First crash on the Felt, I killed the camera and how I got saturated riding on a perfectly fine day

Today ended up being a very wet ride even though the sun was shining and you had to hunt around to find even a skerrick of cloud in the sky.

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It was a (I drunk too much last night) late start, and consequently, solo ride today and the plan was to do a lazy mash of the northern half of the Moreton Bay Cycleway.

It is usually a pretty safe ride, mostly on paths and boardwalks. It’s the kind of ride you do as a default. But after a few days of rain like we had this week it tends to get flooded in the Boondall Wetlands section. I knew this, having ridden this course countless times before — but of course I forgot it today until I saw all that water over the path and I was like, “Oh yeah…I remember now…” But I mashed on.

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This is the very spot Jeremy had a crash and I went down over the top of him. I love how there is that prophetic sign. 

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In the photo above you can see one of those flooded sections — which typically ran for about 5-10 metres. So negotiating these tiny lakes I unclipped both shoes and pulled my legs up as high as possible and used my momentum to roll through. This worked quite well but there were a few very deep sections a bit later and I could not help but get a bit wet. Not ideal, but no biggie.

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These “middens” are scattered throughout the park to honour the aboriginal people who once thrived here. Also in this photo is one of those “skerricks of cloud”.

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Pretty soon you get to Shorncliffe and then the sweet, sweet virginally-white concrete surface over the new Ted Smout Bridge (below).

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I turned around at Woody Point and had a break here at Sandgate looking out over the mudflats. This is the only photo I took while not riding.

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I love this “Addams Family house” in Shorncliffe. 

So next I thought about taking Sandgate Road home — which is a bit of a shortcut — thus avoiding all the bullshit of constantly flooded bikeway. But then I thought, “I need the k’s!” So I just kept going and before I knew it I was back in the Wetlands and just after passing a dude with his 4 young daughters — all on bikes — I came upon that really deep section of water which was so deep you couldn’t see the bottom.

This time I didn’t unclip, I just went really slowly but then the front wheel dropped at least 10 cms into an invisible hole and BANG! That sent me sideways and I was suddenly lying in about 5 inches of water — instantly saturated.

I dragged myself and the bike up, which had hit the ground hard, but didn’t seem damaged. My right shin, hidden by knee-warmers, hurt and so did my left wrist. I got back on the bike and rolled through all the water to where it was dry and by then that family I had just overtaken came up. Luckily they hadn’t seen me crash! But I told the dude and what had just happened anyway. He stopped and was pretty nice. And so I told the girls I had learnt my lesson — follow the white line in the middle of the path (the highest and most visible section).

Meanwhile I pulled the camera out of the back pocket of my jersey and attempted to take a picture of the horrible scene but it refused to switch on. It “looked” switched on — the lens was mysteriously extended but it was frozen. Then I realised with all its dents and marks it had hit the ground just before I did, and in the process it would have been completely submerged in water.

And then I pushed off and my drenched feet squished at every stroke. Oh well. At every other bit of submerged bikeway I just smashed through thinking I couldn’t get any wetter. When I got to Nundah crit track I wrung out my socks and tried to get the camera working again without success. Then I did a few laps and headed home.

It is officially dead. It was actually Dee’s camera btw, but the good news is —  I can buy a new one now!

Just now downloading the images I took today – the image below was recorded by the camera just at the moment at, or just after the crash. BIZARRE! I think it kinda looks interesting and maybe even symbolic of its doom — its last hurrah.

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BONUS PIC!

This morning the cat just turned up at this door (which leads to the kitchen). And it’s not an entrance she ever uses. But it seemed like she was insisting – so we acquiesced. 

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How I almost lost my voice, smashed 3 glasses, and how last night’s roller-racing averted disaster

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So this is what happened last night when Scott and I MC’d a Red Bull sponsored roller racing event at Cartel on Caxton Street.

You know when you are in a public place somewhere and you think of something amusing and you just can’t help but laugh-out-loud and everyone looks at you like you are a mental patient? Well that happened to me today as I walked down the Queen Street Mall.

And the moment I was recalling was the moment last night where Scott and I raced on the rollers and at the start we had to chug these two mysterious shots. (I was later informed one was whisky and the other was pickle juice). But instead of handing the glasses back to someone I just dropped them on the ground and then I started smashing.

After the race Gypsy was shaking his head like, “Dave’s done something stupid again”. But he also had this big grin on his face as he told me, “Dude, you were supposed to hand the glasses back!”

“Oh.” I said, nodding. “Yeah – that makes sense.”

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So I felt really bad for the bar dude who had to clean up my mess so I put 4 bucks in the tip jar. And it didn’t help that about an hour earlier Scott had turned around while addressing the crowd and knocked a glass of beer out of my hand — just when everyone was looking at us. Perfect!

Oh boy. Not my finest moment. In my defence I didn’t really know who to hand them on to and it was a race — I had to get moving! No mucking around! And although I beat Scott I think I got a bit of an advantage with my glass smashing spectacle. (It made for good THEATRE but!)

Anyway — it was a good night, a lot of people came and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Luckily Scott did 90% of the talking because I was such rubbish.

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MITIGATING DISASTER

The whole event almost imploded after the very first race. Part of me and Scott’s official duties were to manage getting racers on and off the bikes, adjusting seat height, locking shoes into clips and generally making sure everything was safe. Scott was assigned the “blue” bike and I had the “yellow” bike. But after the first race the dude on Scott’s detail all of a sudden tried to get off in an absolute hurry by leaning the bike over — as you would do when you got off a normal bike you were riding on the street.

But of course this wasn’t the street, and these bikes had no front wheel and were locked in place by that tiny 5 cent piece sized bit of metal at the bottom of the front forks and so if you lean the bike over you are really attempting to warp that tiny bit of steel. And so after he got off we discovered a tiny crack in that delicate section of the fork. After some debate it was decided it seemed to be capable of staying together — at least for a little while. EEK.

So Scott had to keep a close eye on it and make sure it was super tight in the roller frame.

It’s actually quite amazing how much stress those bikes are put through in an event like this. It’s like putting them through 1000kms in one evening! I know for one the seatpost bolt on my bike was almost stripped by the end and you’d think the lifespan of the forks would be drastically reduced.

LOSING MY VOICE

During the races I got quite a bit excited shouting at riders to SPIN! There was lots of swearing and lots of notions that were definitely NSFW.

Consequently it feels like someone has poured acid down my throat. By the end of the evening I could barely talk. Even now almost 24 hours later I am squawking and husky (but not in a sexy way) and for a second cannot actually make my vocal cords work when I want to say something. Yay!

PROVISION FOR WOMEN

I don’t want to get up on a high horse here, but the evening wasn’t really structured for female contestants. They were essentially racing against eachother, but for the prizes, they were racing against men. And that wasn’t really fair.

At the meeting we had at the beginning I brought it up but there wasn’t much I could do. But as it turned out somehow at the last minute it got decided that the female winner could choose a bike too. And fortuitously the 3rd prize bike-helmet-trophy was awarded to the female winner after we couldn’t work out who came third — which isn’t ideal, but at least that felt the right thing to do at the time and the female riders were acknowledged. We need women riding bikes! It’s that simple.

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Anyway — I am not sure I would do it again in a hurry. It was a lot of hard work — but lots of fun. Yes!

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EVEREST and how I met someone famous — and naturally did something incredibly stupid

Before I was a big bike rider — I started getting into hiking. And because I am a hyper-consumer of information, naturally I read a lot about hiking. And the Tour de France of hiking was the Seven Summits and crucially — climbing Mount Everest. And although Everest is only just the highest mountain on this planet, many mountaineers will tell you it is an easy climb compared to many of the other “lesser” mountains on Earth.

But it still claims a lot of lives — I guess cause it attracts a lot of “tourist” climbers. And one book I had just read was called “Into Thin Air” and it was almost the sequel to “Into the Wild” — another great book (which was made into a film just a few years ago by Sean Penn).

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So Into Thin Air was about the 1996 disaster on Everest which the author — Jon Krakauer somehow survived. His narrative was compelling — mostly cause he was a writer and had a sense for drama and it was an epic tale. But his version of events apportioned blame. Real, cold, hard blame on the professional mountaineer and guide Anatoli Boukreev. While reading it I just agreed with the author — mostly because that’s your instinct when you are absorbed in a fantastic narrative.

But then only a few weeks later I found myself randomly face-to-face with one of the protagonists in this book. One of the only other survivors, apart from Krakauer.

The crazy thing about climbing Everest is that it is relatively “easy” to reach the summit — it is getting down where everyone tends to lose their lives or external appendages.

So it was 1999 and only about 4 years later. And that book fresh in my head I attended a relatively pedestrian “Governor’s Awards” ceremony at Queensland’s Government House as a cadet journalist to take a photo and interview an ambulance officer who was getting a bravery award. During the lengthy ceremony while I waited to get my photo of the ambo getting the award I noted one individual got an honour for climbing Everest. My ears pricked up for a second or two — but I instantly reverted to the job at hand.

And after the ceremony I slunk back as the man I intended to interview celebrated with his family — just wanting to give him space and save the boring stuff for later. And while I deferred I noticed ‘that guy who got the Everest medal thing’ and as we were both alone I walked up and said, “Hi. I couldn’t help hearing that you’ve climbed Everest.”

In my head I was like – “It’s not such a big deal. I mean anyone could climb that bad-boy so long as they had good weather and a bunch of guides and sherpas.” Whatevz.

And then I said how I had just read “Into Thin Air” and the guy was instantly curiously attentive but quite a bit more distant and disturbed at the same time.

I then proceeded to gush about how much I loved the book and how great a story it was.

He looked at me like I had just clubbed a baby seal. I asked him if he had read the book and he said, no, and didn’t really want to.

My stupid brain couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t be interested in this book, especially someone who had been there. But then a weird thought entered my brain. Maybe this guy had a gripe with the version of events, not with the storytelling.

And thus I must have realised he might know some of the people in this story. But I stupidly plowed on and I said, “Do you know Jon Krakauer?” And he was like, “Yeah.”

And I was like, “WOAH!” But he didn’t share my enthusiasm. This dude was a real tough nut to crack. Eventually still a bit giddy with excitement I asked, “So, um, what was your name again?”

And he replied, “Mike Groom.”

And so I lost my shit and when my knees stopped being all wobbly I said, “OH MY GOD. You’re, like, in the book! HOLY SHIT! You are in the book…”

And then I realised how animated I had just been — how excited with bloodlust at this incredible tragedy this person had been such a part of.

My face was suddenly ashen and I tried as best I could to sober the conversation up, but he had seen through my patheticness and made some excuse to talk to someone else while I just stood there with my mind exploding with amazement but also with an equal part of sheer revulsion.

I then read Boukreev’s account of events in his book and it was so much more convincing. I felt even more bad about how I had unintentionally behaved that day. And Boukreev died in an avalanche on Christmas Day 1997, the year after that evil day on Everest.

I am sorry Mike and I am sorry Anatoli. RIP.

CRASHING MY BIKE STORIES PT 3 “My rear wheel falling off”

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So this is the third instalment of my “bike fail” series, AKA “Crashing my bike…LOL”.

And of course through the magic of WordPress you can all see PART 1 and PART 2.

To begin this story I might just establish things by telling you all about the first bike I truly LOVED. And this bike was “The BERRETTO”.

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It was made in Brisbane — my hometown — by a not unknown local bike-builder called Brett Richardson — who ran a store in Chermside for a period too. And the seller of this frame told me Brett had ridden this bike too. I paid $210 for it and I thought that was an absolute bargain (and still do).

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I immediately stripped my shitty 50s Malvern Star and put all the parts, wheels et al onto the Berretto. Then a few weeks later I bought it a brilliantly-white Aerospoke front wheel which was horribly lampooned by my beloved Bike Snob blogger — but I didn’t care. I loved the vibe of Japanese fixed gear where they just embraced asymmetry and my graphic designer brain loved their use of colour.

I was thus dubbed “Potato-Dave” cause I was almost the first person in Brisbane rocking an Aerospoke or “Potato” —  the name the local fixed gear scene chose to call them, half affectionately, and half in contempt.

But I was also embracing a “them and us” mentality — I was sticking it to the roadies. See in those days fixed gear riding was so frowned upon by riders of road bikes — who were all so old and conservative and reactionary. And naturally being in that state they hated us. They literally abused the fuck out of us on forums and got all gruff with us on the road.

And I guess we found that vitriol and contempt ridiculous and just played our part by being even more outrageous, even more recalcitrant — but with ever-increasing skills at the same time. When we all started doing bigger and bigger rides fixed — and I’ve done 200ks fixed — we would invariably overtake roadies on their “territory” and they would just seethe. It was like you could see the smoke puffing out of their ear holes like in cartoons. They would be melting away with fury but helpless to retaliate.

So I started riding this bike almost exclusively. My Trek roadie got shelved and dust formed on its surface. I didn’t really miss the grinding in the mountains. I figured all this grinding I did fixed was almost the same.

And my bike just accidentally got more awesome when one day I was coming from work and I smashed over that space between the footpath and the gutter and then down onto the road proper and both my tyres instantly deflated. Back at home I realised the “crabon-fibre” Aerospoke was fine but the supposedly-superiour aluminium rear wheel had a big dent in it. So I put on a blue rim from another bike, ostensibly as a quick fix until the old rim was repaired, but it all looked suddenly stupid, but so very cool at the same time.

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I instantly had a bike that would turn heads and I even got kids coming up to me saying, “Why have you got two different coloured wheels?”

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And unbeknownst to me at the time, Brett had built the frame so it could be actually be ridden on the track — even though it had forward drop-outs and was essentially a “road-bike”. I should have realised that cause when I rode the bike I was surprised at how high the bottom bracket was and how I could lean ridiculously into corners while fixed and get no where near achieving pedal-strike. I met Brett later and we got to talk about this bike and I told him all the tales and showed him all the pics of our adventures. That was amazing — almost like Luke meeting Yoda.

NEW YORK

The Berretto and I took the trip to New York in 2010. It was magical. I might tell you all that story another time but in the transit process it meant the bike was broken — so that’s why I can’t ride her anymore. SAD FACE.

The arrow points to the crack in the steel in the right rear-drop out. If that broke off it would be another rear-wheel-falling-off story. YAY!

THE STORY OF HOW MY BACK WHEEL FELL OFF

Anyway. Sorry for all that back story. Here is the tale.

It began on my commute to work. About 5 minutes in I got a flat tyre. Although I was pretty shitty about this eventuality — I did the tube change in record time and was actually quite proud. And so I rode on to work — no big deal. And then when lunch time rolled around I grabbed the bike and rode off towards West End.

And so this is what was about to happen: I was going to push off from a busy intersection and about 3 metres later my rear wheel was going to escape from its housing and fall off. Then I was going to crash in front of a BILLION people.

THE INTERSECTION

It was Melbourne Street, and I was waiting for the lights at Cordelia to change. And behind me was a bus and I was conscious of the fact the road was narrow and I wanted to be ahead of that road-dreadnought. So I put a big effort into pushing off so I could smash ahead. But after that first big crank spin something felt really fucking different and then another crank spin and the whole drivetrain seemed to be disconnected and no matter what effort I put in (3rd and 4th crank turns) I wasn’t just losing momentum but things started falling apart. I was going sideways and there was nothing I could do but crash into the road — doing a stupid flip in the process — just at the other side of the intersection.

And I should say this was lunch time and it was a very busy intersection. And when I smashed into the road and my broken bike landed on top of me the list of people that witnessed this tragedy included:

1) The bus stopped right beside me and the driver opened the door as I lay there a mess of me and broken bike. Almost everyone inside the bus got out of their seats to come and look at me.

2) On the footpath an Energex worker was working inside a manhole on the footpath. At that brief moment I found myself laying on the bitumen all bloody and sad he poked his head out just 2 metres away and we were now at exactly the same head-height. We stared at eachother for a second or two (I guess it would be as surreal for him as for me) and then bizarrely he offered me his tools so I could fix my bike.

3) And of course there were a GAZILLION office workers and general pedestrians all around and they just STARED.

AFTERMATH

So what had happened was I hadn’t tightened my rear wheel bolts enough after the flat on the way to work. Bleeding and sore I managed to fix the rear wheel to the bike — this time properly and I got the fuck out of there as fast as possible.

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SCABS: the only good thing about crashing your bike

BONUS PICS:

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Cleaning, and why I like vacuuming

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When I was about 10 my bike got stolen from right outside the front of the house.

It was a Sunday and I was being lazy and had just parked my BMX on it’s kickstand on our short front path and forgot about it for a few hours.

My dad was naturally quite mad and decided to report it to the police. My dad was a bit like that.

That evening he got a mysterious phone call and when he hung up he suddenly announced, “The police are coming around to talk to you about your bike.”

I almost wet myself. I had never talked to a police person in my life. Even though I knew I had a pretty aggressive law-abiding-gene — I was still scared shitless by “Authority”.

And then my dad said, “Well you had better clean up your room — don’t you think?”

“Yes,” I said, very soberly. I raced to my room which resembled an 80s apocalypse movie crossed with the trenches of World War One.

So I did the fastest “clean” of my room ever. Naturally I shoved as much junk under my bed, but essentially I worked out what was achievable in the limited timeframe and did that task first, tackled those big jobs, then worked on non-core details once that level had been achieved.

And it was quite surprising to me how impressive my room looked in that 15 minutes or so I had — compared to the rubbish tip it was only a few minutes before. And of course the cops had no interest in seeing my room, nor did they even get past our front sunroom. But I wasn’t entirely disappointed. Apart from the fact it was satisfying to know if for some reason they wanted to do a snap inspection, my room looked at least “neatish” — it was also just a bit of an achievement to get my room in such a presentable state in such a short period of time. I quietly patted myself on the back.

As it turns out, my bike had been “borrowed” by a kid-neighbour and turned up a day later underneath some house — not his — only a street away. This was just part of the chaos and perpetual bewilderment of growing up. I was glad to have my bike back, but just a bit embarrassed and annoyed all this drama was really over nothing.

But I never forgot that intensity of cleaning I achieved on that day, and indeed I embraced it for the rest of my life. I really felt proud and so to this day if I am engaged in a cleaning activity — I do it in a really determined or almost frenetic state.

Sometimes it’s like a trance — and I almost actually enjoy it.

An ex-girlfriend once described me as a “tidy” person, not a “clean” person. Although she wasn’t really trying to be philosophical, just annoyingly critical, I think she was right. I am not too fussy about sterilising the house with chemicals and washing my hands every 5 minutes. In my “tidy” world — I am more focussed on my stuff having it’s own “place” so when I clean I can approach the job mathematically.

And it’s a little funny, but sometimes I will still do a “the police are coming around in 15 minutes” hyper-clean-up. TRUE STORY. It’s like I can treat cleaning more like an adventure or an escape – rather than a shitty chore.

But now I am a bit older I guess I kinda think of cleaning less like the cops are going to raid my bedroom and more like I was playing “Millionaire Hot Seat” with Eddie Maguire. I smash through the easy questions trying to get to that “first safe level”. Then I relax and take my time with the more difficult questions — which usually involves that “clean” cleaning with the chemicals and scrubbing and hands-and-knees stuff.

ON VACUUMING

I especially love vacuuming.

In the “clean” versus “tidy” debate, it is the one “clean” thing my brain can really get into. I guess it appeals to the “boy” in there. Vacuuming is like serious indoors cleaning, but at an arm’s length (plus quite a bit more) — with a machine that makes a lot of noise, and the results are quite tangible — so when you walk around the house your feet no longer make a crunching sound.

We bought a Dyson earlier this year and despite the considerable expense — OMG — what a Revelation. Previously we had been using shitty K-mart ‘hoovers’ — as the English would say — and there’s no comparison. None. Light and dark. Good and evil.

Apart from actually doing a good job of sucking up the shit on the floors — carpet or wood — having a Dyson is like being part of a community, and a community of people with really clean stuff underfoot.

It’s a bit like buying an Apple product. The packaging, the instructions, the plain english, the diagrammatic explanations, the attention to detail — it is all so refreshing. You even get emails from Dyson telling you when to clean your filters.

The thing I love about Dyson instructions is that there are hardly any words. I officially learnt today something I knew instinctively already – we are highly visual beings. We learn more from illustrations than words. It was from this amazing video if you care to look.

In closing — I’ve also read somewhere that men who do more housework have a better sex life. I guess it makes sense. I do look pretty damn hott when I am using the Dyson, especially with all those extra attachments. Totally.

My collage

I know you’re probably not wondering about that picture at the top of this blog, but I will tell you its story anyway.

Way back in 2006 I was playing bass in a band called the Little Lovers and Wintah asked me to make a poster for our next gig. So I just sat at the computer waiting for inspiration and I remembered seeing this picture of a pile of heads and thought I’d just get some heads of famous people and stuff we liked and make a similar pile. Initially I tried to make it look like everything had been shoddily cut out with scissors, but I’m not sure if I was that successful in the end.

So this is the poster I made:

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Everyone seemed to like it, including Wintah, who can be a very tough critic!

So then fast forward to 2008 and my inner-narcissist suddenly threw this thought into my brain: you are the fucking greatest!

After that, it said, “Why not make your own collage and put in EVERYTHING that you love and have loved! Party.”

And I said, “Aw, ok.”

So it took me about 3 months to complete. I made all these big lists of everything. Music, TV, movies, art, books, childhood fascinations, inspiring thinkers etc etc. It was actually a little more difficult than I thought and there were plenty of things I had to really dig around in my brain to remember. I almost went year-by-year of my life. (But even so, I am constantly reminded of stuff that should have been included.)

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Some of the more meaningful stuff is bigger, but that wasn’t a hard rule. Sometime’s there’s multiple references, like the Blues Brothers, or the Beatles. Sometime’s one picture will represent multiple things, like the lego AT-AT.

And as soon as I’d “finished”, then a day later it was out-of-date. So I’d shove that band’s pic in or whatever. Eventually I forced myself to stop and just settle on this snapshot of my life with the intention of doing it all again in five year’s time and seeing how much had changed.

Later I printed it out and framed it and put it on the living room wall.

Passing a bike down…

So you are all so special you get two blog posts today. This one is a bit more serious but.

Today at about lunch time, Dee and I were driving back from the Shire and we joking around and having a good time. We passed this nation-sized vehicle:

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And on the radio was “Sorrow” by David Bowie and Dee was like – “Who’s this? Neil Sedaka?” LOL.

But then there was suddenly a big traffic jam. And we slowly got closer and closer and saw a bunch of flashing lights. Cop cars, a fire truck, an ambulance and a bunch of people looking busy.

As we got near I said to Dee, the reason we are going so slow is cause of rubber-necking — there’s not that much traffic.

But then we got our chance to see what the fuss was about and instantly saw a broken bike and I felt sick. And this was officially the first time I had seen the aftermath of a bike incident — just cruising by.

I also felt so fucking angry because just on Monday Tom and I — on the way home from this ride — had ridden past this turn-off and had been so freakishly close to being hit it was scary.

FAITH

As a rider we are always forced to have some degree of faith in humanity. And personally as someone who thinks we are pretty much doomed (see picture above), that can be a tough pill to swallow. But I do try to be a humanist. I try.

So when we are on a bike path or a segregated section we don’t have to rely on this faith so much. On a back street we trust this faith a fraction more, and when we have that tiny road shoulder it gets a little more real.

But those highways with no shoulder we have to constantly rely on this FAITH.

But it gets even worse, even more ACUTE where you’re on a highway and you are pushing ahead and traffic is attempting to leave or merge at as fast as their vehicle is possible of achieving and you and your bike has to cross this NO MAN’S LAND.

There is no other descriptor I can use other than heinous.

So once Tom and I had a chance to chat we had been both like, “Holy shit – how fucking shit were those cars?”

So this rider getting hit right there is just a massive kick in the guts. I wanted to turn around and smash the driver in the face. I really did. I hope this rider recovers. I am so sorry.

If anyone is reading this – and I don’t really know – please just be mindful of bike riders. Please.

How we rode to Nambour and how I hit the emergency brake on a train

This is the story of how we climbed two really big hills, how we ate a shitload of food, how I managed to accidentally push the emergency stop button and bring a halt to our train home and how, bizarrely, somehow Scott and I beat Mr Thomas — “the human mountain goat” — to the top of the Maleny Road climb.

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And I know you are all probably getting quite sick of these crazy bike adventures, but unfortunately for you, I am not. I am fucking, fucking, FUCKING loving it. The buzz you get after lasts for days. You are all just going to have to get used to it. Sorry.

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I love taking pictures just after dawn – all that golden shit makes pretty ordinary shots so much more wonderous 

And this one was special, one of those rides. Even though it was 8 hours of hard, hard riding and then 4 hours stuck on a train, it was all so worth it.

So statistically the ride looked like this: 171km of road travelled, 2514m of climbing (which broke my previous record by 600m), an average speed of 27.5km/hr and a top speed of 78.9km/hr coming down into Nambour.

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So this was Tom’s ride and I almost said it couldn’t be done, and then I said I couldn’t make it because I needed to be in Ormiston that evening for a family dinner. See as this was a one-way ride up to Nambour with a train back I just thought there wasn’t enough time to do it. But then I figured I could just keep catching trains until I got to the Redlands and send a change of clothes ahead of me. And so I realised I really didn’t have any excuses.

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Dayboro 

It wasn’t the easy way to Nambour. We would be going over two serious climbs and after the last climb there were a few quite fucked-up pinches of road that would smash the spirit when the end was so near. But then we could look forward to that last 10kms which were all downhill.

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Thomas looking very serious! 

The ride to Dayboro was pretty uneventful and after two pasties and an Ice Break we were hitting our first mountain – Mt Mee. Although it is a long climb, the gradient is pretty gentle, but then at the top there is still some climbing to do as you cross the “plateau”. The scenery was incredible up here and so green and wildernessy. This was riding. It was ART.

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I like this house at the top of Mt Mee, it looks like that big “mushroom” tree has grown out of it — a bit like in the Totoro movie

After dropping down into D’aguilar and scoffing a coke and a chocolate bar we pushed on to Woodford for a bigger meal. I chose the healthy option of a meat pie and a big bowl of chips smothered in chicken-salt.

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Woodford

Next we were heading north again through pretty quiet roads and Tom had devised this plan to avoid a shitty hill Scott and he had suffered through the last time they took these roads (for the Noosa L’Eroica). The new road was called “Commissioners Flat Road” and although a road called thus was entitled to be level, in fact it was actually a tiny bit uphill. But it wasn’t that noticeable. And when we got to Peachester and had this awesome, awesome surprise downhill we forgave the Commissioner — whomever that person was.

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Tom took the fenders off his Colossi. That doesn’t sound such a big deal, but to us — we care about that shit.

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Great views of the west and north face of Mt Beerwah 

Meanwhile, after only 100kms, I was now feeling a bit “shit” and started telling the other guys I might not make it up that looming HILL. But you what? I was just a little low on food and water and feeling a bit of a mental over-reaction to what I assumed was ahead. As soon as I fuelled up at Landsborough — an over-sized spinach and cheese roll plus another Ice Break — I started feeling well again. The secret to good riding, which actually isn’t a secret, is just eating and drinking accordingly — which usually means stuffing as much food and drink down your pie-hole as regularly as you can.

It has taken me all this time to work it out. As Scott says, “Eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty”. Yet I have spent 90% of my biking career riding out without eating breakfast, not eating at all on the ride and wondering why I was such a mess halfway through. But then again, I should be forgiven because I am a total, fucking idiot.

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A little bit of cyclocross action on that Commissioners Flat Road

At Landsborough I also downed one of my Endura gels just before we set off again. Scott and Tom blasted ahead while I just settled and attempted to work out what I was capable of. See this climb had been stabbing at my mind ever since I found the bit after Mt Mee just a bit more painful than I assumed. In the past I had driven a car up this road — and even with a decent run-up and my foot glued all the way to the floor — the car would struggle to stay at 60km/hr while at the same time making ugly sounds that would wake the dead.

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But truth-be-told, I didn’t find it that bad. There was a tiny bit of relief after 1km where the road got a little less steep, which I initially thought was the end, but then I could see around the corner and instantly realised that section was just a warm-up. A big sign said “2km of steep road” ahead. “Fantastic,” I thought. I rested as best I could on this tiny bit of respite and then started counting crank-revolutions again. I also had some tunes in my ears to distract me from the pain. Periodically I shifted from sitting forward on the saddle (using my quads) to shifting as far back on the saddle and “lifting” (using my calves). Bizarrely at one point I found myself trying to use my arms to lift me higher.

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One of those awesome downhills (in the distance) followed by a shit-shit climb on the Montville plateau.

Eventually I caught up to Tom and I hugged his wheel for a bit thinking he was just taking it easy. After 20 crank-revs I decided to pass him and then I started feeling actually — good. I caught up to Scott and just enjoyed the rest of the climb. I know that sounds crazy but my body had suddenly come to the party and I felt supreme.

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Montville

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A bit of “surprise” gravel at the bottom of the descent from Mapleton. I had just hit almost 80km/hr and had to mash on the brakes to deal with this shit

And indeed the whole ride after that was almost like I was as fresh as if I had just left home. But Tom on the other hand was suffering. And this is the very first time I have seen him in this state. It’s not like I am gloating, it’s just, well, refreshing to see him as a human being for a change! It was only a few months ago that he beat me up Tambourine by at least 5 minutes! I should also say we only arrived 15 seconds ahead of him — so it wasn’t that big of a deal — but it still gave Scott and me lots of material to give Tom a little friendly ribbing.

[Also of note on this climb I looked down and my Garmin ticked over the magic, and personally unprecedented, 2000m of elevation. That achievement — which has alluded me for a while, was quite glorious.]

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I’ll fast-forward over those beautiful rolling Blackall Range hills and return to the story at Nambour. We found the train station and realised we had missed a train by 10 minutes. The next train was over an hour away. I suggested we have a beer and this seemed to be a popular idea so we tried to find a pub but couldn’t. So a better idea hatched. We found a bottle-o in a shopping centre and Scott and I bought Smirnoff Blacks — the clear stuff. We then found a discreet spot and poured that shit into our water-bottles.

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We then retired to the last seats on the platform and waited/party’d on for the train. And once on the train, naturally I did something stupid.

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THE STORY OF HOW I ACCIDENTALLY STOPPED THE TRAIN

So we were about 30 minutes into the journey from Nambour to Caboolture. As there was a toilet on the train I got up and went in. And because the train was rocking around and I was in cleats I really couldn’t stand up that steadily so I leant against the wall for some support and because I try to be a good citizen I wanted my aim in this public facility to be as true as possible.

And as I had had quite a bit of liquid of late – not just booze – I knew this trip to the facilities wasn’t going to be a short one. So I am blissfully gushing away giving Niagara Falls a bit of competition and the train suddenly comes to an abrupt stop, with all that bumping and rocking, and at the time I remember thinking, “Good thing I am leaning against this wall. Genius.”

But then just as the train slams to a stop I hear this voice through an intercom saying quite gruffly, “What’s your problem?”.

I kept on urinating for at least another 5 seconds before I figured out that the “voice” might just be directed at me. Maybe. I pushed off the wall and instantly saw I had been leaning quite intently on the emergency help button and freaked out. “OMG! I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to push that. I was just leaning…oh god…Sorry!”

The voice at the other end said, quite a bit more gruffly, “Yeah…alright.” And then the train started moving again.

So I didn’t get to finish my pee and had to cross my legs all the way to Caboolture. I guess that was justice.

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And so I made it eventually to Ormiston, at about 8pm — only about 3 hours after I had planned! But I got to the restaurant just before the main courses and just before the bottle-shop closed – so all was good!

And here are the birthday girls — all born a day apart (just different years) — plus the birthday cake.

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