Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 11, 2012

Friday, 6th April 2012 – Good Friday & the World Indoor Cycling is witnessed!

This is the beginning of the Christian festival of Easter, and for most of my readers it probably needs little explanation, although probably for a large part of the ‘Australian’ population [excluding other cultures and/or religious beliefs] it has become little more than an extended holiday weekend. So be it, and I guess in many ways as things turned out, that was probably the way I treated it this year.  For a start, I had such a slow start to the morning, that I decided not to bother to attend the Good Friday ecumenical service on the Village Green [in fact, the ‘organisers’ didn’t get around to setting up the Marquee this time, so it was held in the Memorial Hall – that would have been  little crowded!]. I tuned into our radio station, wrongly assuming that the service would be broadcast as in the past, but would discover later, that while 3NRG had been prepared to take the broadcast, the organisers of the occasion did not get back to us, or request we do so!! Of course, I would have known that if I’d been at last night’s meeting, but was a little surprised myself that I’d not chased the matter up personally – just something that I had overlooked following up on!!

Anyway, over the weekend, an interesting little article was written in one of the newspapers, as part of  that paper’s Easter ‘message, and I thought it worth repeating here for my readers. Written by Darryl Passmore and entitled ‘We believe, just mistrust church’, it read as follows.

“Most Australians believe in the Easter miracle despite waning interest in organised religion, new research reveals. The nationwide study shows eight out of 10 people accept that Jesus died on the cross and 52 per cent believe that he rose from the dead. ‘From the marketing world and certain areas of the media, you’d get a sense that Christianity is finished and it [Easter] is all about holidays and chocolates and Easter eggs’, said social researcher Mark McCrindle. “But four in five people accept the message of Easter, that Jesus died on the cross, as an historical occurrence”. Half the 1094 respondents to the nationwide study believe Jesus was born to a virgin and 49 per cent believe that he walked on water. “This idea of a 21st century sceptical secular mind dominating is not accurate,” Mr McCrindle said.  Overall, 40 per cent of people described themselves as Christians, with another 19 per cent saying they were spiritual but had no main religion. Nearly a third did not identify with any religion or spiritual belief. Mr McCrindle said “The research shows people are fine with Jesus, but they have issues with the church. They like the product but they don’t like the retail outlet”. Even among those who identified themselves as religious, a quarter were not active at all in practising their faith and another 42 per cent rarely, if ever, worshipped as part of a group. Fifty years ago, about a quarter of Australians attended church regularly. That has fallen to about one in 13 people. “Our Aussie approach to religion is, like everything else, a bit laidback”, Mr McCrindle said. ‘It’s an identity, it’s not an activity, and more about who you are than what you do”. The survey looked at ‘belief blockers’ – barriers to people engaging in religion – and found the biggest factors were church abuse, hypocrisy, judging others, religious wars and suffering.’

Early afternoon, saw Susie head off to Bendigo – apparently she would be back later tonight – was attending the Bendigo Easter Festival which is usually held up there this weekend. My day was fairly quiet and relaxed, until mid-afternoon, when I headed off for the first of three consecutive nights at the World Indoor Cycling Championships. Tonight was Day 3.  Unfortunately, it was not a good weekend for using public transport which I planned to do.  Because of the upgrading of the railway line to Sunbury to connect us to the Metro electrification system, the trains between here and Watergardens [or Sydenham] were to be replaced by coaches over the entire Easter weekend. That was manageable on it’s own, however because of the planned late finish of the cycling each night, the Sunbury line would be unacceptable for me to use, because the last train/coach to Sunbury left the city too early. So my plan, for the first two days at least, was to drive across to Watergardens, and then catch the suburban train network into the city [and repeat that process upon return]. It was going to mean very late nights on each occasion but couldn’t be avoided. I didn’t want to have to leave the nights’ events early! That was all fine – until I reached and discovered that there were ‘no trains’ between there and Footscray’, down the line all weekend – they too would be replaced by ordinary buses [captioned as ‘Rail Replacement Buses’].  Unfortunately, the road network between here and the city is not quite as ‘straight-lined’ as the railway line – so the journey on that part of the trip would be almost twice as long, time wise, with constant stops and diversions along the way!!!  But eventually, I did get onto a train, which took me through to Flinders Street. That whole process would be repeated in the reverse, later tonight!!

At Flinders Street Station, I had an ‘unsatisfactory’ bite to eat, and eventually caught a tram up to the Hisense Arena [a part of the Melbourne Tennis Centre] and directly across the railway line from the Melbourne Cricket Ground [where I would be next Friday night!]. A bit of time to spare – tried to satisfy my hunger with a couple of other items but there was not a great deal of ‘healthy’ choices, all the usual fare at events of this nature!!  Even the ‘advertised’ sandwiches were not available tonight – presumably the organisers had not been able to find a baker on Good Friday!!!

Robert had purchased premium seats for the three of us – in the second row from the front at the beginning of the home straight of the cycling track. But he would have been disappointed [obviously was] with those he had been given the first two nights – part of the track in front of us was obscured by the overhang of the structure of the track. However, while a little bit of a disability, we soon adjusted to the situation, and enjoyed the spectacle that followed. And a spectacle it was indeed!! Almost capacity crowd, lots of noise, music, commentators, hosts, etc, which I actually found made it very difficult at times to hear what was being said, often had to ask just ‘who had won’ a particular race, most of the finishes were very close.  My hearing is normally okay, unless we get into a large crowd, or even a room full of people where everyone is talking and/or music, etc playing, where I find a conversation very difficult.

Tonight’s events began with  the Women’s Sprints – the semifinals, and then, later in the program, the Finals [best of three heats in each case]. A ‘fascinating race, a short distance event in which two riders cover three laps of the track. But only the final 200 metres is actually timed – a race of tactics, strength and speed, where sudden and dramatic changes in speed, standstill attempts, and feints are all employed in the ‘race’ to surprise an opponent. As indicated, from the quarter finals onwards, the finalists contest the best of three races. Our own Anna Meares was our big hope in this race, her main opponent been the English champion, Victoria Pendleton – they in fact competed against each other in the semifinals, with the English girl actually crashing just near the finishing line in the second heat, but she came back to defeat Anna and reach the final. Anna eventually won the Bronze medal for third, but was obviously disappointed because that had been the event she’d expected to win.

My initial amazement from tonight was just how fast these professional cyclists went around the track velodrome, and while there would be a few falls during the course of the weekend, it amazed me that there were not more. The speeds covered, would continue to enthral this viewer over the next three nights. Meanwhile, we had a group of English supporters sitting beside us [next to Evelyn actually], the guys dressed in Scottish kilts, and constantly moving in and out of the stadium –  to purchase beer which they drank non-stop throughout the evening. With their British flags, and vocal support, they became a constant source of attention for the TV cameras whenever the English riders were achieving success, and I was told later, that this attention, led to our little group appearing on the TV coverage that night – next to this very boisterous group of British supporters [who I must admit at times, seemed to forget there were others around who really didn’t want their view obstructed by this mob standing up in front of us – a couple of polite requests, and they remembered where they were, and I must also admit, that they were equally supportive of Australian riders, when not in competition with their own!!].

The Women’s 10 km Scratch Final was also held tonight – another race full of tactics which seems to be the case with most cycling events – it begins with a massed start of competitors who race the assigned distance with the placings determined during the final sprint, taking into account laps gained. Very exciting to watch, but also very confusing just trying to work out who is in front, etc. In the end, a great ride by Australia’s Melissa Hoskins, who just failed to defeat the Polish gold medal winner. By this stage, the crowd noise in the Centre was ‘out of this world’, and as I mentioned earlier, most of what was being said over the loud speaker/commentating system, was lost to me, the important parts anyway!!

Apart from some early races of the Men’s Sprint, the other main feature of tonight’s program, were events in the Men’s and Women’s Omnium  [ a cycling equivalent of the athletic ‘Decathlon’ event].  It is made up of six events and is contested over two consecutive days. Events are Flying lap; Points race [M.30km, W. 20km]; Elimination race; Individual Pursuit [M. 4km, W. 3 km]; Scratch race [M. 15km, W. 10km]; and Time Trial [M.1 km, W. 500m]. The final classification is established by adding up the finishing places in each event – the winner is the rider who has the ‘lowest’ total.  Tonight we saw the 5th and 6th [final] event of the Men’s race, and the 2nd and 3rd event for the Women. The Men’s 15km Scratch race was very exciting, but again for me, also confusing, and once again, the crowd reaction and support [obviously very pro-Australian, but also demonstrably appreciative of the efforts of competitors from other nations] was a delight to be amongst.  That and the Time Trial for the men saw our cyclist, Glenn O’Shea produce a brilliant performance which was enough to see him lifted into the Gold Medal position – our first experience for the weekend of ‘Advance Australia Fair’. I should note, that while that ceremony was taking place, it again occurred to me that Australians are not as boisterous, as say the English, for eg, in singing their National Anthem, almost as if we are shy or embarrassed about doing so. And yet the applause and support before and after that ‘formal’ part is difficult to surpass!!  Interesting observation, I feel.

We actually didn’t stay for the final event – the Womens’ Ominium Elimination – Robert & Evelyn decided to leave at that point, and I had considered doing so, mainly because of concern about missing train/bus links etc, and being stranded in the city – highly unlikely on the suburban network until the early hours of the morning, but as it was a public holiday, a little concern weighed on my mind. I parted with my brother & his wife inside the Centre, and for some reason I decided to walk back to Flinders Street, along the Yarra River and the old ‘Swan Street’/Batman Avenue route as it used to be, expecting it to lead me straight back to the Swanston Street Bridge.

However, not having being this way for many years, I soon realised that with the new tollway and road constructions, etc, in this part of Melbourne, and all the sporting complex development,  that route no longer existed, so my little stroll back to the train station proved to be twice as long as I’d anticipated, and for a few moments there, I was almost prepared to admit to being lost!!  Anyway, eventually found my way to Flinders Street Station [after 4+ hours sitting, I guess the ‘walk’ was welcome!!], where a quick visit to what I consider are probably the most disgraceful set of public toilets in Melbourne  – although I think most of the blame has to be placed on the users – what a dreadful thought having people like that in one’s home, their ‘behaviour’ and ‘treatment’ of such public facilities is less than the standards of animals – with all that in mind, I stayed the briefest possible time, before catching the 11.23pm train, stopping all stations via the underground city loop to Watergardens   – which was misleading, because as expected, it only went as far as Footscray, at which point there was a rushed exit from the train to gain a seat on the correct bus [another train replacement bus] to the Watergardens Station, where my car was, hopefully, still awaiting my return!!  That part of the trip, which took us well past midnight, was long, slow and seemingly as though we were never going to reach our destination. At least it was not as crowded as I’d expected [that would come tomorrow night!], so I was personally quite comfortable.

Although I didn’t realise it until I reached home, at 10 minutes to 1am, Susan had arrived back from Bendigo not very long previously, and surprised to find me not home, had sent me a text message – ‘when will you be home, Dad?’ –  that type of question is usually the other way around!!!

And so ended my first visit to the cycling championships  –  a little wrap up of tonight’s medal events, follows.

Day Three Finals of the World Indoor Cycling Championships from Melbourne

 

Womens Sprint Final:

Gold: Victoria Pendleton [Great Britain]

Silver: Simona Krupeckaita [Lithuania]

Bronze: Anna Meares [Australia]  – this was the race Anna expected to win

 

Womens Scratch 10 km Final:

Gold: Katarzyna Pawlowska [Poland]

Silver: Melissa Hoskins [Australia]

Bronze: Kelly Druyts [Belgium]

 

Mens Ommium Final [of 6 events]

GOLD: Glenn O’Shea [AUSTRALIA]

Silver: Zach Bell [Canada]

Bronze: Lasse Norman Hansen [Denmark]

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