cycling spreadsheet – supplements.

To go without fattens the wallet, that’s for sure. But at what price? Just what is the real cost of being damned to the wrong end of an uneven playing field, languishing in sporting malnourishment and the torture of a dry mouth oxygenated with god-awful cat food burps?

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, it turns out that the average cyclist can have their nutrition and eat it, too. While the rest of the peleton is whooping it up on fancy adaptogens and fumbling with sticky over-priced gel sachets, the cost conscious cyclist should in no way be disadvantaged by this showy consumption.

With a little bit of thought and preparation, science-based performance enhancement is only a few ingredients and a blender away.

It’s time sporting performance enhancement was democratised.

So, I bring you my science-based high performance smoothie.

Again, I stress, unlike most of the supplements in your pantry, all ingredients are scientifically proven to enhance health and general performance.

Set-up blender and add:

- One banana (rich in vitamins and minerals)

- One medium sized beetroot, boiled till soft (nitrates contained in beetroot boost stamina by reducing the oxygen cost of exercise)

- One tablespoon of pure virgin olive oil (lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and even Alzheimer's disease – which is especially useful for those longer rides when you can’t rightly remember how to get home)

- And a teaspoon of cod liver oil (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory)

Blend for 60 seconds, adding half a bottle of Heineken (fixes bonking).

The taste won’t be much, but it’ll work better than anything else you’re taking.

What’s more, it’ll get rid of that nasty cat food after taste.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saddling up digital connections

-- Always go for the big coconut

The Great Googling Machine and digital sociality have brought us all closer together.

But even if the glue that bonds our 21st Century connectedness is as weak as motivations for connecting are shallow (“pleasee follow me, I follow back”) that shouldn’t distract from rich rewards that flow when good connections are made.

Which brings me to my brief moment of richly rewarded connectedness.

Recently my Specialized Toupe saddle broke. The actual saddle bit split right down the middle. Sure, I can crush coconuts between my butt cheeks, but there’s nothing about my bike style that is unduly seat taxing.

More concerned about the other bearded nut variety, I phoned the retailer and enquired about the seat warranty. Bad luck – too late for the one-year warranty, I’d have to buy a new seat.

Well, it certainly wasn’t going to be a Specialized saddle if acceptable life expectancy was just two years. What say you, retailer?

Sorry, can’t help you there.

So, I queried, am I right assuming that Specialized manufactures its saddles to last just one-to-two years, in which case I should not be surprised by my experience and get over it? Or does Specialized make a better, longer lasting saddle than my experience suggests?

These aren’t questions for which you can expect answers from the bicycling retail coalface.

But was I looking for answers in the right place?

On occasions like this, when the people most qualified to help turn a blind ear, the Great Googling Machine is your best friend. I got to work and eventually located Specialized founder and chairman Mike Sinyard. Would he help, I wondered?

Unlikely, I thought. What CEO of a major corporate has time to listen and respond to concerns of individual customers, particularly when they’re located in a geography that, good year or bad year, is just a sales rounding error on the company spreadsheet.

How wrong I was. With a bit more time on the Googling Machine I located the email address of the man himself and explained my position.

In just two hours I received a response – Mike Sinyard had forwarded my email to his Australasian manager, who called the retailer, arranged a replacement saddle, and emailed me to say that it was ready for pickup.

Nice. Hopefully this one lasts longer.

When bike trouble brews, always go for the big coconut.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sky TV back in the saddle

-- From cycling famine to feast

At the end of last year's Tour de France I switched off Sky.

Bastards made me orienteer my way to a nondescript Mt Wellington office, where I had to deposit the decoder.

No point in gorging myself on magic moments in NRL league and irritating Sky channel promotions, I figured.

How sad is that irony? Pay for access to a network that turns out to be more saturated with advertising than free-to- air TV.

The joys of a monopoly.

Anyway, it was with surprise and pleasure to discover Sky TV's 2010 progamming plans for the upcoming European bicycle racing season.

Check it out on Ridestrong

Maybe those ads aren't so intolerable after all....