Since He Started to Ride (Pt 2)

Part one is here.

CHARITY

The first group ride I ever did was a charity ride organised by a former boss of mine and it introduced me to the wonders of sucking the wheels of a group — or “drafting” as it is better known. I was pedalling along on my own, in quite a bit of pain, when without much warning about 20 other riders just swarmed around me and I tried not to panic as I became part of that entity (but also NOT a willing part of that performance) — so I slowly filtered my way to the back of that group but for some reason I decided to stay in touch, just behind the last two riders. And it was then that I realised how much easier it instantly got, just being dragged along by a bike-riding black hole. It seemed I was constantly soft-pedalling or squeezing the brakes on downhills so I didn’t go crashing into their backs.

But of course this was simply a clear illustration of one of bike riding’s most interesting facets — on a flat surface you expend more effort pushing through atmosphere than actually keeping you and the bike rolling.

This is a collage of the awkward professional-photos they take at these events and put thumbnails up on the web for you to perhaps buy. Embarrassing.

A COMPUTER TELLING ME I WAS ABOUT TO DIE

Before Garmins the best computer you could get was the Polar CS200. It measured the usual things like distance and speed but it also had a heart rate monitor. And to set up the monitor you plug in your age and weight and height and stuff. But I hardly ever used it, except for this one time when I strapped it on and went out on an early morning mash. It was a Saturday and I was coming down Old Northern Road at Everton Park (which is a dual carriage way) and there were hardly any cars about and just at the top of the hill there the shoulder disappears so I had to move into the lane and this Tarago beeped at me in such hostility as it went past and I was naturally pissed off at this mindless aggression so I started chasing. Down the hill I went and almost effortlessly smashed up and around so I was alongside the driver’s window and I screamed at him, “WTF?”

Then I hear this insane beeping, even though I was going at 60km/hr — a speed at which the wind tends to deafen you. And so I realise it is coming from my bike computer and it’s telling me my heart rate is over 180 — which is pretty damn high and possibly higher than the maximum for someone at my age. OK. Slow down Davey! In that state I still managed to overtake the Tarago — just coasting — and in doing so I underlined my point, even if it did have that beeping nonsense as an accompaniment.

FIRST CRASH/FIRST SCABS

My first crash happened not long after I started riding seriously — but I just had to get it out of the way. It is a little bit of a mystery as to what exactly was the cause. All I can say is that it was a wet day, I was jumping from the road onto the footpath up a tiny lip in a driveway and at that point the bike slid from under me and I was sideways.

The mystery part is I then noticed the bike had a flat rear tyre so whether that happened as a result of the crash or contributed to the crash — I don’t know. But I will also say this — all this happened in the middle of town while everyone was rushing to work so consequently I had a billion people who witnessed me looking like a douchecanoe. Yay.

The best part of this whole affair was road rash. I love picking at scabs. I think I must have a very mild form of dermatillomania.

CENTURIES

The next goal for me was a “century” — 100kms in one day — a purely symbolic achievement. As a fail-safe to my extreme pussyness I decided to ride as far away from home as possible so I couldn’t just give up when things got tough after halfway. So I made it to Ipswich one afternoon and then turned around and only just made it back home before it got dark. I had really underestimated how long this would take. And it was a tough ride, with all the hills in the latter half tackled in the grannyiest of my granny-gears. I suffered and suffered and had to constantly rest — which isn’t surprising because I remember I hardly ate anything on that ride. Proper nutrition while riding is a bike lesson I refused to learn for years and years and years. I am such an idiot.

Oh god. Look how fucked that geometry was. I was such a deadshit. (But in saying this the wheelbase wasn’t as bad as it looked – the downtube was just at an evil angle)

FIXED

Pretty soon I decided to build my own bike and so I bought an old Malvern Star frame from eBay and set about transforming it into a fixed wheel. (See above) My motivation wasn’t to be cool or hipster or whatever (I wasn’t really even aware of that emerging scene) — I just wanted to build something retro-classic and because I had exactly ZERO skills at bike building — a fixed wheel was the easiest place to start. I was also a big fan of Sheldon Brown who had written a series of articles about bikes and riding that taught me a great, great deal. And Sheldon, who died not long after that, loved riding fixed. So I was keen to also give the process a try.

So I bought tools and then all the parts I needed and I assembled what I could and when it all got too hard I took it to the bike shop across from work to finish. And then I went for my first ride through the city fixed. On that short cruise I made all those rookie mistakes — like trying to coast and getting that “shock” and taking a foot off its pedal and not being able to get it back on etc.

But it was exciting and challenging and made overtaking other bikes much more gratifying. So I started doing all my commuting fixed and saving the roadie for weekends.

POTATOS

The Malvern Star soon got replaced by a bike built in Brisbane — a white Berretto and meanwhile I started reading some fixed blogs and I was really influenced by what was happening in Japan — with their colour mashups, asymmetry and general wackiness. That’s when I ordered a white aerospoke for the Berretto. Only about 2 weeks later I rocked up to race in an alleycat for the first time.

I was petrified at the thought of racing and really only turned up just to watch. Bizarrely I actually knew three people there already. There was Marty and Ranga Dave who I had randomly said hello to (cause they were also riding fixed) just rolling around town, plus I knew Erik from Brisbane’s first fixed-centric bike store — Gear. So I had someone to talk to and people to allay my fears and insist I have a go. The other cool thing about that night was the fact it was tag-team and I was teamed up with someone you all might be familiar with — Shirts — also racing for the first time.

The story of that race is told below.

After that race I was dubbed “Potato Dave” because there were too many other “Daves” and that’s what Aerospokes are semi-affectionately known as here in Australia.

MASHING

Alleycat at Surfers Paradise.

A whole bunch of things happened now. Suddenly I had a whole crew of awesome new friends who were all quite rock n roll. And soon I was unashamedly proud to be a bike rider. It wasn’t just a hobby and a way to get to work and back — it was a new lifestyle. You could ride bikes and be not be naff and boring. And I didn’t care what my other friends in rock n roll felt. Indeed — many of them soon started getting into bikes too.

A bike tower pile after an alleycat

And so I hardly touched my road bike. It literally gained a layer of dust. I still did long distance rides — but I did them fixed – including a 200km to the Gold Coast and back in March 2010. I also got into the bike polo scene and I gave that a go a few times but I sucked so bad I gave up and just came to hang out and watch. For a while I knew 90% of the fixed gear community and if I didn’t know them I still waved when we passed.

And then I organised my own alleycat. I loved alleycats so much I organised it so I could race in it too. And each and every one of the ‘cats I have run since have been designed so that I could ride too.

AN UGLINESS

Just a few weeks ago Tom was hit by a driver in a car that cowardly fled the scene. Tim, one of my besties, got car-doored earlier this year. And on top of that I have witnessed Ryan knocked over and even been there when Shirts got cleaned up by an idiot pedestrian crossing the road without looking. On top of that it seems a few months cannot pass without me hearing of one of my friends involved in some sort of drama.

But back in those heady days when I was just starting out, while I was hyperaware of what Bike Snob NYC calls “the indignity of cycling” I was still a bit oblivious to the “tragedy of cycling” and consequently a bit cavalier about it all.

And this attitude prevailed even though from stories told to me by other riders and reading other accounts on forums and blogs — and just the many, many close calls I had personally experienced in the short time I had been riding seriously — I quickly realised it might not just be a matter of “if” I would be hit by a car — it just could be a matter of “when”.

And when that day came — it was a particularly ugly, ugly incident. I was riding along a 3 lane road, and I was in the shoulder, when a car “buzzed” me as close as he could and the driver leant on the horn at the same time. I was infuriated and charged on and very soon caught up with the vehicle at a set of lights. I pulled in front and just glared at the driver and shook my head. Then the lights changed and I pushed off owning the lane and he managed to get around me and just as he got past he swung the rear of his car directly into me and sent me crashing into the road. I tumbled for a bit then came to a definite stop. I lay there with my face against the bitumen in the middle of that massive intersection of Newmarket and Enoggera Road for at least 10 seconds not really sure what to do.

I didn’t feel particularly in any danger because the world around me had froze as well. Although I looked up for a second and saw his car speed off — every other car, bus and truck stopped like they were hit by a comic-book immobilisation/freeze ray. And then someone pressed “play” and the world started moving again as a few people who had got out of their cars swarmed over to me and I got up and carried my bike to the footpath and said I was ok. I mean — I was bleeding and bruised and the bike was a bit of a mess — but I was OK. Mostly it was shock. I put the bike back together as best I could and rode home and reported the incident still covered in blood and road grime at the Valley police station. I managed to get a few bits of the number plate and the make and colour of the car but the cops were useless. They refused to do a wildcard number plate search and generally treated me in a callous and uncaring manner — even insinuating it was my fault. Thanks.

OTHER BAD STUFF

Of course I got hit by cars again and again — and one motorbike just to make things more interesting. Each and every one of those incidents involved the other vehicle turning into me from the right with the driver failing to look properly and it mostly just knocked me over without much damage — but once one of those collisions sent me to hospital on my very first trip in an ambulance. Maybe I will document that story another time.

But I’m still here. And despite all that evil drama — I love bikes so much this bullshit hasn’t broken me. And perhaps it has just made the right side of my body just that bit tougher.

Taken on my hospital bed

BIKE TOURING

That’s Ryan just behind Shirts in front

And one Saturday morning I met a dude called Ryan at that square at the top of the Queen Street Mall with some silly name. It was just Gypsy, me and him on a ride to Scarborough and I’d just accidentally joined it after seeing the proposition posted in our fixed forum. And I had no idea that day I would meet one of my bestest friends ever. We all went for a very ordinary ride and that was that. But I soon realised Ryan was one of the true believers in this burgeoning crew. He was organised and wanted to improve our skills. He would turn up and he could suffer. On top of all that he got inspired and it was Ryan that made me do things that I never thought possible and all this improved my life exponentially.

Ryan rode fixed for a while, then bought a road bike and I dusted off my Trek so I could hit the mountains with him and just keep up. And it was then that I started dividing my time between fixed and road biking again.

Ryan soon had this idea to do an “overnight ride”. He planned it all. We would ride the 180+ kms to Byron Bay on the Saturday morning, then the next day hit the hills that surrounded there (about 140ks) , then ride home on the Monday. I decided to get on board. This would be the toughest thing I have ever done — and I say this despite the fact I could do that ride without as much suffering now — but back then it was at the very limit of my abilities and fucking, fucking hurt. And to add the conditions were appalling: torrential rain for the first two days, then the hottest day of that new Spring the last. This, again, is another story for another blog.

But when I got home it was like heaven. It felt just like when I had first summited Coot-Tha, except with far, far more pain. I wanted to tell the world. Once I got back to Brisbane it was just after 5pm and there were bikes everywhere. Even though I was cramping up and so, so very weak, I looked around at every opportunity to tell someone my story. Eventually, just metres from home, this unsuspecting douche-bag rolled up to me at lights and the poor dude had his ear torn off. I told as much of the story as I could in the 1-2 minutes we had waiting for the light to change.

We have done many more of these rides including one to Woodenbong in northern NSW which sent me to the darkest, deepest depths of the pain cave — and where I was scraping the bottom and my brain wondered if it got any worse, I just might need medical intervention or worse. And naturally that ride took a chip out of my resolve to do these sorts of things ever again. Luckily I realised what had gone wrong — the intense heat had just sapped all my hydration and sent me into epic organ-meltdown. But once again, this is a story for later.

OVERSEAS

In 2010 I bought a bike bag and took a bike with me on a trip to the States and Canada. It never made it past the 14 days in New York because I mailed it home deciding I loved it too much and it had suffered enough and would get killed with any more transit. But that fortnight in New York riding around on my own bike just felt like bliss. It was my muse for my photographs of NY and the mashing through traffic over there, and the riding in general, was so different — it just opened my eyes. It was like bike-drugs. It felt so different, so intense and there were so many people witnessing it — it was like you were in your very own movie.

GARMIN and 2012

I’ve talked about my Garmin so much already and will link to stories soon. But it really did transform my riding. It made me conscious of what I was doing and made me strive for to achieve more. I set that goal of 10,000kms in a year and got there. And halfway through that year I decided to attempt 100,000ms climbed too — and got there with a massive effort in the fading light of 2011 spending so much time on Coot-Tha I felt like a local.

And just yesterday I signed up to Strava and I had no idea what it really meant until now. So that is going to be another albatross around my neck. Any Strava segment I run through I will be conscious of and just might need to bust-a-move, which might have consequences later.

So we come to 2012 and there has again been many achievements. But they are already documented so I’ll just link to a few selected highlights like:

1) The new Felt

2) The big wet ride

3) The Toowoomba Tour ONE | TWO

4) The Nambour Ride

5) Noosa overnighter

Shirts: Photo by Ranga Dave

THE NIGHT I FIRST MET “SHIRTS”

So Saturday evening Dee and I walked up to New Farm and the mood was somber – mostly on my part. I was shitting my pants. I had no idea what to expect tonight except it would somehow involve racing my fixie around town going from check point to check point. And my legs were sore. I had ridden up Mt Coot-tha that afternoon and my legs hated me. Eventually I made up my mind just to watch.

But when we arrived at the Alibi there were a few bikes there already and luckily one guy called Marty (who I had met at a bike shop a few months ago when he stopped to admire my bike) gave me more of an idea what to expect and said because it was tag-team that would make it easier and more of a “fun” format.

After dinner I couldn’t sit down – I was too nervous. Before I knew it I had paid my five bucks to enter and fate was sealed. I was given position “8” (which was eerily empty) because someone had refused that spot cause he thought it was unlucky. Eek!

Everyone was looking at my bike which was pimped out with a new aerospoke front wheel. They call them “potatoes”. I don’t know why.

Soon it was time for the briefing. Names were drawn out of a hat and I was paired with a guy called Nate [SHIRTS!] who looked VERY keen to win. In fact one of my friend’s actually said to me before the race – “He looks like he’s in-it-to-win-it!”. Like she was saying – “Get ready to be decimated”.

I took a deep breath. I knew I had to ride EVEN faster not to let this guy down. And I had no idea how my skillz matched with these dudes. I mean, I ride my bike quite a bit, but I am pretty much a pussy when it comes to the crunch. SHIIIIT. So there were four manifests – messenger-talk for pick-up and delivery points – but each rider would do only two of those, plus a 5th manifest which the two teamed-up bike riders would do together. But interestingly all the teams would be split 4 ways so that not all riders would be riding to the same checkpoint at the same time. (Except the last one)

On top of this there was a secret something to “do” at each checkpoint. So we got our first manifest and Nate was going first. His mission involved going to the city botanical gardens and scoring a goal. (We guessed it had something to do with bike polo).

So he was away and riding blindingly fast up Brunswick oblivious to traffic and danger. “Oh fuck,” I thought. “Oh FUCKING, FUCKING FUCK.”

Soon riders were coming back and tagging their teammates but I guessed these crews had shorter checkpoints. Then I saw a bike hurtling towards us at a speed one might seriously consider was literally “BREAK-NECK”. He was now on the wrong side of the road. “Oh shit…that’s Nate,” I realised.

He did this massive skid perfectly coming to a stop right in front of the guys handing out the manifests, adding to my woes. I got the next manifest and saw that it was Doggett street in the Valley. That’s all I read and started caning it down the road. I decided to avoid Brunswick to avoid lights and traffic. Soon I was at Doggett but the street was deserted. I looked at the map again and hunted down the street in a panic. Again I stopped and re-read the map. Fuck! I had missed the words “laneway”. Then I saw it and almost at the end I saw some women drinking beside a pile of shoeboxes. This was it! I said hello, they said they liked my bike, I said “Thanks!” and took my box and was off – back to the Alibi.

Nate’s next mission was somewhere on the Story Bridge. I moped around thinking I had blown it spending so much time in Doggett Street and being so silly as to not read the manifest properly. Soon riders were saying the cops had set up a patrol at each end of Brunswick Street to catch anyone running lights.

But before I had too much time to worry Nate had returned. I grabbed the next manifest and saw that it was on Melbourne Street in West End – the Gear shop. I knew where this was and bang! I smashed it up Brunswick heading for Ann. I actually overtook a rider up Brunswick which raised my spirits that just maybe we wouldn’t come last. [PLEASE GOD – CAN WE NOT BE LAST]

I got a pretty good run of green lights though I took one just a few seconds after it turned red and prayed that no cops were about. I filtered through the taxis and dodged peds and soon I was on my way down Ann. I jumped up onto the footpath at Town Hall to avoid a red and snuck in front of a bus at George. Then I rested a bit at the intersection near the Treasury and the Victoria bridge.

Down Melbourne Street I got another good set of green and was at Gear in no time. The task here was to snort a line of whizz fizz. Erik took a photo and stamped my manifest and then I was away. Up Melbourne I wondered about which way to get back and instantly just decided to go up Elizabeth. There was no debate. It was just the first route that came into my head. I got hit with heaps of red but took the time to rest. I was red-lining and pretended the break was necessary. Every second I was spinning I was spinning at 100 per cent. Then I suddenly saw the Ivory Street tunnel and decided to take it. I’d never gone this way before but hell – this was an alleycat: all rules were gone. It turned out to be Genius! It was deserted and soon I was in Moray Street but feeling DESTROYED. The hill after the tunnel was BRUTAL. For the first time in my life I was so buggered (no matter how much I wanted to) I couldn’t get out of the saddle.

but then I got some rest on the quiet streets downhill. When I got to the Alibi I was just barely able to stand without wobbling but managed to hand my manifest to Nate and he sorted out getting the final mission. That 10 or 15 seconds of rest was all I got and then we were away heading for Breakfast Creek. Nate let me navigate and we went through the Emporium carpark and dodged a few deadshit cars and turned right into Wickham. As I glanced up Wickham I saw a bunch of fixies heading our way at serious speed. SHIT!

Through the next light Nate took over navigating and suddenly he was turning right up THE steepest hill and my heart sank. I thrashed away at my bike but halfway up I was suddenly going nowhere so I jumped off and ran my bike up. Luckily the checkpoint was at the top and ranga-dave stamped my hand and we turned around. We were in the lead as the other fixies were still climbing up!

I didn’t have time to slip either of my shoes into my cages so as I cornered the clips scraped along the bitumen – scrape, scrape, scrape with each revolution of the cranks.

Then we were back on Doggett and we looked back and no one was following. Maybe they had taken a different route. On James we looked back again and the road was empty, but we rode hard still. Then we were on Annie which has a huge dip in the middle. Spinning like crazy at about 60kms an hour we pulled up outside the Alibi and threw our bikes down and handed in our papers.

I collapsed on the road. Then Nate came up to me and said we had won. WTF!??! No way – that’s crazy! On my first alleycat? There were many high fives and tales about eachother’s individual missions. Nate had had to chugg a beer on the Story Bridge and then had hit his head running up some stairs. Ow.

My friends brought me water and beer and then it became clearer that we had indeed came first. It took about 30 minutes for the other teams to all finish and then we had a presentation. Nate and I won 50 bucks on the bar and some Vans from Apartment in the city. Swt.

Me on extreme left

 

 

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