Bridges Alleycat Report (and Crabon Fail)

It’s been a feast of alleycats of late and the latest was Bridges of Brisbane 3.

The idea here was to visit 8 of Brisbane’s bridges choosing your own route and the order and noting down some clue at a specific spot or doing some activity with the checkpoint person at the 3 bridges that had someone there to greet you.

There was only really two choices about the order — clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Upon some discussion with Scott and Shirts about the fact the Story Bridge checkpoint was on the footpath on the eastern side I changed my original plan and decided to go counter-clockwise.

But as it turns out that was all moot as I DNF‘d. But more on that later.

It was a simultaneous mass-start and I smashed off with what seemed like two-thirds of the 20ish participants and got a decent run all the way to the ‘Swamp Bridge’ at Stones Corner to find it without its appointed caretaker. It seems Marty had got a bit excited and went past this bridge to take up a lonely position on a different bridge 1km further down the road. LOL.

So the 8 or so of us in this bewildered daze eventually just decided to push on. On O’Keefe Street Shirts and Scott went straight ahead (they’d worked out a shortcut) while I led everyone else along the bikepath. They put at least 30 seconds on us with this little trick which Shirts told me later he had thoroughly researched including investigating elevation differences.

Meanwhile I felt my saddle behaving oddly. It seemed I was slipping forward but I dismissed it as just the fact I had knicks under my shorts. At the other side of the Eleanor Schonell Bridge Shirts was already caning it back towards the city with Scott just behind. Kristine gave us all a peg (which I attached to a brake-lever) and we pressed on.

It was just Jordy, me and Red at the top of Annerley Road and I told everyone to grab my wheel cause with gears I could be better use to the group on this downhill. And on the Goodwill Bridge I jumped off the bike to find the clue we had to note down and it was then I felt my saddle was actually bending. Not good. Instantly I knew it was too dangerous to continue racing so the others rode off and I wondered what to do. The saddle was cracked in several places but seemed like it was stable enough to make it back to Dan and Kath’s at the start/finish.

But it was hard to go from “race-face” to a boy with a broken bike limping home — especially when everyone else was out there having so much fun — so I decided to go to the Story Bridge checkpoint and wait for Shirts. So I rolled off via the Kangaroo Point cliffs and waited about 5 or 6 minutes and then followed him back from there. I smashed out of the saddle almost the whole way but it hurt so much trying to rest your legs just standing on the pedals. OW. We both got a great run and negotiated the final tricky bit — getting across Shafston Road (which has this huge traffic island in the middle) — with the help of a green light and no traffic on the wrong side of the road (which we took for 2 blocks).

Shirts got a time of around 35 minutes — which I think was quicker than the time Declan did when he won the first Bridge Battle when there was only 6 bridges to visit.

Red, who came second, told us later he had run across 6 lanes of road at the northern end of the Story Bridge amidst honking and general craziness. I would have killed to see this!

Naturally I got rather wasted at the end and was rolling around the ground at several points in fits of laughter and at one point jumped over the fire attempting to do a heal-click as I did so. I was informed later that lycra is highly flammable and that possibly wasn’t a great idea. “Ok,” I said.

Of note when I attempted said “over-the-fire-heel-click” I actually missed my left heel and instead took a big chunk of skin out of my ankle — which was only noticeable when it started hurting like a motherfucker when I got home and into bed. Oh Davey, when will you learn?

So sorry about the poor quality of the photos. The little camera isn’t that great at low-light shots and plus I got a bit too fascinated by the fire in the state I was in.

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Checkpoint Marty!

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ImageThis is BEFORE and below is AFTER:Image

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Why I Like Brisbane

I just asked Dee why she liked Brisbane and she said “Triple M”.

“Fair enough,” I said**. But perhaps, just for your sake, I’ll delve a tad deeper into why this town has a hold over me.

Although I wasn’t born here, this is where I grew up. (Forgiving the fact I spent 6ish years in Sydney for a tiny bit of primary and all of high school.) And so I was born 45kms away in Ipswich, and Ipswich has, and continues to be, a big part of my life – but my earliest memories are here. Brisbane.

My Nanna’s house on Whitehill Road – where my mum grew up and I spent many Christmases and weekends and days during my infancy. 

It was, and still is, cool to diss Brisbane. And I am not going to try to defend this town. But below I will just try to focus on the positives.

WHY GOOD PEOPLE LEAVE

A good bunch of people choose to leave Brisbane. I am told it used to be far worse. Before the Internet and the Giant Kangaroo at the Commonwealth Games and the GO-CARD it was incredibly hard to be different in Brisbane. We had a horribly corrupt government, we had no venues and no real interest in progressiveness.

But then there was the 4Corners story, the Fitzgerald Inquiry, the Goss Government, an incredible interstate migration (from NSW and VIC) and even EXPO 88! (Whose influence is totally understated).

And so in this context we all grew up. But still there was, and continues, a culture of exodus. I know in America (a much more de-centralised society than here) there is a cultural impetus that kids go away to another town for college. That rite of passage – means just that – passage. Movement.

So perhaps this is Brisbane being ahead of the rest of Australia. After all – Queensland is the most de-centralised State in Australia.

Thus – most of the people I have known that have left here – they leave for Melbourne (About 2000 kms south in the state of Victoria). And I know this may be controversial – but a lot of those people left knowing (and having the saftey-net of knowing) that there was a whole big bunch of other Brisbane people in Melbourne. It seems like Melbourne, just like other major capitals was growing a micro-nation – a “Little Brisbane”.

So it seems the rest have left for London and a few have gone to Sydney and the last smattering have disappeared for other far reaches of the world. And it should be said, one or two friends have left for regional places in Queensland.

And so I’ve thought about leaving, and sometimes really, really wanted to. But I’ve stuck by this city.

In my heart of hearts – I am quite sure I am here cause I have historically been a pussy. An utter deadshit, completely petrified of change. But now I am older, not so weak and worried, I will try to tell you why I am glad I have stayed (-so far*).

THE RIVER SPREADS THINGS OUT

Apart from the fact we actually have a “River” – not a glorified creek (or in some cities – a drain) I think the way our River snakes it’s way through the city – although it cuts it in two – the River’s meander splays the appeal. It’s almost democratic. It doesn’t immediately look that photogenic or compressed. But then you get a new vista around every corner and it’s a tale that keeps on giving. To me a city like Sydney has no choice but to put all its eggs into one basket. This makes for amazing scenery, but it’s just too much, and too much ALL the time. And this also creates such rich property. The best views of Sydney are owned by stupidly rich people and us plebs only get to glimpse them as you battle traffic, or squint through dirty train windows as you cross the Harbour Bridge. That is – unless you travel by bike.

BRIDGES ARE COOL

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Various views of Brisbane’s first bridge: Victoria. Destroyed three times, twice by floods.

I like bridges. They are big, grand and take some skills to build. They are like artificially perfect hills and give you altitude and generally awesome (and exposed) views and although I think our bridges here in Brisbane are horribly ordinary – their essence is still cool. Even in this modern, increasingly-sterilised and homogenised city we live in – they still connect two very different worlds. The journey across the Victoria Bridge (the very first bridge in Brisbane) from south to north is still a revelating “journey” even though I do it almost every single day. The view of the city upon this approach is quite inspiring.

Indeed one side of every single bridge in Brisbane is very different to the other. So one side is one world, and the other side is a totally different universe. Trust me.

Brisbane was a product of the River. It is quite bizarre the north-side became the centre of town, because south of the river was where the timber, the civilisation (Sydney etc) and expansion (into central Queensland) was.

I really hope we get another bridge soon. (A mayoral candidate has recently mooted a new pedestrian bridge – maybe from Norman Park to New Farm).

WE IS YOUNG

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Patrick Mayne. The subject of an incredible book. It alleges he murdered and horrifically dismembered a timber-cutter up from northern NSW to spend his new fortune. An early version of the Story Bridge hotel was the setting. Parts of the body ended up in the river, a well and on a gate. Another man was tried and executed for the crime. Mayne then used the proceeds to initially start a butcher shop in Queen Street (where the Brisbane Arcade now stands) – the build a real estate empire in protozoic Brisbane. He was involved in local government then developed a sickness – maybe syphilis – that led him to his death-bed where he apparently confessed to this crime to clergy. The story escaped and that is not the end of the story. Read the book – you will not be disappointed. 

We have very little history, but it’s quite rich. I got utterly mesmerised by the book “The Mayne Inheritance” recently and I am a regular visitor of the blog “Your Brisbane Past and Present”. Amazing.

It is quite bizarre to know we had bomb shelters all down Elizabeth Street, or the money for the land the University of Queensland sits on was almost certainly ultimately sourced by a very heinous murder. And the floods and fires this town has experienced are quite apocalyptic.

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THE BIKE RIDING

I have biked all over the world, (and in Australia), and I am perhaps reluctantly convinced that Brisbane is actually quite blessed. But I qualify that by saying we still have some of the worse drivers anywhere that are so hostile and unconditioned to bicycle traffic. We have that River which gives us that “Riverloop” and the bikeways along it’s reaches. We have bikepaths on all but one bridge crossing. We have Mt Coot-Tha just 7ks from the city for honing our mountain skills. Then we have Nebo for just some more variety. We also have amazing weather for biking. And I say that as a ginger that is quite hopelessly compromised by hot weather. (I am learning to do big rides in winter and shorter, less challenging stuff during summer).

The only thing I lament is we don’t have the multitude of low traffic country roads with crazy scenery about 50kms out of town like Melbourne – something that Andy rubs in all the time!

I HAVE FRIENDS HERE and I have BRISBANE FRIENDS OVERSEAS

Even though I would kill to move away for a while – ultimately – this is where all my friends are. And the friends that have moved away just mean I have someone to party with in some random place on the other side of the world.

And I keep saying this to all that will listen – but the secret of happiness in life is quite simply – human interaction – and lots of it. It can be good or tragic, but usually the good stuff is best. Feeling is important. And Brisbane makes me feel. It incites a reaction in my soul. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. I care about it.

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The Little Lovers “Red Devil” film clip. That’s me on the wall and all our friends dancing around. Good times. 

* I will always covert a dream of living overseas

** FM104: