Top Of The Pops

The day started off with such peaceful serenity

It’s not all Lycra, training plans and travel schedules in the Reeve household.

Yesterday we had a family trip out. Last year I had purchased tickets to go and see a popular pop duo called, Twenty One Pilots. Never heard of them? Well I hadn’t until Robyn took the girls to see them in Sydney last year. Robyn had to chaperone given their ages and they all thoroughly enjoyed a small gig at Sydney Uni. When 21 Pilots announced they would be touring again we bought tickets for their larger arena show.

No lighters allowed these days, just use your phone

A year can be a long time in teenagers music tastes and over the last year the band has achieved some fame. Fortunately I was informed that they haven’t “sold out” and are still cool. I must say that I am thankful that my girls by-passed the Swift, Perry, and Ga Ga phase and seem to have more alternative tastes. If the merch T shirt isn’t black they aren’t interested.

The youngest teenager had made plans to go out to the venue early to queue up. The doors opened at 6pm so she left with her friend at 10am. I did question the sanity but let her get on with it.

The eldest teenager had her own band practicing at our house before they all headed out to watch a free afternoon gig. When Robyn and I arrived home from our morning ride they were in our lounge with their kit set up. Lots of chat, a few chords, the odd song and an hour later they were all out of the door to watch the professionals at work.

A video of Robyn in her Lycra rocking out to “State Transit”:

The eldest said she would meet us afterwards and we could travel out to the venue together. Very kind of her, I think she thought we may not have been able to get there on our own.

Given that Robyn and I had been up at 5am and had actually just cycled 150km we appreciated the peace and quiet and had a little “Disco Nap” to prepare us for the night ahead.

We set off to the venue in good spirits, a quick pit stop in the pub whilst we waited for the eldest was just what we needed to set the tone for the night ahead. If truth be told my evening could have ended there, a few more drinks, the rugby on the TV and home in bed before 10pm. But no, a family commitment needed to be honoured (and the youngest was at the venue so somebody would have had to go out and get her anyway).

According to Wikipedia, 21 Pilots belong to the Alternative hip hop / electropop / Indie pop / rock genre. When we arrived at the venue it was clear that they attract a lot of teenagers to their fan base, a few twenty-something’s and some old folk (probably there because of the teenagers). There also seemed to be more teenage girls than boys all doing their best to look as alternative as the weekend off school will allow.

The youngest fought for her right to party in the pit!

We made it into the venue, texted the youngest who told us she was in “The pit” right near the front and would see us afterwards. By this time the eldest had scoped the joint, gave us one final look up and down and informed us she was off to find the youngest and would catch us later. We had been abandoned.

So Robyn and I were left standing among the teenage throng on the arena floor. We headed for the edge of the arena to take it all in and to question what the hell had we gotten ourselves into. When the only people at a gig that want to share their experiences with you are the security guards then you know you may be a little out of place. One lovely security lady took great delight in making sure we were going to be OK. She even offered us her seat for a little sit down if we got tired! She also pointed out that all the other chaperones were sitting in the seats not standing in the arena, clearly we never got this memo.

And so we stood with the teenagers, not our own, nodding our heads, and waving our arms when instructed to do so. The boys can play, sing and had  produced a multimedia experience and light show that was spectacular. Their music may not have been my type of stuff but it was enjoyable. They even played a few numbers in a stage in the middle of the arena right next to us, and my personal highlight of the evening a cover version of “Jump Around”, that had us both throwing caution to the wind.

What would the teenagers have said if they had seen us?

As the night wore on my legs grew a little weary.

When a giant hamster ball appeared and the lead singer jumped in and set off  around the crowd I knew I had had enough. Rather than scream with excitement like the rest of the tribe, my mind wondered to the type of insurance you would need and what the O,H&S risk assessment would look like to be able to get away with it.

Me and my home boy hanging out. Oh dear lord does it get any worse?

Fortunately the night drew to a punctual close, clearly this band knows how to play to its audience. No need to rock out all night when mum and dad are waiting outside to take the audience home.

As the lights came up we found our teenagers and made the late night trip on public transport across town, to home. As we made our way through the party goers in varying states of disrepair, it reminded me of our previous life and was an insight for the girls of what could lie ahead.

It was with some relief that I fell into my bed with my ears ringing and a lingering question around insurance for dangerous stunts in public arenas.



The Italian Job

imageThere is no better way of experiencing what a country has to offer than by going for a bike ride. You get to see first hand the countryside, the architecture and, if you have enrolled in one of their most popular sportive’s, meet the locals and observe how they like to ride to their bikes. In Italy they like to ride their bikes fast, just like they drive.

I travelled to Bormio in Italy with my friend Anthony and a group of his bike riding mates from the UK to participate in the Granfondo Stelvio. They had organised everything and I was incredibly fortunate to just be able to tag along. Great roads, good company and all I had to do was ride my bike.

Travel broadens the mind and it also highlights the differences between cultures. I have ridden in France, this weekend was the full Italian experience. Having spent the day amongst the locals here is what I observed:

A MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) would seem to be a generic look regardless of their nationality. The Italians just do it with more style and panache. From the coordinated club casual wear, down to the team kit, there didn’t appear to be a fashion faux par anywhere.

The Italians love fluro colours, yes it may seem a little contradictory to talk about style and then mention fluro in the same breath, but somehow it seems to work. The brighter the kit the better from what I could see. If it was you or me wearing it we would look like some sad 80’s throwback, on a well groomed Italian with designer stubble they get away with it.

Bells and Whistles
Italians like their bikes. I have not seen so much expensive carbon on a start line before. Normally on these mass participation races you get a segment of hardcore cycling enthusiasts who ride their steel bikes and do so with pride. I only saw one steel clunker yesterday and it turns out the rider was from London.

Only in Italy could you be greated at the top of a climb with a man with a tray of focaccia and pizza. I almost looked around for the red wine and was willing to call it a day there and then. It doesn’t matter if you are on top of a mountain there are standards to uphold and at every rest stop the food and drinks were marvellous.

The Mortirolo may only be 11km in length but it is brutally steep. Lots of switchbacks have you weaving up the mountain on a single track road. Then once you are near the top, the road becomes a concrete path; super steep and slippery. Most people have the sense to get off and walk. There are a few riders who demonstrate their strength and bike handling skills and ride up this “goat track” and there are others like me try to emulate them and fail. For a while I was looking good, shouts of bravo from the other walking cyclists echoed around me as I ground my way upwards. Then I lost traction, hit a rut and next thing I am on the deck. Fortunately I was going so slowly you couldn’t say I crashed, I just fell sideways. I am not sure what the others were saying as I lay on the ground still clipped into my cleats, but I sprung up, dusted myself down and pretended like it never happened. I even thought about trying to get back on but opted for the far safer option and started to trudge to the top with the others.

Nature may be accountable for the stunning scenery but at some stage somebody has to decide to build a road up it. The Stelvio pass is as picturesque as any. An iconic climb for any cyclists and it does not disappoint. A 20km climb, it tops out at 2,750m with snow still on the ground. Any other nation would have left it to its own devices. The Italians built one of the highest paved road in Europe up it. Tunnels, numerous switchbacks and crazy Italians climbing and descending (once you complete the race to the summit you have to rug up and descend back down) only adds to the fun.

imageIt can be difficult not to make generalisations and revert to nationalistic clichés when you describe different cultures. The reality is that these observations are grounded in the truth and that is why they stand the test of time.The Italian bike riders (men and women) like to ride with determination and intensity. I have never been overtaken on the descents by so many people. I am at best a cautious descender. I can normally hang onto a bunch but not this lot. Maybe it’s their superior bike handling skills or familiarity with the the mountains, either way they race down them as though their life depends on it. This passion was evident all day. Without understanding a world of Italian, if you listened to some of the conversations going on in the bunch you would have sworn there was about to be a punch up, then there would be a cheerful “ciao” and riders would move on. They were probably discussing the quality of the focaccia at the last stop.

All bike riders love riding their bikes, the Italians just seem to do it with a little more style


Hitting the town after we all completed the race. Cheers gents!