3 Alleycats, meeting a hero, crashes and a massive balloon

Sorry for being MIA for the past few days but it’s been a BIG week.
In point form the last few days looked like this:

1) Three alleycats in the space of 4 days
2) Over my biking career I’ve been hit by 3 cars, one motorbike and now, I can include being hit by another bike to that tally
3) Meeting my blogging/biking hero Andy White
4) Pushies galore and leading a bike ride out to the Holland Park site
5) Getting intimate with a giant balloon

So I’ll start with the alleycats.

#1 OFF THE GRID

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Wednesday night was a special “couriers” race call Off the Grid to farewell Simon and Declan who were going overseas. Organised by Brett, it was just 5 checkpoints where you were given an address and had to note down a number posted at that address. It was all over so quickly. I am not good at the short courses. I knew I had no chance of winning but I rode with a degree of purpose so it was rather fun hooking the wrong way down Edward Street and at one point having a guy in a business suit let out a tiny scream and dive out of my way. Yeah. I was a “bike jerk” — but it was only for those very few minutes, and it doesn’t happen often. I figure the world can forgive me for these brief transgressions.

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Brett doing his best to pose handing out the manifests 

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What the manifests look like at the end

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Shirts didn’t bother with the manifest, he wrote all that data down on his right leg

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Anyway I almost came last but I wasn’t too concerned.

#2 FRIDAY THE 13TH

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Dayne (pictured in the doorway above with Erik and Nate) set this ‘cat up. It was shitty-wet all day, just like it had been all week. I rolled the short distance to the start after work and was drenched already. Not so much from the rain sprinkling down, but the grime and slush from below.

There was a big turnout — maybe 20 riders. Dayne looked worried as he came up to me and asked if I thought it should be called it off. I suggested we go for a “ride” to Toowong cemetery or Dutton Park cemetery. And I asked Shirts what he thought and he said, “Well, you run a race in these conditions and there’s definitely going to be a crash.” And I thought, “That’s rather pessimistic,” but as it turns out Dayne decided to run a cut-down race and there were FOUR crashes! I think that is a record for any alleycat I have raced in or have known about in Brisbane. (And the first Bridges of Brisbane was run just after a big shower with 0 crashes.)

Naturally one of those crashes involved me — despite the fact I had decided I wasn’t actually “racing” — just riding along and doing the checkpoints (which involved photographing something at a particular “creepy” location.) I found myself riding down Elizabeth on the way to checkpoint one and I was quite surprised to see Shirts who was also just rolling. I can’t tell you how profound that is because I have only ever seen Shirts fleetingly at the beginning of a race and at the very end when I arrive at the finish to see him looking fresh and unflustered like he’d been sitting there for hours waiting for everyone else to show up. (Which is actually not that much of an exaggeration).

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This bit where I cam upon Shirts was such an important moment I took a photo and then we had a corner coming up and I didn’t have time to stow the camera safely in a pocket so I carried the camera by its strap with my teeth. Will never do that again. Ow!

Consequently a few of the newbie riders had hooked up with us and the first 2 checkpoints down we found ourselves on the Victoria Bridge and I was overtaking the cars who had piled up on their right and I was going at about 15ks/hr when the gap I was intending to go through disappeared as the cars started moving so I had to slow to get a new opportunity and at that moment I heard this evil squelch of tyre and water and sliding and then BANG — me and my bike bounce a metre forward but manage to stay upright. i expected to hear the bike behind crunch onto the road but miraculously he stayed upright too and instead I hear this, “Oh sorry dude.”

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Shane all recovered from his crash and Shirts on Annerley Road.

The bike was still rolling true and nothing felt wrong so I kept going but I quietly put some distance between me and my surprise assailant, learning my lesson.

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Riding home in the rain! 

At the end I asked the guy jokingly what happened and I had assumed he had gone flush into my rear tyre but he said (to my horror) that he had slid straight into my drive-side spokes. Oh. So it was quite a miracle he missed my ridiculously expensive rear derailleur and didn’t dislodge any spokes — perhaps one of the most delicate of all materials on a bike. Amazing.

So I came third in this race which was perplexing. I didn’t even try and it’s even more perplexing considering the races I put some effort into, I will consistently perform appallingly in.

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The other crashes included Shane going sideways and sliding up next to two old women who asked if he was ok and were quite surprised when he jumped back on the bike and said all was good. “Boy you are tough!” they said. Another dude binned it almost  within the first minute and from all reports it was epic. Adding to his woes his bag and all it’s contents exploded all over the road at the same time. Poor dude.

The last crash was a dude on a brand new Bridgestone frame who lost it going down the Duttonberg.

#3 GLOBALGUTZ

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Global Gutz is a worldwide 21km courier race held at the same time in cities all over the world. Because we are at the arse-end of the world, our race started at 10pm. Not being a courier I couldn’t contribute to the posted times, but I was welcome to participate and as it turns out was eligible for the prizes.

The last Global Gutz was shut down by Queensland’s finest in a show of force that bike riders around the world were thoroughly shocked by. It just happened a film crew was there to document it and I doubt people would have believed us had there not been footage of it. Here’s the link.

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So from 5pm a few of us had been at the launch of Pushies Galore (which I will explain later) and about 8:30 we smashed over to Breakfast Creek Hotel for the meetup. I had put on my “potato” — the Areospoke — just for old times, but it looked stupid and I ended up being a bit embarrassed. Whatever. Here it is: the Potato Rides Again!

Pretty soon we were underneath a massive overpass and lining up to start. I was fiddling around with my camera and wasn’t quite ready for the start so I missed the ‘Train’ as it launched of. The ‘Train’ was everyone who could hanging onto Shirts’ wheel so he could lead everyone to the best time possible. Scott had gone to the effort of putting time-trail bars on his bike.

Meanwhile it became obvious I wasn’t taking things seriously enough and when I casually took up a starting position at the back and took an eternity to get my left leg clipped in I looked up and everyone was unfathomably way ahead. I smashed and smashed trying to catch up but apart from the stragglers, the lead-train were soon gone. It was no use.

The roads out here are DARK, REMOTE, but quite flat/ It was wet and the shoulders covered in gravel and loose soil which were only perceptible at the very last second. The wind was a mystery — sometimes it felt like it was your friend but mostly not.

And even though I buried myself I could only see the lead group in the distance — just these tiny red flashes getting further and further away. Eventually I picked up a few of those who had dropped off and some that had grabbed my wheel as I overtook and we formed a group of four.

And we worked together and weren’t far behind the lead group at the turnaround point. A bit later we lost one of our crew and then we mistook a checkpoint for the end, but it was actually 5kms from the finish. Then it was just Nick and me and we actually stopped at Racecourse Road because I was convinced we could hook up and draft a car, but it was not to be and we lost quite a bit of time. Oh well.

So Nick and I got a time of 33:58mins (i think). The lead time was 30:08 and was apparently a new record — so good work dudes. My Garmin said we had down an average speed of 36.3km/hr which I think is pretty good considering I smashed out 2 riverloops already that day and smashed quite a few beverages. WOAH. That night in bed when I started cramping I realised quite how hard it is to be forever in the redzone for 30+ minutes.

MEETING ANDY WHITE (FYXOMATOSIS)

So one of the guest speakers at the launch of Pushies Galore (a bicycle swap meet/trade show and show and tell) was a dude called Andy who runs this blog which I guess got famous with his photographic portraits of hot girls and bikes, and kinda progressed from “an arty page 3 vibe” to quite serious photography of bikes — which is not easy (bike photography I mean). And nowadays he also makes a living from the blog, plus selling bikes and merch and he also runs a massive annual bike race called Melburn Roobaix — modelled on the French one day Classic (which I am informed had around 2000 participants this year — quite an effort).

I am a big fan. I cannot put it any other way. And that might not be that cool within some of the community, but I don’t care. I think he is wise, he doesn’t just likes bikes, he actually RIDES them, and he has been through some serious TRIALS. If you want to know a bit about him watch this video. It is 50 minutes long but it is all gold.

So naturally I was a bit weak at the knees in his presence. And I arrived almost dead on 5pm for the start just a bit too eager and because it hadn’t officially started I sat down and smashed a beer in the bowls club bar, just chatting with the old bowls fellas still in their whites. And then Andy came in just as we were talking about the Tour and suddenly this old fellow was just yabbering incessantly at Andy and not really letting anyone get a word in.

So after about 5 minutes of that ranting I jumped up and said, “Andy, let me show you my bike.” And Andy was like, “Gotta go see this bike” and as we walked out I said, “I didn’t really want to show you my bike I just wanted to rescue you” and Andy was like, “Yeah, thanks!”

And so just at that moment Scott and Dan and Red had arrived. And we all had a bit of a chat at the bike rack and then back in the hall Scott went up to me and assumed this “yukky-voice” like he was pretending to mimic me, “OHHHH, Let me show you my bike! I love you Andy. OMG!” And I protested, “It wasn’t like that at all!” But it was no use. But he was right — I was just being a hopeless fan-boy but at the same time really, really trying to keep my cool. I am pretty sure I did not succeed.

LEADING THE GROUP RIDE

A few weeks ago Gavin Bannerman — who had established “Pushies Galore” — asked me to lead a group ride to the Sunday section — the main event. I accepted just thinking no big deal and not really knowing what to expect. But when I had said “yes” I didn’t realise I would be racing an extremely late, and INTENSE, alleycat the night before. Waking up today was so, so tough.

But I got up all fuzzy and somehow made it to Cup in West End with enough time to grab a coffee and chat to Andy and Mick (from Busyman who is also one of my heroes). And apart from telling them about the alleycat last night and thus having to describe who and what “Shirts” was — I started telling them about the Patrick Mayne story.

And because I wanted to take them on a bit of a tour of the river before we headed out to Holland Park. We had quite a contingent, maybe 20 of us. Going that slow with my “Ambassador of Brisbane hat” on I got to see things about these routes I’d never noticed before because I am usually smashing through and plus you get a bit blinkered about your hometown sometimes. Like I see tourists in Brisbane — quite a recent phenomenon — and I think “why?”. But then I realise we have a very beautiful city, especially for riding. I was talking to Andy about our hills and I said we were ironically quite privileged to have these hills. Flat cities are boring cities to ride in. It is as simple as that.

And so the ride ended up being about 20km and we arrived about 10 minutes late but no one seemed too worried. This was mostly because of my detour to the underneath of the south side of the Story Bridge where I told everyone about how this was the site where Patrick Mayne had dismembered the body of the man he had just murdered for his fortune.

Pushies Galore pics from Saturday night and today, Sunday:

Gavin Bannerman and his show! Well done dude!

Andy being accosted!

Bennett with his art

Busyman’s saddles

Scott…Really?

Andy gushing over Craig’s Ken Evans. He promised to show Ken the pic! “He loves seeing pics of his old bikes!”

The kids section. Hilarious!

Marty always brings the LOLs!

BALLOONS

The final thing I want to discuss is the fact I have been working hard on this massive protest against the Newman government’s job cuts which is happening tomorrow. It has been very dark days here in Brisbane in the public service with pretty much every temporary worker losing their job. There are stories about worksites with endless farewell morning teas and I know first hand about many, many tears shed in workplaces. There has been literally weeping going on.

So we are going all out tomorrow and this bad-boy has taken some thought and logistics to be realised in that public context — like it takes over an hour to inflate, and just as long to deflate. MORE ON THIS TO COME!

BONUS PICS

Josh reading out Globalgutz results

Brotherly love!

Global Gutz victors

Leaving Holland Park Bowls club

2 thoughts on “3 Alleycats, meeting a hero, crashes and a massive balloon

  1. Pingback: Pushies Galore 2012 - Page 8

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