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:

Time Trial Report

I was pretty anxious all day yesterday.

It wasn’t just the anticipation of the race that evening, it was worrying about everything that could go wrong. And then there was the rain. I am getting used to the fact that every time I run an alleycat it rains. But the rain yesterday was cruel. It would shower, then brilliant blue skies would pop out and things would dry up. But then it would suddenly piss down again.

To kill time and keep busy I went for a walk, hoping a stroll wouldn’t affect my legs. Then I had a meal at about 4 and couldn’t take just sitting around anymore so I went for a 15 km roll, warming up I guess.

I arrived at the race start in Orleigh Park quite early but it wasn’t too long before Shirts pulled up on his TT bike – looking the business. Tegan and Dee were next to show – being the race officials.

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Shirts making adjustments

Then riders and checkpoint personnel started trickling in. At one point Tegan joked we had more people on checkpoints than riders – but thankfully we got a few more punters.

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Tom studying the map

So – as well as Shirts and me there was Tom, Ryan, Jesse, Eddie, Costa, Dougie, Scott and Paul. Scotty arrived in style half hanging out the window of a taxi. (Jordie was running late and had to start after everyone else had gone.)

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Tegan and Dee — timekeeping and adding extra GLAMOUR!

And then, just as it got dark, we were racing. I was the 4th rider out. I tried my best not to start too hard, but I knew I had to be in pain the whole time. It was just deciding what level of pain I could sustain for the next 50 odd minutes. The pros will tell you that to be successful in a time-trial you need to grind at a consistent level. No surging, no crescendo – just a smooth, but agonizing smash. The trouble was I didn’t really know what my specific level of intensity was. And plus there was those two ugly hills right at the end. Tricky.

On Montague I got slowed by a red light and had to crawl around the cars banked up and on the Bicentennial bikepath I had to brake to get around an old dude on a mountain bike and I started wondering if I’d fucked this ride already.

I passed Costa a bit further ahead and then got an early opportunity to jump off the bike path onto the road at Toowong. I even got to draft a car on Benson and then I saw Paul up ahead on Sir Fred Schonell. It took me ages to overtake him and I began to think I was riding pretty poorly. It was too dark to see my Garmin so I was just riding on instinct.

The night before Scotty and Shirts and I had done a gentle riverloop and they had shown me this sneaky trick of taking the wrong way around the roundabout at UQ. And this is how I got the jump on Paul. 🙂

For the rest of the race I tried to smooth out my lines, cutting corners or riding on the wrong side if necessary to gain just that tiny bit more advantage. It was pretty quiet traffic-wise so I could manage this safely. But then I’d forget and I’d do a corner and realise I could have taken a more efficient line and I’d kick myself. “Concentrate Davey!”

Under the green bridge was the first checkpoint covered by Dan and Simon who were enjoying some tasty beverages and looking quite relaxed while I was quite the opposite.

Soon after I eventually got a glimpse of my Garmin under a street light and my average speed was almost 36 so that gave me hope. I needed to average just under 35 to achieve my (quite ambitious) goal of 50 minutes. But then I remembered those hills at the end and the fact I’d be pushing a headwind in the last third.  My legs were in constant pain but my heartrate and breathing weren’t too bad. I could do this!

Near the colleges, in a particularly dark section, a deadshit pedestrian suddenly appeared on the road and I had to swing around him. Douchecanoe! I heard my phone ringing at about this point and answered it thinking it might be important – like someone had gotten into trouble in the race – but it was just my mum. “I’ll call you back!” I shouted.

After the St Lucia moguls there is a nasty pinch and I knew this would be a big indicator of how my legs were going. But I did alright.

Over the race twice an oncoming car was signalling to turn right across my path and I prayed, “Please see me, please see me, please see me!” and both times they did but I still had to rub off some speed just in case they didn’t.

At the tennis centre I sprinted to overtake a car cause cars can’t negotiate speed humps as good as bikes and jumped up onto the bikepath. It was really dark but I knew from the ride last night what to expect here and so could keep up the pace even though I was effectively blind.

And all this time I was wondering, “When am I gonna get overtaken?” And the answer came a few streets later in Yeronga when I sensed my bike lights were being duplicated and before I knew it Shirts blasted past. Lucky for me I didn’t have time to grab his wheel, cause if I had I would have just destroyed myself and burnt out.

Supermanlegs (Paul) and his kids were at the next checkpoint and that done I was on the Corso. I knew I had a bit left so I clicked up a gear and tried to increase the intensity. That lasted about 500 metres and the pain just got too much so I clicked down and prepared for the “Duttonberg” — that hill next to the Green Bridge. PAIN. At the top Simon and Dan had come over from their duties on the other side and Red was with them and they were cheering me on which actually gave me a bit of a lift to keep pushing and pushing.

Highgate Hill was soon summited and I did most of it out of the saddle. I knew if I got to the top here without getting overtaken, I was a 99% chance of holding off anyone trying to overtake me. I looked back and there was no one there. Safe! Down Dornoch there was no coasting…just grinding in the biggest gear I had. A taxi pulled out without looking at the bottom but the braking I had to do didn’t hurt that much as the finish was so close and I could afford to bury myself to sprint back up to speed. Out of the saddle mashing for the last 250 metres was tough but at least it was over.

It was a few minutes before another bike came in and that was the first indication that I might have done ok. So then bikes came in every few minutes and we were soon all swapping stories and slapping each other on the back. Costa was the last one in having got a bit lost. Scotty arrived carrying his bike – a puncture on Corro Dirve ruining his race and Jordie got dropped off by a car. He explained his chain had broke as he was smashing up that hill in St Lucia sending him over the handlebars and a passing motorist had stopped and offered him a lift all the way back!

Also of note – Scott didn’t connect his rear disc properly and so had a bit of a fail when he tried to launch off. Poor Scotty! A tough night for him.

So Tegan and Dee started calculating the results. They had to determine my time by my average speed cause they didn’t realise it was me when I got to the finish. As it turns out the time they awarded me (51:52) was only a few seconds better than what my Garmin told me once I hooked it up to the computer (51:58) and didn’t affect the placings.

So I came second! But I know Jordie and Scott would have done better than me had they not had mechanicals.

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Results 


Announcing results

After that we had a brief stop at the Joint – then partied on at my house. Good times. Thanks everyone who came and everyone who helped out. AWESOME!

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Eddie and Jessie on the way to the Joint 

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